UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 6 | April
Finding the Green to Go Green
UBC's Freda Pagani proves sustainability is a good deal.
By Ruth Abramson
Freda Pagani is proving every day that you have to burn energy
to save energy.
As Canada's only director of campus sustainability Pagani is working
hard to discover more ways to save UBC millions of dollars in energy
costs. Her efforts have already made the university a leader in
First she spearheaded the concept of UBC's C.K. Choi Building,
which, when it opened in 1996, set new green benchmarks for the
Recently she won approval for a $35 million dollar program to make
mechanical and electrical upgrades to university buildings. The
project, called ECOTrek, is guaranteed to generate $3 million in
"ECOTrek will more than pay for itself within 15 years,"
says Pagani. "This energy retrofit is the largest initiative
of its kind in Canada."
In the campus core, ECOTrek will reduce energy use by 30 per cent,
water by 45 per cent, and C02 emissions by 30 thousand tonnes annually.
Pagani's previous energy and water reductions have saved UBC almost
$2 million since 1998.
"My biggest challenge is to get every member of the community
to include sustainability in day-to-day decision-making," she
says. "We usually know what we need to do - like refraining
from driving and using less paper. But the difficulty in actually
doing such things lies in changing our mindsets and habits."
Changing personal behaviour is the key to integrating UBC's Sustainable
Development Policy, she notes. It acknowledges that UBC along with
hundreds of other universities signed two international declarations
promising to accept responsibility for creating an ecological, economic
and socially balanced campus. UBC, it says, must also serve as a
leading role model.
To address the mindset challenge, Pagani has launched some innovative
behaviour-change programs. One of them is Canada's only initiative
that brings together students, faculty, and staff specifically to
address sustainability issues. Since SEEDS (Social, Ecological,
Economic Development Studies) began in January 2001, more than 200
members of the campus community have participated.
Another initiative, Pagani's Sustainability Co-ordinator program,
involves more than 100 volunteers who bring activities to their
"None of our accomplishments could have happened without
the commitments of thousands at UBC," she says. "The community
should be very proud of itself."