Living Building Challenge TO

LBC Project Profile: VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre


Periodically on the blog, we will profile projects that are undertaking the Living Building Challenge in order to illustrate how the LBC is being met around the world. Today’s post: The VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre in Vancouver, BC.

Photo credit: Nic Lehoux

LBC Project Profile: VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre

Target: Full LBC Certification

Status: Opened and occupied, LBC certification in progress

The VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre, located in Vancouver BC, is currently pursuing full Living Building Challenge certification. Recently awarded LEED Platinum, the Visitor Centre creates a harmonious balance between architecture and landscape—from both a visual and an ecological perspective. Inspired by the organic forms and natural systems of a native orchid, the project is organized into undulating green roof ‘petals’ that float above rammed earth and concrete walls.

Photo credit: Nic Lehoux

These petals and stems are connected by a vegetated land ramp that links the roof to the ground plane, encouraging use by local fauna. The building uses on-site, renewable energy sources—geothermal boreholes, solar photovoltaics, solar hot water tubes—to achieve net-zero energy on an annual basis. Wood is the primary building material, sequestering enough carbon to achieve carbon neutrality.

Photo credit: Nic Lehoux

Rainwater is filtered and used for the building’s greywater requirements; 100% of blackwater is treated by an on-site bioreactor and released into a new feature percolation field and garden. Natural ventilation is assisted by a solar chimney, composed of an operable glazed oculus and an aluminum heatsink, which converts the sun’s rays to convection energy. Summer sun shines on darker surfaces to enhance ventilation further. Located in the centre of the atrium, and exactly at the centre of all the building’s various radiating geometry, the solar chimney highlights the role of sustainability by form and function.

Photo credit: Nic Lehoux

A quick summary of how the VanDusen Centre is targeting each LBC petal: