University of Northern British Columbia Wood Innovation Research Laboratory

Stantec Architecture Ltd


The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) Wood Innovation Research Laboratory (WIRL) is designed to enhance the capabilities of the students, faculty, and researchers from UNBC’s Master of Engineering in Integrated Wood Design program. The building houses a specially constructed strong wall and floor designed for state-of-the-art seismic testing of wood products. The considerable ceiling heights allow large sections of building materials to be assembled, moved by overhead crane, loaded and unloaded onto delivery vehicles, and carried to the testing area. The building served as a learning and teaching tool for UNBC during and after construction. The design is a modest building influenced by passive design principles and the innovative use of wood products. It responds to and compliments its surrounding buildings forms and orients itself in response to the urban landscape. The dark metal panel exterior wraps a warm wood interior with exposed wood structure on the interior. This is the first Passive House certified building in Canada for an education client. This presented a challenge due to the subarctic temperatures typical of Prince George, and the design of walls and roofs required careful planning. The completed construction set a new standard for airtightness, securing the best North American result of any building under Passive House standard. The testing protocol involves both pressurizing and depressurizing the building and measuring the number of air changes per hour that result. With a score of 0.07, WIRL surpassed the Passive House requirement by nearly a factor of 10.

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