Welcome to the Whistler Sustainability in Action Walking Tour. View an interactive online map of Whistler’s diverse collection of 30 sustainability sites and initiatives. Whistler has many interesting and successful examples to share. You can visit these sites individually or combine them by create your own custom tour. Have fun exploring Whistler while learning about sustainability on foot or by bike.
The Whistler Sustainability in Action Tour Map includes descriptions, images, videos and contact information to create a story of how Whistler’s sustainability efforts help to increase health, lead to more local economic activity, are good investments and contribute to better quality environments and community.
Find out more about some of Whistler’s key sites below, watch some videos to learn more.
Learn more about Whistler2020 our shared vision and plan for continued success to the year 2020 – and an ambitious step on a longer journey to a sustainable future. Rooted in our values and a science-based approach to sustainability, Whistler2020 is long-term, comprehensive, community-developed, community-implemented, and action-focused.
>> View the Whistler: Sustainability in Action Map!
Whistler Sustainability in Action – Key Sites to Visit
The Whistler Public Library
>> Watch our video to learn more
Located at 4329 Main Street, the Whistler Public Library serves as a local hub for education and learning, offering year-round activities and services to the community. Designed by Hughes Condor and Marler Architects (HCMA), the library is a ‘green’ building that utilizes ecologically responsible and resource efficient technology. In 2010, the library received LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Gold Certification, becoming Canada’s first library to achieve this title. In addition to a green roof that reduces storm water run-off, the library was built out of locally sourced sustainable hemlock from second growth forests and uses geothermal energy to assist with heating and cooling. Hands free plumbing and dual flush toilets were introduced to reduce water consumption, as well as a high performance curtain system to limit the need for artificial daytime lighting. Since 2008, energy consumption at the Library has decreased by almost 50%, with reports indicating an annual saving of roughly twenty thousand dollars in electricity costs alone.
On a broader community scale, the library contributes to the sustainability of local residents by serving as an important space for dialogue and cross-cultural exchange. Current programs and activities being offered include reading clubs, educational seminars, documentaries and parent infant drop-ins. During the Olympics, the public library served as the Whistler Canada Olympic and Paralympics House. More recently in 2013, the library hosted the Whistler Multicultural Festival showcasing the community’s unique ethnic diversity.
Part of the success of the library can be attributed to Whistler long-term commitment to sustainability through its award winning community plan – Whistler 2020. Prominent green buildings such as the library help support sustainable practices in the community and encourage tourism to the area.
This building aligns with the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s Green Building Policy. The policy notes that ―the built environment plays a key role in Whistler’s vision for the future.‖ Green buildings help create a sustainable community by ensuring that buildings are constructed to higher standard therefore achieving lower operating costs, better occupant health and a smaller ecological footprint.
>> Visit the Whistler Public Library website
Whistler Passiv House
>> Watch our video to learn more
The Whistler Passiv House is a 3,000 sq foot building engineered to heat and cool itself through thick insulation, solar energy, ground heat and an airtight building envelope. Built for the 2010 Winter Olympics the Austrian Passiv House was home base for the Austrian Olympic officials, media and athletes during the Games. One of the first and only in Canada, the Passiv House is 90% more energy-efficient that the average Canadian home.
The Passive House approach to construction uses radically improved building envelope design and components to achieve dramatic reductions in building energy consumption of approx. 90% compared with standard Building Code construction. In a Passive House the use of a conventional heating system (e.g. a furnace) is not required to maintain high levels of thermal comfort and indoor air quality.
The design philosophy behind the Passive House concept is simple: instead of designing a building, then sizing the required heating system, here the building shell is optimized until the conventional heating system is no longer required. The small amount of heating energy which is still needed in a Passive House can then be supplied via the ventilation air stream.
Whistler Inclusive Playground
>> Watch a RMOW video to learn more
Located in Whistler’s Olympic Plaza this inclusive 13,000 square-foot outdoor play area allows children of all abilities equal access and equal fun. Everything in the playground is designed to be inclusive or accessible to children with disabilities including those with sight and hearing impairments.
