Creating a better community

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BC Cancer Research Centre (BCCRC) represents one of Canada’s largest integrated cancer research centres and includes the unique Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre. Located in the heart of Vancouver, BCCRC is the largest freestanding facility of its kind. Spanning over 231,000 ft, the facility contains eight specialized departments that conduct research into all of the 200 known types of cancer.

The expansion of the BCCRC will expand the province’s capacity to instigate leading edge research findings. With the capacity to unite over 600 leading researchers under one roof, its strategic location across from BC Cancer Agency’s Vancouver Centre will enable information sharing and collaboration between scientists and clinicians.

Logically, caring for the planet and the human race are a natural pair and also the driving force behind the hospital’s strong green mandate. From the initial stages, project goals required the design of an incredibly sustainable facility that incorporated ample flexibility to accommodate future needs, while creating a landmark facility that appeals to both researchers and the community.

The case for building greenSpecific sustainable objectives included minimizing operational costs, lowering CO2 production, and reducing energy consumption. More explicitly, green design targets were set on achieving LEED¨ Silver Certification. IBI Group/Henriquez Partners Architects worked closely with Stantec Consulting to provide sound project management services and mechanical design.

The business case for greening healthcare facilities is clear. In an industry burdened with tight budgets and high energy usage, reducing resource consumption can result in much needed cost savings. As one of the leading industry consumers of energy and water, even a small reduction in energy usage can translate into substantial operational savings.

Sustainable solutionsA variety of green strategies were applied to reduce energy consumption and promote water conservation, without compromising indoor environmental quality. Key measures include the use of a heat recovery chiller and using chilled/heating floor slabs to reduce the heating and cooling loads. Variable-volume fume hoods and reduced air volume and shaft space worked together to decrease ventilation loads. Natural ventilation was incorporated in the office areas, which further contributes to reduce mechanical system usage and improve interior working spaces.

Keeping flexibility in mind, interstitial spaces that store the corresponding mechanical and electrical systems were incorporated between each laboratory floor. They offer tremendous ease for system repairs, renovations or reconfiguration with minimal or no disruption to adjacent labs. As research needs continue to expand and evolve, resulting modifications will be made simple since the necessary future flexibility is already incorporated.

Reducing water consumption was another key objective. Low flow plumbing fixtures were installed throughout the entire facility. Dual flush toilets, waterless urinals and low flow showerheads were incorporated into the overall building design. Overall, the design team achieved a 42 per cent reduction in energy usage and a 43 per cent reduction in potable water consumption when compared to a standard facility as outlined by the Model National Energy Code for Buildings.

A landmark facilityBCCRC reached new heights for beauty in design while serving as a focal point for advanced cancer research. Architects and engineers worked in close collaboration to synergize the striking exterior façade with the high-calibre technology systems available inside. Distinctive architecture was fused with sustainable design to create an aesthetically pleasing facility that demonstrates its commitment to the environment while attracting top researchers from all over the world.

Innovative design features include large circular windows representing petri dishes that flood the laboratory interiors with natural light. The twelve floors of office space offer spectacular mountain views through coloured window treatments representing an abstract of chromosome eight. A spiral DNA helix staircase links the office spaces encouraging communication and reduced elevator usage. To create especially desirable workspaces, special care was exercised to select interior materials and finishes with low-emitting Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) to complement operable windows.

The cost of building greenExtensive planning and shared design vision contributed to successfully surpassing the minimum requirements for LEED Silver Certification. The entire design team including architects, engineers and key stakeholders, followed an integrated design approach to realize the sustainable objectives within a fixed budget and standard schedule. Despite the project’s heavy green commitments, it was completed $7M under budget and one day ahead of schedule, proving that green design doesn’t have to cost more.

Recognized for outstanding design, BCCRC is the first health-care and/or research facility to achieve a LEED Gold Certification under the LEED NC 2.0 Canada program. BCCRC is an inspiring example of the possibilities that can be achieved when architects partner with engineers to turn green health-care visions into a sustainable reality.