We recently had a behind-the-scenes tour at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus and The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence. This LEED Platinum facility, which features the largest solar panel array in B.C., is a marvel of technology and is one of the world’s most sustainable buildings.

No detail is considered to small when striving to be a leader in sustainable design and development: there is no AC, and the manually opening windows and skylights keep the air fresh and the entire building cool all summer; the building features radiant heating; computers and electronics are designed to minimize electrical usage; natural light fills the space cutting down on the lighting required; materials are all eco-friendly (even the chairs in the cafeteria are stuffed with soybean product instead of foam); grey water is used to maintain the surrounding landscaping; solar energy allows the school to be self sustaining, and it even contributes excess energy back to the grid; and there are dashboard displays all over the school that allow everyone, student’s included, to see how energy consumption and air quality fluctuates throughout the building. The vision is to have a space that students can interact with — this provides them with a stronger understanding of the sustainable vision that embodies the entire project.

The eye-catching and energy-efficient building earned the building the International Architecture Awards’ Green GOOD DESIGN Award from the prestigious European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design.

The building itself was a $28-million dollar project, which included several million dollars in donor funding, including the building’s namesake, Jim Pattison, who contributed $2.5M personally.

Programs offered at the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence include:

  • Sustainable Construction Management Technology
  • Geo-Thermal
  • Electrical
  • Carpentry
  • Green Building Design and Construction
  • Onsite Alternative Energy Sources
  • Metering and Monitoring of Green Buildings
  • Building Envelope Construction
  • Life Cycle Site Management
  • HVAC
  • Applied Ecology and Conservation
  • Human Kinetics

The Centre also incorporates innovation incubation space, in conjunction with Accelerate Okanagan (the organization is a merger between the Okanagan Science and Technology Council and the Okanagan Research Innovation Centre). The goal is to nurture a growing high-tech, green focused industry for the South Okanagan-Similkameen.

The campus serves 884 full-time equivalent students annually, and offers students a lifestyle that’s second to none. Minutes away from beaches, mountain trails, wineries, and more, Penticton is a highly desirable location to for professionals looking to upgrade their skills, or parents who want to ensure that their kids have the best educational opportunities possible.

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