The playground features natural wood treehouse structures; it’s like playing in an ancient cedar right in the middle of the village. The sensory wall, designed by Jen Gellis of Emily Carr University, is inspired by the skyline and landscape of Whistler. It uses natural organic forms to create ‘mountains’ which are encrusted with all types of materials to stimulate the senses of touch, sight and sound. There are spinning disks, swinging disks and chimes to play with.
The Whistler Conference Centre
>> Watch the Art of Meetings video
The Whistler Conference Centre (WCC) is a 40,000 square foot conference centre. Designed to look like a mountain lodge, the venue is a world leader in sustainability. From the physical building to everyday operations the WCC is committed to sustainability practices. Following the principles of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Building Rating system (LEED) certification, the WCC has implemented a number of innovative environmental strategies. For example, the roof is made from 80% recycled material, which will achieve higher levels of solar reflectivity due to the light colored materials used, reducing the “heat island effect”. The WCC was featured on the Green Meetings Industry Council website.
- The WCC replaced a single water boiler that reduced GHG by 66 per cent and energy consumption by 40 per cent.
- The WCC switched to motion sensor paper towel dispensers (50 per cent reduction in paper towel consumption).
- The WCC replaced all light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.
- The WCC uses new wastewater technologies to reduce use of potable water.
- The WCC operates a ‘scratch kitchen’, meaning there are no short cuts taken or pre-prepared items used. This helps avoid pre-processed and heavily packaged food products.
- The WCC encourages suppliers to deliver their goods in re-usable containers to avoid packaging waste.
- The WCC only features wines from British Columbia, so travel distances for these products are limited and a smaller environmental footprint is left behind.
- The WCC uses real cutlery, china, glass and cloth napkins in its food service functions for more than 95 per cent of meals served, thereby avoiding the use of disposable items and reducing waste.
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC)
>> Watch a video about SLCC
The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) is a world-class cultural centre created in partnership with the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation. SLCC embodies the spirit of partnership between two unique Nations who wish to preserve, grow and share their traditional heritage. The Cultural Centre showcases art, history and culture. Visitors have opportunities to meet artists or ambassadors, take a tour, try making a craft or playing a drum. The SLCC is an authentic First Nations experience. The Centre includes a gift shop and café serving Bannock!
Nature’s Blessing – When the site was under construction, a mother bear and her cub wandered through the building. In the First Nations culture, we understood that the bear has blessed the building and that it will be good for our families, as well as for other families who come to visit.
Architecture inspired by ancient culture – The SLCC is a three-storey, 30,400 square foot complex consisting of three buildings on a 1.76 ha (4.35 acre) site. The center is evocative of a Squamish Longhouse and Lil’wat Istken (earthen pit house used by the Lil’wat people in times past), with pictograph-adorned boulders gracing the walkways along the approach to the carved cedar entry doors. Massive beams and endless glass allow the stunning local scenery to become a backdrop for every work of art. In consultation with the Nations, it has been designed to conform to LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System, to share their cultures with the world.
Sustainability features: The Istken (the underground pit house) is built into the earth, maintaining a more constant temperature than air, keeping it warm in winter and cool in summer. The architects, the engineering team and the construction contractors held themselves to a very high standard in designing and building the Centre. It is tucked into the natural incline to minimize excavation, a tree conservation strategy was determined before construction began, and 64% of the land was preserved as natural habitat. The centre has reduced energy by using double-glazed, thermally-broken, and low emissivity coated windows, non-incandescent lights, and occupancy monitors in most rooms. Water conservation is maximized through the use of water-efficient fixtures such as dual flush toilets, waterless urinals, and low-flow shower heads. Waste generated during construction was either recycled or salvaged to avoid disposal in landfills. As much as possible, materials used to construct the building were sourced regionally. Materials such as wood, paints, and sealants were carefully selected in order to minimize the release of undesirable air contaminants and to ensure that occupants experience high air quality. Water efficient spray heads utilize moisture monitors to determine when water is needed. The roof of the Iskten Hall is a planted “Green Roof”.
>> Visit the SLCC website