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
- 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