UBC Life Sciences Centre Wins International Award for Green Features

The UBC Life Sciences Centre (LSC) has been awarded the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED ®) Gold certification by the United States Green Building Council for its innovative sustainability features.

The $125-million, 52,165-sq. metre building is the largest building at UBC. It was built to accommodate the distributed medical education program — which will nearly double the number of medical school graduates in the province to 224 by 2009 — and the Life Sciences Institute.

The Institute comprises 25,000 sq. metres of interdisciplinary research space, which enables more than 80 faculty investigators and approximately 600 trainees and research staff to conduct innovative research in many areas of the life and biomedical sciences.

The LEED certification is awarded to leading-edge buildings that incorporate environmentally sustainable design, construction, and operational features to reduce environmental impact.

Along with global citizenship and civil society, sustainability is one of the central values of Trek 2010, UBC’s vision statement. Designed with the environment in mind and loaded with “green” features, the LSC is the largest building in Canada to achieve a LEED Gold ranking and is among only a handful of buildings in the country to achieve such standards.

The LSC is the second facility that houses research laboratories in Canada to receive the environmentally-friendly LEED Gold designation as of the end of 2005. Only four other buildings in the province and seven others in Canada have reached this rating.

“The LSC exemplifies UBC’s commitment to sustainable development,” says UBC President Martha Piper. “LEED Gold certification affirms our leadership among Canadian universities in meeting the challenge set by the Kyoto Accord.”

Features that earn LSC the LEED ® Gold certification include:

  • Compared to standard buildings, the LSC emits 1,000 tonnes fewer greenhouse gases, consumes 28 per cent less energy and 50 per cent less water.
  • A dynamic monitoring system, which adjusts interior lighting and ventilation according to the external environment, contributes to an annual saving of 6.4 million kWh of electricity and nearly $200,000 in energy costs.
  • During construction, 80 per cent, or 1.3 million kilograms, of construction waste was recycled or salvaged.
  • Materials used in the construction of the building were chosen for their high recycled content, low VOC emissions and local availability.
  • Over 50 per cent of the open area has been restored with planting, of which 87.5 per cent is of native or adapted species.

LEED certification is not the only recognition that UBC has received for its sustainability efforts. In 2003, UBC became the first and only Canadian university to receive Green Campus Recognition from the U.S.-based National Wildlife Federation.

The university’s first two green buildings, the C.K. Choi building and the Liu Institute for the Study of Global Issues, have won five awards, including a listing on the American Institute of Architects’ Top Ten Earth Day 2000 Green Buildings.

The first Canadian university to adopt a sustainable development policy in 1997, UBC is one of only a handful of institutions with a student Sustainability Pledge program, which challenges graduates to improve sustainability in their communities, and remain socially and environmentally responsible in their personal and professional lives.