UniverCity Childcare Centre
Nestled in the dense heart of Simon Fraser’s sustainable campus community, UniverCity Childcare Centre provides early childhood education for 50 curious preschoolers.
The centre also acts as a ‘living lab’ for university researchers, and is a model for sustainable practices as only the seventh building worldwide to register for the Living Building Challenge, the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard.
"It was our intent to try to deliver the most sustainable building in Canada on a fixed budget and allow the youngest segment of our population to enjoy that building and come to expect that out of any building they occupy in the future.
We thought if we are going to put anybody in the greenest building in Canada we should start with the kids. That way what is weird to us just becomes normal to them. They will move on and wonder why they aren’t flushing the toilet with rainwater."
Dale Mikkelsen, Director of Development, SFU Community Trust
The SFU Community Trust sought to create an innovative childcare facility for UniverCity – a livable, inclusive and forward-thinking urban community. The Childcare Centre needed to exemplify the goals of this developing community and demonstrate their commitment to the four cornerstones of sustainability – equity, environment, economy, and education.
In addition to meeting the ambitious goals of the Living Building Challenge, the Trust asked us to create a space that would support Reggio Emilia’s unique education programming model, with its emphasis on self-directed learning.
On opening in 2012, the UniverCity Childcare Centre was the first childcare centre in the world to integrate Living Building Challenge (LBC). Its influence was significant, and led to sustainable design strategies that resulted in exemplary healthy indoor air quality, locally and responsibly sourced materials, and a net-zero energy, net-zero water building. Despite this, the facility cost 18 percent less to build than other, conventional childcare centres being built elsewhere in the region.
Today, the centre remains a laboratory for self-directed learning within a space flexible enough to respond to the changing nature of education.
"Simple, beautiful, elegant. The UniverCity Childcare Centre is a remarkable example of intelligent, deeply integrated design and high performance – showing the world that our most precious citizens (our children) deserve an environment that is healthy, beautiful and supportive of their needs.
This is a project to learn from – great design and true leadership from the developer to every consultant. The UniverCity Childcare Centre Living Building is a story of leadership in design and education!"
Jason F. McLennan, CEO, International Living Future Institute
CaGBC National Leadership Awards - Green Building Champion Award 2013
SAB Canadian Green Building Award 2012
Urban Development Institute Award - Best Sustainable 2012
Petal Certified, targetting Living Building Challenge certification