Langara college

A Sustainable Campus

The north elevation. By using passive solar design, indigenous materials, geothermal energy, enhanced air quality, energy and water efficiency, and sustainable landscape design, the project stands for the idea that resources are finite and that building design should respond to this fact. The College conducts tours for students, professionals, and the community to explain the sustainable features of the building

Library/classroom building combines sustainable architectural and landscape practices

The goal of Langara College is to create a sustainable campus that demonstrates environmental responsibility and stewardship for the student body and the community.
Containing a library, classrooms, computational labs, study lounges and faculty offices, the building marks the first step towards the new sustainable master plan that Teeple Architects Inc. also prepared. The building and master plan are based on sustainable architectural and landscape practices that create a green campus community. The master plan transforms the campus from a mega structure placed in a sea of parking, to a sequence of interdependent outdoor and indoor learning spaces.
The form of the building is generated from the environmental forces acting on it:

  • the warped roof channels wind towards the wind towers and gathers grey water for landscape irrigation,
  • air is tempered by geothermal heating and cooling, in combination with the building’s inherent thermal mass, and
  • gardens and courtyards push into the building, bringing greenery and daylight into the depths of the building and contributing strongly to its overall character.

The interior spaces also respond to the environmental forces acting on and within the building. The main vertical circulation spine surrounds the wind tower voids, and in turn, forms the principle public spaces of the building [photo right]. Stairs flow via the wind towers to large study spaces on the second floor, and beyond to quieter places of contemplation on the uppermost level.
The building is carefully placed to define three new courtyards which are focal points for campus life, and itself becomes a figural focus and gateway into this sustainable campus.
The elimination of traditional HVAC systems, and their replacement with geothermal heating and cooling in combination with natural displacement ventilation, results in a highly energy-efficient building.
A weather station on the roof senses wind direction, speed and humidity, and through a computerized control system, activates vent windows in the wind towers, which allow the wind to drive air through the building.
Fresh air is brought into the building through a wind-scoop that becomes an iconic element in the new student quad. The air, contained in a duct ring, is tempered by passing through the underground parking, prior to entering the building. Interior climate control is further achieved through ground source heating and cooling, which adjusts the temperature of the building’s concrete thermal mass. Indoor air quality sensors monitor and adjust the air temperature, humidity, CO2 content and movement, ensuring its quality.
Storm water is processed through a sequence of bio swales along the west elevation. The swales are planted with vegetation and compost designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff. Inside the building, low flush toilets and waterless urinals reduce the water use by 30%.
Since the building is naturally heated and cooled, there is no need to rely on external energy sources to assure a high quality of air and light within the spaces. The building responds to these changes technically - making the most of renewable resources [wind, rain and geothermal temperatures], as well as poetically - transforming these resources into uniquely satisfying spaces.

jury comments

Fluid and dynamic, the architecture is expressed as an aggressive application of natural systems - wind towers for natural displacement ventilation, interior courtyards to bring in daylighting, geothermal heating and cooling to temper air, and the use of thermal mass - that seems to want to push the boundaries of sustainable design. Registered as a LEED Gold building, its energy use data, not clearly reported as yet in the sustainable campus’s short service life, will give a better view of performance. The pond, with the centre island, has a pure, calming effect that is emblematic of the relative stillness exhibited by all of the winning projects.

Watch a video of the jury commenting on the project on youtube:


  • Architect: Teeple Architects Inc., Toronto
  • Associate Architect: IBI/HB Architects, Vancouver
  • General Contractor: Bird Construction, Richmond, BC
  • Landscape Architect: PFS, Vancouver
  • Civil Engineer: Cobalt Engineering with Bunt Associates, Vancouver
  • Electrical Engineer: Stantec, Vancouver
  • Mechanical Engineer: Cobalt Engineering, Vancouver
  • Structural Engineer: Glotman, Simpson, Vancouver
  • Commissioning Agent: KD Engineering, Vancouver
  • Photographer: Shai Gil, Toronto


  • Structure: Cast-in-place exposed concrete containing 50% flyash
  • Exterior: TPO self-adhering roofing, high performance, argon-filled double glazing, metal cladding 24 ga., outsulation dual barrier system by Dryvit
  • HVAC: Rooftop heat recovery ventilator [air to water] at windtowers, radiant heating, geothermal heating and gas-fired condensing boiler; dual flush toilets, waterless urinals by Sloan, cisterns
  • Interior: Drywall finished with low VOC paint, recycled carpet tile by Interface, rubber flooring, epoxy resin flooring, recycled walnut faced doors, low VOC composite millwork; lighting controls by Wattstopper
  • Building gross floor area: 22,517 sq.m

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