Thompson Rivers University

Viewing sustainability from all angles

May 31, 2019

Rendering of Nursing and Population Health Building

This story first appeared in the spring 2019 edition of Bridges Magazine: The Sustainability Issue. Bridges is the official publication of TRU alumni and friends, and can be read online in its entirety at

As TRU moves further into the 21st century, so too does our need for buildings that spur innovative thinking, are energy efficient and have an eye on future needs. The Industrial Training and Technology Centre (ITTC) opened in the fall of 2018 and addressed those concerns with 550 more classroom seats within 5,344 square metres at a cost of $30 million.

The under construction Nursing and Population Health Building (NPH) is slated to open in September 2020 and will be 4,550 square metres. Costing $37.2 million, the building will have space for classrooms, labs, interdisciplinary health clinics, home-care space and breakout rooms, affording the opportunity for collaborative learning. It will allow additional student seats in the future.

Here are some sustainability features of both buildings.

Industrial Training and Technology Centre

Electrically-generated heat

TRU’s first electric boiler brings us closer to being fossil-fuel free and lowers our greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The boiler can tie into the Trades and Technology Centre’s heating system to offset natural gas consumption, provide a two-direction heating system and give both buildings a reliable back up.

“As a leader in sustainability—and we want to keep that position—we’re trying to reduce our GHG emissions,” says TRU’s Director of Capital Projects, Les Tabata. “An electric boiler isn’t revolutionary, but it is revolutionary for us to think outside the box by going with an electrical source rather than a gas-fired heat source.”

Solar ready

Electrical conduit and inverters are installed and panels and materials will be purchased through anticipated grants and TRU’s revolving sustainability fund.

Smart lighting, heating and cooling

The network-based Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) system operates and regulates lights for maximum savings. Active chilled beam systems do the same for cooling, and the ITTC is TRU’s first building to have it. Other features: A low exergy cooling design, demand control ventilation and dual-core heat recovery.

Forethought before hindsight

Building mezzanines in shops eliminated costly retrofits, while creating more learning and storage space. Acoustic cellulose insulation was applied to the underside of shop concrete flooring to dampen noise.

Nursing and Population Health Building

Heat-recovery chiller, electric boiler, DALI, recycled materials

The building will have an electric boiler, demand control ventilation, DALI, LED lighting and LEED documentation. The acoustic tiles, gypsum wall board and insulation will contain recycled materials. Fly ash in the cement will strengthen concrete. A low-carbon heating system will move heat through the building from the simulation and IT rooms, providing up to 700 percent efficiency.

LEED 4.0

The LEED rating system has been upgraded to version 4, meaning it will take more for NPH to reach a gold rating achieved by ITTC and House of Learning. “We’re conscious of how we build the building, what we build it from and the packaging of materials,” says Tabata. “All that is measured and counted. Even during construction—where things come from, where they were made, the packaging—everything will be counted because it is part of the LEED process and standard set by (BC) government policy.”

Sims like the real thing

High-tech electronic security to protect the mannequin simulation labs and observation areas is being installed during construction, avoiding costly retrofits and waste material later on.

Hands-on learning

Similar to the Sleep Centre Clinic created and operated by Respiratory Therapy, NPH will feature hands-on opportunities for students to apply their learning by interacting with, and learning from, the community.

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