Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 71.58
Liaison James Gordon
Submission Date March 3, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Thompson Rivers University
IN-1: Innovation 1

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 James Gordon
Environmental Programs and Research Coordinator
TRU Office of Environment and Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Living Wall and Living Roofs, House of Learning building

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome :

In 2011 the TRU House of Learning (HOL) building was officially completed. One innovative component of the building is a living wall that is four stories tall and almost six meters wide. The wall is essentially a vertical garden which holds several hundred individual plants. Aside from the aesthetic values, the living wall ensures the highest quality of air within the building. Hidden behind the green tropical plants are a series of perforated vertical ribs which draw building air through them and into manifolds located at each floor level (they can be seen from all four floors). Also hidden from sight until the very bottom of the wall, is a constant stream of water which flows down the entire width of the wall like a hidden mini waterfall that ends in a small pool. The wall constantly 'cleans' the air through the vegetation, and air pollutants are then transferred into the water. The biological components within the wall break down the pollutants, thereby removing any impurities. Compared to a a more common system, the living-plants-and-water process of the wall uses as little as 10 percent of the energy required to bring the same amount of outside air into the building during hot summers and cold winters.
The two green roofs located on the House of Learning (one on top of the Barber Centre and another smaller roof on the south side terrace) provide habitat for wildlife, reduce the urban heat island effect in the summer (produced by concrete-rich landscapes), and assist in storm water management. Both were constructed using native and adaptive vegetation including: Feather Reed Grass, Idaho Fescue, and Blue Oat Grasses. All of these species require little irrigation--perfect for Kamloops' dry summer days. The main green roof on top of the Barber Centre was inspired by the striking features of traditional Interior Salish Pit Houses.

A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

The development of the HOL, earned TRU a LEED Gold standard because of the incorporation of various green features. Measurable outcomes associated with the living wall are numerous. The Living Wall saves energy costs through the process of evapotranspiration. Living walls also have the abiity to reduce the noise pollution within the building by blocking high frequency sounds. This ensures students and staff can have the perfect study space or quiet office. They also optimize air quality for building occupants, and are natural air-filters, creating a cleaner, more invigorating work environment that will lead to better overall employee and student health and production. Living green walls metabolize harmful toxins while releasing oxygen into the building's air, much like office plants but on a much larger scale.
The living roofs reduce heating and cooling demands by providing extra insulation for winter time, and help cool the building through evaporation of water on the roofs in summer. They are also great at reducing waste because the materials used can prolong the service life of heating, ventiliation, and HVAC systems when there is decreased usage. They also can provide wonderful aesthetic values by reducing the amount of building materials needed. It allows for users of the university to enjoy the benefits of the built environment while minimizing the urban heat island effect. Living roofs are also good for stomwater management. When it rains, the water stored by the substrate (soil) is then taken up by the native vegetation and then returned back into the atmosphere.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of 5):
Yes or No
Curriculum No
Research No
Campus Engagement No
Public Engagement No
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings Yes
Dining Services No
Energy Yes
Grounds No
Purchasing No
Transportation No
Waste No
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance No
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment No

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:

The website URL where information about the innovation is available :

Building features throughout the HOL--Living Wall and Roofs included--are studied at various times during students' schooling with the TRU Architectural & Engineering Technology program.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.