Vancouver Island University - Cowichan Campus


Intensive Institutional

Vancouver Island University, Cowichan Campus, Duncan, BC, 50,000 square foot green roof

Landscape Architect: Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture Inc. (Award Winner)
Waterproofing Membrane: Soprema
Civil Engineer: Herold Engineering
Green Roof Contractor: Paradise Cityscape
Architect: Garyali Architects
Construction Manager: Yellowridge Construction
Landscape and Green Roof Maintenance: Island Irrigation
Mechanical Engineer: AME Consulting Group
LEED / Sustainability: Advicas

“Vancouver Island University (VIU) gives credit to the design of the Cowichan Campus as being key to our success in recruiting and retaining students, faculty and staff.”

– Drew Taylor, project manager, Facilities Services and Campus Management, VIU

A Place to Learn and Grow

Vancouver Island University’s new Cowichan Campus is a place for celebration and learning. Located approximately 38 miles northwest of Victoria, the university is one of the largest employers in the Cowichan Valley; and 17 percent of students belong to the Cowichan Tribes. Through consultation with the Cowichan Tribes, First Nations’ values and culture are expressed in the open building format with cultural artifacts, the significant use of wood and ethnobotanical gardens on the rooftop. The connection to the greater landscape of Cowichan Valley is reflected in extensive wet grasslands, large bigleaf maple trees and multiple green roofs that recreate meadow, forest and coastal bluff ecosystems. The site is an extension of the Somenos Marsh, which is comprised of large meadow areas. Plants were chosen from the local nursery to reflect the surrounding landscape; and the roof was planted with over 44,000 native coastal meadow sedums, grasses and wildflowers.

The building features 6 types of roof systems on 3 levels. Level 3 is fully accessible by students, staff and visitors; and provides quiet spaces to gather and areas for hands-on learning. Level 1 is on grade and accessible; and Level 2 locations are inaccessible. Green roofs cover 88 percent of the campus buildings, with sections of intensive green roof (with trees, shrubs, climbers and groundcovers), extensive green roof (with native coastal meadow sedums, grasses and wildflowers), extensive sloping roofs with additional slope / water retention to reflect the hillsides of the Cowichan Valley, pre-vegetated sedum mats and a blue roof (which provides additional stormwater retention). The project has been awarded LEED® Gold Certification.

On average, 90 percent of the annual rainwater is retained on the roof in 8 cisterns, which are partially buried in the ground next to the building. Runoff is also retained onsite through permeable surfaces under the parking lot and the entrance plaza, rain gardens and wet meadows.


Students and staff have created a rooftop garden area and have planted salad greens, herbs and climbing beans—this is part of the Employability Skills course, which is taken by 12 students with disabilities. The results were very positive. By integrating green roofs and other forms of green infrastructure throughout the project, it is clear that the new Cowichan Campus at VIU is an exceptional place to gather, learn and grow.

Green Infrastructure Design Charrette

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