Recognition keeps coming for one of world’s most sustainable buildings

Add another chapter to the sustainability story of Okanagan College’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation.

Okanagan College
© Okanagan College

Add another chapter to the sustainability story of Okanagan College’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation.

The College received LEED Platinum certification recently for the Penticton building from the Canada Green Building Council. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is globally recognized as a means of assessing green building practices and outcomes. Platinum is the highest LEED certification that can be achieved.)

The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence was opened in 2011, and was jointly funded by the federal and provincial governments along with more than $9 million in community contributions—donations that also helped develop programs, scholarships, bursaries and student support associated with the building.

  • The building has been recognized for its sustainable features with several prestigious awards, including:
  • International Architecture Awards’ Green GOOD DESIGN Award from the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies 
  • Two awards from the Illuminating Engineering Society 
  • A Canadian Green Building Award from SAB (Sustainable Architecture Building) Magazine.

The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence has attracted international attention from architects and sustainability experts, drawing them to Penticton to tour the facility and learn from the College, architects, engineers and builders who made the Centre a reality.

“LEED Platinum certification is a testament to the level of sustainability we have achieved with the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “What’s as important, though, is the benchmark we have set for ourselves, our students and others in the public sector. We are leading by example.”


The College’s goal is to have the Centre of Excellence achieve the Living Building Challenge standard, which is based both on construction and continuing performance. It is a higher standard than LEED Platinum and requires the building be carbon neutral, among other things.

The 7,000-square-metre Centre of Excellence was designed by CEI Architecture. It was built by PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. The building provides space for trades and technology training, includes a community gym, as well as classrooms for a whole host of academic and vocational programs. It is also home to the B.C. Wine Information Society Sensory Centre.

“What was inspiring was the way that architects, engineers, builders, the community and the College coalesced around the idea of building something better, something that would stand as a beacon for sustainability,” says Hamilton.

It was one of three buildings in North America featured by the New York Times as examples of carbon-neutral campus architecture.

“The Centre of Excellence is truly an innovative facility, providing leading edge training in sustainable practices for Okanagan College,” said Bill Locking, senior partner with CEI Architecture. “The integrated nature of the design and construction team enabled the Centre of Excellence to achieve ambitious targets for sustainable design. We couldn’t be more proud to have been part of the project.”

“Working on this project was an education for our company and tradespeople about how vision and dedication can turn a commitment to sustainability into a beautiful, leading-edge building,” says Gary McEwan, special projects manager for PCL Westcoast Constructors. “We are all very proud of the outcome and the recognition that the building has received. I can tell you that it has impacted our work on a whole host of other projects since.”

While LEED Platinum certification is a remarkable achievement, Donna Lomas, the Regional Dean for the South Okanagan-Similkameen, says there are much more impressive credentials that speak to the building’s attributes.

“This is a building that students love to learn in, that staff enjoy working in, that the community loves to use, and that continues to impress visitors. And it’s doing all that with a tiny footprint on our environment.”

To find out more about the Centre and its sustainability features, you can visit