>> The C. K. Choi Building


The C. K. Choi Building, housing the Institute for Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, has been widely recognized as a hallmark of sustainable building design. The three-storey, 3,000 square metre building was designed by Matsuzaki Wright Architects and has received numerous awards since its completion in 1996, ranging from the BC Building Owners and Managers’ Earth Award for Environmental Friendliness in Commercial Buildings, to the Earth Day Top Ten Award from the American Institute of Architecture Committee on the Environment.

The building’s design reflects a collaborative effort to address four key aspects of sustainbility:

  • Reducing Environmental Impact and Consumption of Water
    The building incorporates composting toilets and urinals which reduce water consumption by up to 1000 liters per day. It also contains a gray water management system which treats waste water on site through a bio-filtration network of soils and plants. In addition, rain water is captured and stored for irrigation of site landscaping. As a result of these features, the building is independent of the campus sanitary sewer system.

  • Reducing Embodied Energy from Construction
    The building makes extensive use of heavy timbers salvaged from a neighboring building, brick recovered from Vancouver roads, and numerous other recycled building materials.

  • Improving Operating Energy Efficiency
    The building makes extensive use of natural lighting, and employs occupancy and ambient light sensors to manage lighting levels. The three story atria are used to ventilate the building through simple convection. Retention of existing forest cover helps to shade and cool the building in summer, and heating is provided by the campus central heating facility. These features, along with high thermal efficiency in walls and windows, result in a 40 percent reduction in energy use compared to similar buildings built with conventional methods.

  • Creating a Livable Working Space
    Natural lighting, circulation of fresh air, extensive use of low emission building materials and attention to details, such as the direct venting of photocopier rooms, all contribute to a highly livable and comfortable working space.


For more detailed information on the building’s energy, materials and water conservation features, see the Institute for Asian Studies web site: http://www.iar.ubc.ca/choibuilding/Index.htm, and the Green Buildings BC profile:

For more information on the composting toilets see the manufacturer’s web site:

Category: Green Buildings
Organization: Institute for Asian Studies
Address: 251-1855 West Mall
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2
Phone: (604) 822 4688
Fax: (604) 822 5207
E mail: iar@interchange.ubc.ca