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Fipke Centre Awarded Five Green Globes

Credits: ©2010 UBC Okanagan

A wind tower for air exchange, a groundwater energy system for winter heating and summer cooling, and other innovations have earned an unprecedented five Green Globes for UBC Okanagan's newest building, the Fipke Centre for Innovative Research. "The Fipke Centre is an outstanding example of the highly sustainable and innovative designs we have pursued for new buildings at UBC Okanagan," says UBC Okanagan Deputy Vice Chancellor Doug Owram. "We are becoming a model for anyone in the world looking for best practices in these types of projects. Five Green Globes is a remarkable achievement, and we're very proud of this building and the people involved in its design and construction." The 6,500 sq. m. (68,000 sq. ft.) building was designed by Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd., and was built by UBC Properties Trust on University Way at UBC Okanagan. Construction on the $30.5-million facility began in October 2006.


Fipke Centre Rendering

"One of the great innovations in this building is the geo-exchange technology," says David Roche, Development Manager for UBC Properties Trust. He credits Aidan Kiernan, UBC Okanagan's Assoc. Vice President of Operations, as instrumental in developing a campus-wide geo-exchange system which pumps groundwater from beneath the campus, uses the water to heat or cool buildings, and then returns the water to the ground.

"That system played a major role in the Green Globes designation," says Roche. UBC Okanagan will use this technology in all new buildings, and over the next few years, every existing building will also be converted to use the groundwater heating and cooling system.

"Not only is the building naturally heated and cooled, it's also a naturally ventilated building," says architect André Kroeger of Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd. "There's a wind tower on the building so people will have 100 per cent fresh air all the time, and a number of other innovations of this type."

The designation of five Green Globes is reserved for designs serving as national or world leaders in energy and environmental performance, and follows an extensive audit of the building's design. Through the Green Globes audit of the Fipke Centre project, outstanding performance was shown in the areas of project management, energy, resources, emissions and indoor environment.

Green Globes is one of two national green building rating systems used in Canada, along with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Its module for existing buildings also forms the basis of Go Green Plus, which is the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada's national environmental recognition and certification program for existing commercial buildings. Go Green Plus was recently adopted by the Canadian federal government for its entire portfolio of existing buildings.

"We feel the Green Globes system is one of the most accurate ways to assess buildings and their environmental performance," says Roche. "The five Green Globes rating that the Fipke Centre has achieved is the equivalent of LEED Platinum. As far as we know, no other lab building in Canada has achieved a rating of either LEED Platinum or five Green Globes."

The Fipke Centre accommodates classrooms and lecture theatres of varying sizes and both wet and dry labs to support the teaching and research needs of several UBC Okanagan faculties.

The building structure is cast in place concrete for the main floors and structural steel for the entrances and atrium space. Locally cast pre-cast panels, brick, and curtain wall glazing systems where implemented for the exterior skin.

Since the University is aiming for a zero-carbon footprint by 2011, innovations for natural heating, cooling and ventilation were key in achieving a high sustainability status. Take, for instance, the geo-exchange system; It pumps groundwater from beneath the campus, using the water to heat or cool buildings, and then returns the water to the ground. On the campus overall, it'll save more than $100,000 annually, and over 20 years, it'll prevent the emission of more than 38,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.


Fipke Centre Opening Video Link

Green Globes Certification Program (Canada)