This article by UBC Okanagan originally appeared in The Daily Courier on 13 March 2019.

UBC Okanagan has unveiled plans to build two new student residences, which will allow 440 more students to live on campus.

The UBC board of governors recently approved spending $70 million for two new residence buildings that have already been named the Skeena and Nechako residences.

The Skeena Residence will be a six-storey facility, housing students in modified traditional bedrooms with standard amenities including lounges, informal study space, an activity room and laundry facilities.

The Nechako will also rise six storeys, with the bottom two floors offering a 500-seat dining hall, quiet study and informal gathering space, a fitness room and casual recreation space. The top four storeys will feature traditional student rooms.

UBCO currently has space for 1,680 students to live on campus, which allows it to meet its guarantee to provide student housing to every first-year student, said Rob Einarson, associate vice-president, finance and operations.

“Ultimately, we’d like to be in a position of being able to offer on-campus housing to about 25 per cent of our student population, which is a very high benchmark when compared to other Canadian universities,” said Einarson.

“With funding now in place, I expect to see shovels in the ground very shortly and the projects are targeted to be completed by fall 2021,” said Einarson.

“We’re doing our part to answer the call for additional rental accommodation in Kelowna’s challenging market and we’re doing it in a sustainable way,” said Einarson. “Skeena, in particular, is being designed to a relatively new passive house standard — or passivehaus — while Nechako will be LEED Gold certified.”

Buildings designed and constructed to the passivehaus standard use up to 90 per cent less space heating and energy consumption than conventional buildings and need little active heating or cooling to stay comfortable throughout the year.

Einarson says investments like this have allowed UBCO to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per student by 22 per cent since 2013.

“We’re truly thinking to the future with this new construction, and as our footprint grows, so too will our ability to provide reliable, comfortable, affordable and efficient student housing.”

This isn’t the first time UBC’s Okanagan campus has seen this kind of growth in its residences. When the campus opened in 2005, 340 beds were available for its 3,500 students. Six years later, it had built additional residences providing 1,440 beds.

Now that the student population has bloomed to nearly 10,000, the Nechako and Skeena residences will boost the number of available beds by 28 per cent.