UBC Aquatic Centre and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

This Aquatic Centre is targeting LEED gold certification.

LEED is an international point based rating system used to grade a building’s excellence in sustainability in seven impact categories, from water and energy efficiency, to material selection and innovative design. Four levels of certification are possible: certified, silver, gold and platinum.

The policy at UBC is that all new buildings are minimum LEED Gold certified to ensure the campus has a growing portfolio of green buildings.

Sustainable Transportation

The Aquatic Centre is located near a bus transit hub, so the decision was made to not develop any of the site for further parking. This was to encourage the use of alternate transportation modes besides driving.

Cycling, however, is encouraged through supplied bike parking and shower facilities in the building. These are increasingly common features in buildings at UBC. Students will be able to use the UBC Aquatic Centre as an “end of trip facility,” with covered bike parking and showers for cyclists to rinse off before heading to class.


Water-saving is a key initiative for the Aquatic Centre.  The project takes advantage of Southwestern British Columbia’s rainy weather. Rainwater from the roof is collected in a 900m3 cistern, from there it gets filtered and UV-treated for use in irrigation, toilet flushing and pool make-up.  This is probably the first institutional/commercial pool of this size in Canada that uses rainwater for pool make-up.

To provide better water quality for the swimmers, a leading-edge filtration technology is used at the facility which exceeds the local Health Authority’s requirement. The more material that is removed from the water, the better the pool water quality, and consequently less chemicals required for treating the water. The regenerative media filters selected use a fraction of the water volume for backwashing compared to more typical sand filters, reducing pool water consumption by 92%.

The building also uses low flow plumbing fixtures reducing the amount of water used by 47% compared to a typical building.  The landscape is drought tolerant which also reduces water used for irrigation


Energy efficiency is one of the fundamental considerations in the sustainable building design and is addressed by several design features. The Aquatic Centre is connected to UBC’s District Energy System (DES) which provides low carbon heating, pool water heating and domestic hot water heating, although the DES is not the only heating source for the building.

The building has a chiller plant that provides chilled water for dehumidification of the pool and cooling for the administration area. The hot water by-product of the chiller plant is reclaimed and helps to provide building heating, pool heating, and domestic hot water pre-heating providing over 90% of the total heating demand for the building.

Envelope design is well insulated, with overhangs to control sun exposure.


Regional materials were used throughout: approximately 30% of materials were sourced from British Columbia and Washington State.

The building was constructed with recycled steel and high flyash content concrete, as well using non-

toxic paints, adhesives, and other materials. These non-toxic materials are low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) which also improves the air quality of the building, and therefore the wellbeing of the occupants.

Construction waste was minimized and 85% was diverted from landfill.