Project Specs

Location: Victoria, British Columbia
Climate Zone: Cool-Temperate
Building Type: Mixed-Use
Project Phase: Under Construction
Certification Type: Passive House Classic
Year of Construction: 2022 - 2023 (completion)
Gross Floor Area (m2): 30,814 m²
Treated Floor Area (m2): Building 1: 11,473 m2 / Building 2: 10,726.5 m2

Project Description

The University of Victoria’s Student Housing and Dining Project will provide much needed housing and a new dining facility for 621 students who are currently living off campus (783 total student housing spaces). The project demonstrates UVic’s commitment to sustainability through the design and construction of the new buildings to meet Passive House standard as well as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) V4 Gold. Building 1 is scheduled for completion in 2022, and Building 2 in 2023.

The Passive House Standard was adopted to reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions, provide resilience in the face of a changing climate, and create a showcase and exemplary project for the university students and staff. Recognizing the need for future climate resilience, the project is designed to a consider thermal comfort of the student population in a 2050 climate.

The new buildings’ massing frames a new housing commons, creating a new heart for the housing precinct. A campus greenway passes through the housing precinct, creating connection to the rest of campus. Both buildings employ a concrete structure, with a two-storey mass timber podium wrapping Building 1 to connect the dining spaces to the natural components of the site. Wood finishes will also be incorporated in both buildings. The wood structure is generously glazed at the perimeter for maximum transparency, indoor-outdoor connections, and to create a welcoming front door for the student housing. This structure also contrasts with the opacity of the student housing massing above.

Public programming is located at the podium levels to activate and bring vibrancy to the building edges along the promenades. Building 1 podium houses the dining facilities, providing almost 9,000 meals a day, making it one of the largest commercial kitchens in a Passive House project globally.

Images included provided by Perkins&Will Architects.

Thermal Envelope

Exterior Wall: Steel Stud:
16mm Gypsum board
150 Steel Stud
Exterior gypsum sheathing
Air, vapour, & weather barrier
200mm Mineral Wool insulation
Rainscreen cladding with thermally broken cladding attachment
U-Value = 0.22W/(m2K)

175mm CLT Structural Panel
Air, vapour, * weather barrier
300mm Mineral Wool insulation
Rainscreen cladding with thermally broken cladding attachment
U-Value = 0.16W/(m2K)
Basement Floor/Floor Slab: Slab on Grade:
150mm Concrete on grade
Below grade vapour retarder
50mm XPS underslab
U-Value = 0.509W/(m2K)

CLT Soffit:
50mm Concrete Topping
191mm CLT Structural Panel with taped joints
300mm Mineral Wool Insulation
U-Value = 0.146W/(m2K)
Roof: Concrete Roof:
200mm Concrete slab
Air barrier/Vapour retarder
25mm Min Tapered Polyiso insulation
250mm Polyiso Insulation
65mm Mineral Wool
Roofing membrane
U-Value = 0.062W/(m2K)

175mm CLT Structural Panel
Air barrier/Vapour retarder
25mm Min Tapered Polyiso insulation
150mm Polyiso Insulation
65mm Mineral Wool
Roofing Membrane
U-Value = 0.081W/(m2K)
Window: Residential Tower Punched Window:
Cascadia (PH Certified)
Uw installed = 1.15 W/m2K (standard fixed window size)

Podium Curtain Wall:
Wicona WITEC 50HI
Uw installed = 0.77 W/m2K (standard fixed curtain wall size)

Mechanical System

Ventilation: Student Bedrooms:
A mixed mode ventilation system was chosen. All bedrooms have operable windows and exposed concrete ceilings, providing thermal mass to buffer temperature swings through the day.
Supply air is delivered directly in each student bedroom which is then transferred to the corridor through a door undercut and exhausted through the washrooms. The air is supplied through a semi-centralized HRV with one HRV serving each student residence façade/orientation. The HRV has in-line cooling and heating to temper the incoming supply air and has capacity to increase the air flow to the bedrooms to provide additional cooling when needed. If there is a severe outdoor air quality event—, such as a forest fire—and windows cannot be opened, the ASHRAE and Passive House overheating criteria will still be met in a 2050 climate.

Dining Hall:
The dining hall is spread across two floors. Both floors are heavily glazed but shaded by overhangs or fixed solar shading. The spaces have been designed to be fully mechanically ventilated with local fan coil units providing heating and cooling. They also have integrated high level operable windows, connected to the Building Automation System (BAS), to deliver cooling via natural ventilation. While the natural ventilation system alone is not fully compliant through peak summer conditions, it has been designed to deliver comfort during shoulder season and typical summer days. The windows will close and the mechanical cooling system will manage all cooling during peak summer conditions. Modelling showed that this mixed mode approach delivers annual cooling energy savings of up to 60%.
Domestic Hot Water: With 782 residents and a commercial kitchen, the project has a high demand for hot water. This could be easily met by the university’s District Energy Plant, which provides building heat and hot water to 32 buildings on campus. Although the university constructed a new centralized District Energy Plant in 2019 that results in a 10% savings in greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations, it remains a natural gas-based system.

It became evident that the PER pathway would be best to achieve compliance with the Passive House standards. However, this would require a change in the design of the domestic hot water system from district energy to a high temperature air source heat pump. The heat pump solution would reduce GHGs from operations by almost 90% but would add capital cost and operating costs to the project. Ultimately, the university chose to proceed via the PER method. While acknowledging that this would result in increased capital and operating costs it is an opportunity to show leadership in addressing climate change in the here and now.