Sustainable student housing takes shape

- University of Victoria

The new student housing and dining building features mass timber and concrete.

In September 2022, 398 UVic students will be living in the largest passive house building in Victoria. The sustainable student housing and dining construction project is taking shape on the outside of Ring Road, just south of the Student Union Building where Cadboro Commons used to stand. Featuring concrete and mass timber and, designed with the industry’s most rigorous sustainability and energy efficiency requirements, students will be able to enjoy all the best on-campus living can offer while also knowing they are in a state-of-the-art green building. In the fall of 2023, the second building will be ready to welcome 385 more students into the dorms. 

The past few months have seen the buildings rise in stature with current site activity focusing on the concrete structure, interior framing and exterior stud framing. The recent arrival of mass timber from a new state-of-the-art facility in the Kootenays allows for the installation of mass timber columns and slabs, including work on the mass timber podium—a feature that wraps around the exterior of the south wing of Building One.

Mass timber is made by adhering smaller pieces of wood together to form pre-fabricated larger building components such as beams. By using BC-sourced wood for the mass timber features, the university is using sustainable construction options and lowering the carbon footprint for the entire build. This is due to two factors: the timber has been grown, harvested and processed all within the province, lowering the carbon footprint incurred for shipping, and the production of mass timber is not as carbon intensive as the manufacture of other construction materials such as steel and concrete.

“When complete, these buildings will be gathering places on campus for students to live, learn, share meals and connections,” says Joel Lynn, executive director, UVic Student Services. “The facilities will enrich the student experience by creating a community gathering space on campus, and we’re very excited for our students to have access to this kind of facility during their studies at UVic.”

building site in construction
The new student housing and dining building site is taking shape.

While construction is progressing on schedule, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the project. Work safe plans and procedures are in place and strictly followed to keep personnel healthy, and they are routinely kept up to date as provincial health orders change. Because campus is quieter than usual, with student, faculty and staff learning and working remotely, construction has progressed efficiently with fewer constraints as vehicle and foot traffic on campus is currently very low.

A video tour of the site hosted by Sidney Reist, UVic engineering alumna and project coordinator with the EllisDon Kinetic joint venture, highlights the recent work including the mass timber features.

When complete, Building One will have six storeys on its south wing and eight storeys on its north wing. It will house the dining facility and student residences. Building Two is 11 storeys and will be home to student residences on its upper floors and classroom space, study and meeting space, conference facilities and an Indigenous student lounge on the lower two levels.

By expanding on-campus housing, UVic is striving to meet student demand and provide as many opportunities as possible that foster a socially and intellectually engaged and connected campus. Living on campus is an incredibly important part of the university experience as it helps students transition to post-secondary studies, provides academic and social programming, and supports and nurtures a strong sense of belonging in the UVic community.

As the project takes shape along Ring Road, the promise of a vibrant student community space is rising right along with it.

Read the Backgrounder.

For more project details, visit the project webpage.


In this story

Keywords: student life, administrative, sustainability

People: Joel Lynn

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