2009 SAB Awards Winner - Crawford Bay

Jury comments - The school is an exemplary example of modest sustainable design that any small community can achieve. The interior is beautiful. Natural light enters through single-loaded corridors, clerestory windows at interior classrooms, and a narrow floor plate that strikes a good balance between active and passive solar.

Located in the village of Crawford Bay on the shores of Kootenay Lake in southeastern BC, this new K-12 school serves the East Shore communities, a population of approximately 1,500.
In a small community the school is the heart of social and recreational activity, and the construction of a new school is an event of great significance. This is underscored by the fact that the local residents raised an astounding $850,000 to add a pre-school, fitness centre and other community facilities to the program.
The basic plan organization is straightforward: two single-loaded parallel corridors that serve the educational and communal spaces of the school. In recognition of the historic importance of forestry to the local community, the building is designed as an all-wood structure, using native local species as much as possible. The geometry is simple and repetitive, a deliberate strategy to ensure construction could be accomplished using local labour and expertise.
To ensure a healthy and stimulating environment, the building features large expanses of glass to bring natural light and views to all occupied spaces including the gymnasium. The glazing is oriented for optimal solar exposure, protected by overhangs to reduce glare, and prevent overheating in summer, and shaded by deciduous trees that filter sunlight in summer and allow full solar penetration in winter. Operable windows at low level around the perimeter of the building work in combination with operable clerestories to create a chimney effect that facilitates natural ventilation.
Crawford Bay is sufficiently remote that it has no service infrastructure other than electricity. Thus the school has no main water supply, and no piped connection for the disposal and treatment of waste water. All water used by the school comes from wells drilled to subterranean aquifers. In addition to supplying daily needs, this water also feeds a separate reservoir used for fire fighting and the building’s sprinkler system.
Sewage effluent from the school is treated to tertiary standards.  This process culminates in six constructed wetland zones where natural vegetation and wood cellular fibre remove any remaining nutrients from the liquid, which then percolates back into the ground. The school uses site ecology as a teaching tool, including sustainable silviculture, a composting program and an organic worm farm.
Rain water is collected through rain water troughs and scuppers at roof eaves; directed into gravel and garden catchment zones and is used to irrigate landscaping. Excess water is collected by a sub-surface collection system and stored in a cistern for irrigation of playfields. The water system, which includes water-efficient low-flush toilets and urinals and infra-red water taps, is designed to achieve a reduction of at least 20% over baseline calculation.
The main energy source for the heating system is a closed loop geo-exchange system that includes 9,000 m of horizontal piping laid beneath the playfields, and a series of heat pumps placed along a “Utilidor” beneath the floor slab of the school. A propane fired back up system is only used for peak loads during the coldest times in the winter.
In its blending of environmental, economic and social aspects, Crawford Bay School can be seen as the quintessential community project.


  • Client School District #8 Kootenay Lake
  • Architect KMBR Architects Planners Inc
  • Structural engineer Fast + Epp Structural Engineers
  • Mechanical Engineer Poole & Associates Mechanical Engineering Ltd
  • Electrical engineer Falcon Engineering Ltd
  • Landscape Architects Maruyama & Associates
  • Construction manager School District #8
  • Commissioning Agent R.A. Bruce & Associates
  • Photography Brandi Abele, Witmar Abele


  • Exterior Aluminum window and door system by Kawneer, Structurlam glulam, high flyash content, blown-in recycled cellulose insulation by GreenFiber, western larch siding, two-ply mechanically-fastened Soprema Soprafix System to entire roof area, Plastispan Type 2 tapered [1% slope] roof insulation by Plastifab
  • Interior Forbo linoleum, InterfaceFLOR carpet tile, Johnsonite rubber flooring; CGC gypsum wall board and acoustic ceiling tile, Tectum acoustic board; American Standard urinals and sinks, Toto toilets, Delta faucets; Douglas Lighting Controls, Luminore fixtures by Lux Lighting Solutions Inc.
  • HVAC Trane ground-source heat pumps [30 used], back-up electric boiler by Lochinvar, air handlers for the gym and make-up air units for the kitchen and work shops by Engineered Air

Project Performance

  • Energy Intensity 368MJ/m2/year
    Including both base building and process energy
  • Water Consumption from municipal sources 0 l/m2/year
    Including both base building and process consumption
  • Local materials [800 km radius] by value 60%
    Recycled material content 10%
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