Liu Centre built to be model of sustainability

by Don Wells
Staff writer

While the C.K. Choi Building may represent a magnum opus for UBC as a model for sustainable design and construction, the university's newest project promises to be a suitable encore.

The work in progress is the proposed Liu Building, which will house the new Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues. It is an architectural symphony in two movements -- the first, the systematic deconstruction of Pan-Hellenic House, and the second, the construction of the new building using the the former building's beams and other major components.

"The building is going to be as sustainable as we can make it," says Freda Pagani, director, Sustainability for Land and Building Services.

Pagani's ultimate objective is to see UBC emerge as a leader in sustainable development with the extensive participation of the campus community.

"We have extremely talented academics and researchers on this campus, and that positions the university to make great strides with respect to sustainability. The confluence of events and individuals has been extremely encouraging."

Pagani credits Joanne Perdue, development manager of the Liu Centre, with the idea of deconstructing Pan-Hellenic House.

Practically everything that isn't used in the Liu Building will be sold to other builders and contractors or recycled.

In total, almost 90 per cent of the beams, two-by-fours, flooring, roofing, electrical outlets, glass, insulation, plywood, fixtures, concrete, plaster and scrap metal will be reused or recycled -- the reverse of a typical demolition where 90 per cent would go to landfill.

And if this salvaging job sounds painstaking, it is. But expensive it isn't, according to second-year Landscape Architecture student Derek Masselink.

Masselink, who has documented the demolition along with Architecture student Lisa Kwan, will prepare a comparative financial analysis. The theory is savings on landfill fees outweigh the cost of salvaging and recycling.

The Liu Centre will also use 50 per cent less energy for heat and light than a modern structure of similar size, largely through the utilization of natural light.

Of the electricity used, Pagani hopes that about half will be generated by photovoltaic panels for which funding is currently being sought.

The Liu Centre is scheduled to open in September 2000.

See also: Global leaders counsel Liu Centre on key issues