UBC—essentially, a city of 70,000 people—is taking steps to completely eliminate institutional greenhouse gases in Vancouver by 2050.
While dramatic emission reductions are not new at UBC—the university was Canada’s first to meet the Kyoto Protocol targets in its academic buildings—achieving carbon neutrality has inspired the university to re-envision itself as a living laboratory for sustainability.
UBC is on track to meet or exceed its targeted 2015 reduction of 33 per cent as a result of three flagship projects valued at more than $116-million-dollars.
Hot Water District Energy System
An new $85-million, 14-km hot water district energy system,
to be completed by 2015, will slash carbon emissions by 22 per cent (11,000 tonnes), akin to removing 2,000 cars from the road.
Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Project
When completed in 2012, this pioneering $27-million bioenergy project—it runs on wood chips—will eliminate up to nine per cent (4,500 tonnes) of campus emissions, akin to removing 1,100 cars off
the road, while generating enough electricity to power 1,500 homes.
By improving operations, maintenance and energy monitoring
in 72 core academic buildings, this $4-million program is expected
to reduce carbon emissions by 10 per cent by 2015.
TOTAL 33% GHG REDUCTION
While still in the planning stage, these projects are expected to help UBC meet or exceed its 2020 target of a 67 per cent GHG reduction.
UBC is exploring opportunities to recover waste heat from TRIUMF, the national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics at UBC. If it proves viable, it would provide a major new source of energy and as much as 23 per cent in emission reductions. Projected cost and completion: $16 million, 2016-2018.
Smart Energy System
UBC plans to develop one of the first community integrated energy management systems. Improving energy monitoring and management across the university’s more than 400 academic and residential buildings while integrating new clean energy sources will help UBC achieve carbon and energy goals and identify new opportunities. Projected completion: 2015.
BC Hydro Self-Sufficiency
BC Hydro’s goal to provide carbon-neutral electricity by 2016 will result in a 6.5 per cent GHG reduction for UBC.
TOTAL 67% GHG REDUCTION
With 70 per cent of GHG reductions planned by 2020, the remaining steps to become carbon neutral will include:
Alternative Energy Projects
UBC is exploring new sources of energy for campus, including ocean thermal energy, sewer waste heat recovery, plus advances in geothermal, bioenergy, solar thermal and photovoltaic, wind, and energy storage. Successful projects will reduce carbon emissions and the reliance on natural gas and electricity.
Currently all new UBC buildings must meet or exceed LEED Gold and use 42 per cent less energy than national standards. Future buildings will aim to be carbon neutral or “net positive,” like UBC’s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, which removes 150 tonnes of carbon from the environment annually.
By expanding the U-Pass transit system to staff and faculty and switching its 300-vehicle fleet to electricity or other types of clean energy, UBC hopes to achieve further reductions in greenhouse gases.