Vancouver’s green gardens seek Platinum

Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre treats its own sewage, uses onsite renewable sources for energy, and is net-carbon-neutral. Image courtesy Perkins+Will Canada Architects Co.

Pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum, Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre opened its doors last month.

Designed by Perkins+Will, the 1765-m2 (19,000-sf) facility was inspired by the form of a native orchid. The building is organized in undulating green roof ‘petals’ along ‘stems’ of rammed earth and concrete walls. The surrounding native plant landscape, including the green roof, features a landscape adapted to the local climate.

“This building opens the garden to the public,” said Peter Busby, Perkins+Will Canada’s managing director. “It’s a beautiful and innovative form that seeks to join nature, architecture, and people. Throughout the building we harmonized the presence of humans on this site with the nature around it, resulting in a form reminiscent of natural vegetation while infused with sustainable strategies. The building lives on the rainwater that falls on it, treats its own sewage, is net-carbon-neutral on an annual basis, and is made of wood—sequestering carbon throughout construction.”

The building is also pursuing the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge, which tackles sustainability problems in the built environment. To achieve this, the facility uses:
• onsite renewable sources for energy;
• solar-evacuated tubes to heat hot water;
• a solar ‘heat sink’ integrated with an operable glazed oculus in the centre of the facility;
• low-emitting materials; and
• captured precipitation for building-related water use.

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