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Building/Project Details

Building/Project NamePanda Passage Building/Project Size6,050.96080128 sqm
Building/Project Typeother Address 210 St. George's Drive NE Calgary AB T2E 7V6 Canada Region americas

Performance Details

Health and Wellbeing

Existing buildings or developments that demonstrate outstanding performance in improving the health, equity and/or resilience of people in local communities.

Achieved Certification Scheme: ILFI Living Building Challenge
Verification Year: 2019

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Health & Happiness Petal:
The project team confirmed that only one space in the building will be staffed for 4 or more hours a day: the lab/nursery space. It should be noted that while the room will be staffed regularly, due to the nature of the space, there are no fixed or assigned work stations.

This room is served by an awning window that animal care staff may use to control fresh air, and a dimmable solar tube to control daylighting in the space. Animal well-being was the design team’s top priority, and as such, natural light needed to be provided but it had to be controllable by animal care staff. It is recommended that panda dens not be brightly lit, and as the pandas would be transferred from their dens to the nursery, that space also needed lighting control. The solar tube installed in the lab/nursery space was the only such skylight available on the market. Similarly, the operable window was positioned so that it could provide ventilation without direct sunlight affecting any of the animal care work in the space.

Other areas of the building, namely the visitor experience areas, are flooded with natural light and dense vegetation meant to mimic the pandas’ natural habitat.

While many aspects of this Imperative were simple and straightforward, this project faced several unique challenges in complying with the LBC requirements for a healthy indoor environment. The first of which relates to the very nature of the indoor spaces. The goal for the project was to bring the outdoors in; create a realistic habitat for giant pandas, but indoors. There was initial uncertainty as to whether an indoor environment filled with living and decaying organic matter, high humidity, and existing ventilation infrastructure would be able to meet the same stringent IAQ testing requirements that LBC applies to new schools, office buildings, etc. However, through the absence of typical sources of contamination such as carpet and furniture, and through the use of simple, durable finishes, the project was able to comply with all measured indoor air quality metrics.

The second difficulty was in applying an American standard for low-impact cleaning products (EPA Safer Choice Standard) to a Canadian project. Buying American-sourced EPA-compliant products would have incurred additional shipping and transportation impacts, as concentrated cleaning products were not readily available in Canada. Conversations with ILFI on the matter resulted in an equivalent international standard being accepted in lieu of the EPA Safer Choice Standard, and have set a precedent for future international projects.

This project is an indoor and outdoor exhibit for giant pandas at the Calgary Zoo. Given the nature of building an animal habitat – not a typical office building, school or other human-centric space – designing with biophilic elements was an inevitability. To mimic the habitat of the Giant Panda, it was essential to design in a biophilic manner. The welfare of the principal building occupants, the giant pandas, was the design team’s priority and was often addressed through incorporating simple elements of biophilic design: natural materials, ecological connection to place, natural light, security and protection.

The following biophilic design framework and plan outlines how the Panda Passage meets the intent of this Imperative:

By deliberately incorporating nature through Environmental Features, Light and Space, and Natural Shapes and Forms
By deliberately incorporating nature’s patterns through Natural Patterns and Processes and Evolved Human-Nature Relationships
Through being uniquely connected to the place, climate and culture through Place-Based Relationships
Through the provision of sufficient and frequent human-nature interactions.
By including relevant cultural, ecological, and climactic studies.
The design of a natural habitat for the pandas happened through meetings, charrettes, and research by many team members. Rather than dedicate a specific discussion to biophilia, the team allowed biophilic design elements to permeate all design discussions.

Many biophilic elements were considered through the design process. The team followed Stephen R. Kellert’s classifications of biophilic categories and elements, and was able to document or incorporate aspects from the following: environmental features, natural shapes and forms, natural patterns and processes, light and space, place-based relationships, and evolved human-nature relationships.

Submitter's Details

OrganisationIntegral Group Member of GBCUSGBC, CaGBC, GBCA

“The goal for the project was to bring the outdoors in; create a realistic habitat for giant pandas, but indoors.”