The 55-acre Van Dusen Botanic Garden was a golf course before becoming a botanic garden with 11,500 plant accessions and 1600 volunteers. Most exciting for the Green Cities Tour is their visitor’s center.
Van Dusen Botanic Garden’s award-winning LEED Platinum, Living Building Visitor Centre is shaped like an orchid when viewed from above. Designed by Busby Perkins + Will and landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, the structure has been created to meet the Living Building Standard, a rigorous standard to create buildings that enhance the environment, not take away from it.
Energy is supplied onsite by renewable sources. The building is as passive as possible with no air conditioning. The ventilation system and heat recovery units pump back into the ground in a closed loop system using more than 50 pipes that go down into the ground. Hot water is supplied by a solar hot water system on the roof.
Living Buildings are water independent, with all of the building’s water coming from harvested rainwater. Van Dusen’s Visitor Center uses energy efficient systems such as a rainwater cistern for toilet flushing and onsite sewage disposal. A green roof covering more than 2/3 of the roof is one way rainwater is harvested to use on the property. One non-vegetated section of the roof captures rainwater to use in the facility’s toilets. The Botanic Garden processes their own sewage waste, which can be a challenge on high visitation days.
NewTerrain April 5, 2016.