Whistler Public Library


4329 Main Street

Whistler, British Columbia

Content Type
  • Building
Completion Date
January 2008
Site/ Building area
Building: 1475 m2
Certifications & Awards
  • LEED Canada for New Construction and Major Renovations 1 Gold
  • Targeting CaGBC LEED Gold certification
  • 2008 Wood Design Real Cedar Award
  • 2009 British Columbia Lieutenant Governor Award in Architecture
Project Team
  • Client: Resort Municipality of Whistler
  • Architect: Hughes Condon Marler Architects
  • Structural Engineers: Fast + Epp Structural Engineers
  • Mechanical Engineers: Stantec Engineering; Acumen Engineering
  • Landscape Architects: Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg
  • General Contractor: Whistler Construction Company
  • Funders: Resort Municipality of Whistler; FCM Green Municipal Fund; Coast Forest Products Association; BC Hydro; Community Foundation of Whistler



  • Green roof: made from local, sustainable wood
  • Passive design: 45-50% reduction in energy use
  • Geothermal heat pump: meets approximately 70% of heating and cooling needs
  • Waste diversion: 98% of construction waste diverted from landfill
  • Locally sourced materials: approximately 33%
  • Recycled materials: approximately 18%

The Whistler Public Library was the first major project to be built following the Municipality’s adoption of the Natural Step approach/ the Whistler 2020 initiative. As such, the building was intended to showcase sustainable design principles in a visually apparent manner. The green roof, fabricated from local second growth hemlock, demonstrates an aesthetically pleasing and sustainable use of “value added” wood, which is harvested, milled and prefabricated in British Columbia.


The library is situated in the core of the village, adjacent to the Village Stroll, with convenient access to the building by foot, bicycle, skis and public transit. This site location was a strategic decision to enhance accessibility and promote alternative transportation.

The library building is targeting LEED Gold certification, and takes advantage of a number of state-of-the-art strategies and technologies to improve building performance. The green roof structure was prefabricated off-site and erected on-site with simple fastenings that reduced the need for glue and associated toxins. The roofline was profiled using passive solar principles so that the roof slopes upward on the north face to maximize desirable reading light while featuring large overhangs on the south side to minimize summer solar heat gain. The green roof itself helps to reduce stormwater run-off and increases insulation by retaining snow on the roof during the winter season.

Small south-side windows bring in low-angle winter sun and allow for cross-ventilation, while a high-performance curtain-wall system on the north side serves to maximize northern light, reducing the need for artificial daytime lighting. A direct digital control system monitors indoor air conditions and automatically controls windows and mechanical systems to maintain optimal conditions.

Nearly 70 percent of the heating and cooling requirements of the building are supplied by a geothermal ground-source heat pump. The remaining needs are supplied by natural gas-fired, high-efficiency boilers, which operate only when necessary.

All millwork and workstations were fashioned from locally manufactured medium-density fiberboard (MDF) with low urea formaldehyde content as well as finishes with only small amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), thus reducing potential toxins. In addition, hands-free plumbing fixtures and dual-flush toilets, waterless urinals, and native plantings help to minimize water use.

Currently, water consumption is 32 percent lower than it would have been without such green building measures, while energy consumption is nearly 44 percent lower than required by the Model National Energy Code for Buildings (MNECB) 1997. Over 98 percent of construction waste was diverted from the landfill.

The library was designed to allow for future changes by arranging fixed elements around a large, central space with a raised floor plate that allows for a high degree of flexibility. The use of durable materials and passive design elements means that the building will operate efficiently for many years.


The decision to use hemlock for construction of the distinctive green roof was rooted in both environmental as well as socio-economic considerations. Hemlock is an abundant but currently under-utilized renewable resource that is readily available in second growth cut blocks in British Columbia. Its harvesting does not have the same ecological impacts as the harvesting of old growth wood, such as cedar.

In this case, the Coast Forest Products Association partnered with the design team to showcase the use of hemlock in a sustainable way. It was hoped that this approach would help small, resource-based communities hit hard by the downturn in the forest industry. The wood was harvested and milled on Vancouver Island and fabricated in Vancouver. Many of the other materials used in the construction of the building were also sourced regionally, including stone quarried near Squamish.

In 2007, before the new library was built, library-generated revenues comprised $27,300. In 2008, with almost a full year in the new building, library generated-revenues more than doubled to $56,980.

“Green” technologies and companies involved include:


With up to 1,500 people visiting the library every day--a significant increase in use since occupancy of the new green building--the library creates an important gathering place for community members and visitors in the heart of the village. Brochures and online resources explain the various sustainability features of the community facility, while the library building itself transcends words as a physical testament to the resort municipality’s commitment to sustainability.

Sources include: