Charles Dickens - LEED school

sustainable school design

Dickens Elementary School and LEED®

Dickens Elementary School is the first accredited Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LEED® school in the Vancouver school district. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is the nationally accepted benchmark for design, construction and operation of high performance sustainable buildings.

The new Dickens Elementary School minimises its ecological footprint, and provides a healthy teaching environment designed for 80 Kindergarten and 450 Grade 1-7 students and school staff.

The total building area of 3700 square meters has 22 day-lit and geothermal heated classrooms, a library, special education rooms, post-disaster level gymnasium, a commons/lunch room (also used for a childcare program), kitchen, rooftop teaching garden, rainwater collection (for 100% of the toilet flushing needs), and an underground parkade.

Read a powerpoint presentation with more details on Charles Dickens Elementary school.

See the LEED Silver accreditation certificate.

Dickens Elementary School – “Green” Initiatives

Dickens water supply


Site and Water

  • Siting- the building is oriented east-west to maximize the use of sunlight
  • Green site- over 60% 0f the new site has native or adapted vegetation compared to the previous school which had only 7% vegetated area.
  • Stormwater management- an underground cistern collects rainwater to provide water for toilet flushing and playfield irrigation
  • Reduced water consumption – plumbing fixtures are low flow fixtures with automatic shut off faucets


Dickens energy conservation


  • Geothermal heating- 35 vertical wells under the parkade provide heating and cooling to the school wing
  • Heat recovery units use waste heat from classroom exhaust to preheat incoming air
  • Sensors and switches- all classroom have occupancy sensors to reduce the use of energy and switches to allow zoned lighting
  • Maximize daylighting- large classroom windows, with south shading to minimise glare,  increase the use of daylight and reduce the use of artificial lighting

Dickens roof

Materials and Resources

  • Salvaging and reuse– previous school building materials were salvaged for reuse at other schools and reused onsite for landscaping and crushed for backfill 
  • Roof materials were selected to reduce the urban island effect

Dickens classroom

Indoor Environmental Quality

  • Air system ensures 100% fresh air
  • Materials and finishes – flooring, paints, adhesives, ceiling tiles contain low volatile organic compounds (VOC’s)
  • Acoustics- recommendations from an acoustic consultant have been incorporated in the building design  to ensure good room acoustics, sound isolation and noise control
  • Views- large classroom windows provide expansive outdoor views and increase daylight

Other Considerations

  • Educational opportunities for students include a butterfly garden, rooftop garden, a weather station, a swale, and a building viewing station
  • Community benefits- after hour rental of full size gym, commons room, entry court and shared space for childcare program