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Hot Entertainment: VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Green Design

VanDusen Botanical Garden's visitor centre. Photo by KK Law

From the top of its green roof to the depths of its geothermal energy system, the new visitor centre at VanDusen Botanical Garden is blazing a path in sustainable design. The building, with its eye-catching undulating roofline that resembles an orchid, uses green strategies such as rammed-earth walls, reclaimed lumber, on-site water capture and treatment, a photovoltaic system to generate electricity, and a giant skylight/solar chimney (pictured) that functions as a natural air conditioner. Designed to exceed LEED Platinum certification, the centre is also on track to be the fourth building in the world (and first in Canada) to meet the stringent Living Building Challenge (www.ilbi.org), which analyzes seven key components: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. Even for those who don’t know anything about eco-friendly design, there’s no denying the building’s beauty. See it for yourself this month, and be sure to stop by on Plant Sale Day (Apr. 29), when admission to the garden is free. —Sheri Radford

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