Celebrating one year of energy-efficient student housing at UBC Okanagan

June 24, 2022 at 2:04 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Students at UBC Okanagan are marking one year of living in new, first-of-its-kind energy efficient housing.

The housing is Canada’s first student residence with Passive House certification for energy-efficient buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling.

“This building allows hundreds of new students to experience living on-campus in a sustainable way,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “Two hundred and twenty students now have a place to call home, and the building they live in requires only one-third of the energy required by a typical student residence.”

Passive House certification is an internationally recognized high-performance building standard developed in Germany that focuses on the design, construction and operation of energy-efficient buildings.

The six-storey building features thick insulation, an airtight and high-efficiency building envelope and a heat recovery ventilation system.

“UBC Okanagan is showing leadership and a path forward to address climate change and create a better future for young people with affordable housing that’s built to the highest standard — the first Passive House-certified student residence in Canada,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “Through our CleanBC plan, we’re helping B.C. universities accelerate their actions on climate change with significant investments to make sure we have buildings that are energy-efficient, comfortable and ready for future weather events.”

Skeena Residence is one of two new student housing projects at UBC Okanagan. Funded by the university, Nechako Residence was completed in 2021. It adds an additional 220 beds to on-campus housing, as well as a 450-seat resident dining room that Skeena residents can access. Together, the buildings will boost the number of available beds on campus by 28%.


Lesley Cormack, principal and deputy vice-chancellor, UBC Okanagan –

“As Canada’s first Passive House-certified student residence, Skeena is an extraordinary achievement for UBC Okanagan and the teams that worked on it. As our campus community grows and develops, we are committed to taking bold action on climate, learning from this project and continuing to employ the most innovative and efficient design and building practices.”

Shannon Dunn, director of business operations, UBC Okanagan –

“The thermal stability of the building means students hardly ever need to touch the thermostat.  With heat and air conditioning needed only sparingly, the power usage is kept to an absolute minimum without compromising liveability. It’s an incredible feat, considering the strain the heatwave put on infrastructure throughout B.C. With extreme weather events expected more frequently in the future, this kind of innovation and technology will become ever more important.”

Quick Facts:

  • The $24.98-million new Skeena student housing facility received a $18.74 million loan from the Province.
  • The university’s internal financing provided a further $6.24 million.
  • Buildings designed and built to Passive House standards use up to 90% less heat and energy than conventional buildings.

Learn More:

For more about UBC Okanagan, visit: https://ok.ubc.ca/

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