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The University of British Columbia
2004 / 05 Annual Report
towards 2010
Think Global: Raising the Bar at UBCThe Year in ReviewDefining - and Modeling - Global CitizenshipRecruiting Allies in a More Civil SocietyA Sustainable UBC - A Sustainable University TownInvesting in a New Generation - a New UBCDonors & EndowmentFinancial HighlightsSocial HighlightsEnvironmental HighlightsLeadershipContact / FeedbackPDF Version

A Sustainable UBC - A Sustainable University Town

For the first nine years that he worked as a Research Associate at the UBC Centre for Conservation Research, Ralph Wells lived the fragmented life of a commuter, spending as much as three hours a day driving back and forth from his home in Coquitlam. Then, two years ago, Wells stepped out of his car and into the on-campus faculty and staff housing on Hawthorn Lane.

"I knew I'd like not commuting," Wells says. "But the improvement in my quality of life went well beyond what I expected. It was just so nice to get all that time back."

Ralph Wells
Research Associate Ralph Wells, resident of the emerging University Town on UBC's Vancouver campus, finds time -- much more time -- for relaxation with a sustainable lifestyle.

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Even bigger benefits came in what Wells characterizes as an overall improvement in his quality of life. He runs and cycles in nearby Pacifi c Spirit Park. He works from home more often, confi dent that he can still get to a meeting quickly if something pops up. And best of all, he avoids the angst and chaos of the daily rush-hour drive. "I am," he says, "a more relaxed person all around."

It's a perfect illustration of one of the goals of UBC Properties Trust in developing University Town's mix of sustainable housing. UBC is working to ensure that more than 50 per cent of the 7,000 new residences planned for University Town will be targeted for people who work and study on campus.

This will reduce the number of daily trips to and from campus (reducing the burden of traffic and air pollution on surrounding neighbourhoods), even as it builds a more sustainable and coherent work-study community at UBC -- an intellectually vibrant social habitat. (And land lease revenues will contribute substantially to UBC's endowment, thereby increasing student fi nancial assistance and research opportunities.)

For his part, Wells is now making a permanent commitment to his new way of life. He has signed on as a "co-developer" of a new a sustainable housing project called Clement's Green -- also located in the Hawthorn neighbourhood.

UBC Properties designed the co-development system in order to make new campus housing more available and affordable to UBC faculty and staff. Under the system, prospective buyers take a role as developers, putting up equity for the project, while UBC Properties manages the project. This provides working capital and eliminates sales commissions and other expenses that can amount to up to 20 per cent of the cost of a new home.

Wells is the first to acknowledge that his new residence will still strain his budget -- "There will be no money left over for a nice car."

True, but now when he walks through the front door, he is closer to his Forest Science Centre office than he was in the lot where he used to park his car.

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