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UBC Evolve

The UBC Evolve in Vancouver, BC is a 110-unit wood-frame building designed and built to the Passive House standard. Completed in 2022, the 6-storey building offers student and staff energy-efficient and comfortable rental housing on the UBC Campus.

Designed by ZGF Architecture and built by Peak Construction Group for UBC Properties Trust, the UBC Evolve is part of UBC’s Living Laboratory as a research opportunity to help inform UBC’s long-term goals to reduce energy requirements for buildings. Design strategies to significantly reduce the 103, 072 sq. ft. building’s energy consumption include a central HRV system with a VRF coil at the system level providing tempered heating and cooling, an exceptional thermal envelope with R40 walls and Passive House Institute certified windows and doors, a combination of natural and active shading strategies, and rooftop photovoltaic panels.

One of the important components of the building’s thermal envelope is the fenestration. We manufactured and supplied our Defender 88PH+ Pro windows and doors with an anthracite grey exterior and white interior finish for the project. The Defender 88PH+ Pro windows and doors are Passive House International (PHI) certified components for climate zone 3 (cool temperate climate). The high-performance fenestration complement the highly insulated and airtight building envelope.

The design team carefully considered the windows to ensure optimal comfort throughout the year. Using a combination of passive and active shading strategies, the windows are protected during the summer months. Passive shading is provided by the many mature trees and aluminum shrouds on the south and west sides of the building. Active shading is provided by moveable shades on the exterior of the building as well as blinds on the interior of the apartments. A variety of Low-E coatings were used throughout the project depending on window orientation to further optimize solar heat gain.

Close-up view of the aluminum shrouds that protect the windows from excessive heat gain during warmer temperatures.


The metal exterior shades can be manually moved to reduce heat gain during warmer temperatures.

UBC Evolve also features mixed-mode ventilation. The tilt and turn windows provide effective natural ventilation when the outdoor temperatures are below the indoor temperatures. The windows and terrace doors are also equipped with sensors that ensure maximum cool air is only supplied via an energy-efficient heat pump when the windows and doors are closed. When the windows and doors are opened, the ventilation is reduced to the minimum setting.

While the UBC Evolve provides healthy housing for its growing community, it also offers an important learning opportunity that supports the university’s Climate Action Plan goal to reach net zero emissions at their campus operations by 2035. The opportunity to evaluate the life cycle of the building, including initial building costs, ongoing operational costs, indoor air quality, noise, extreme heat tolerance, carbon emissions and overall tenant experience, in comparison to similar code-built buildings on campus, will have long-lasting impacts for the sustainable design and build industry.

Media Coverage

Construct Connect: Evolve: UBC building on the front lines of Passive House construction

UBC News: Faculty and staff housing targeting Passive House certification opens at UBC


Architectural renderings courtesy of ZGF Architects. Photography by 360 Home Tours.