Green Building Innovation
20 Years of Sustainability at UBC
By incorporating geothermal energy, UBC Okanagan’s district-energy system has significantly reduced the campus’s reliance on natural gas to heat and cool buildings.
UBC Okanagan District Energy System Heat Sources
If engine tune-ups can help cars run more smoothly and efficiently, why not give them to buildings too? After all, just like cars, buildings become less efficient over time, requiring more energy to keep occupants comfortable. In 2010, UBC launched the Building Tune-Up program in partnership with BC Hydro. The partnership involves tweaking the systems of more than 70 core academic buildings to reduce their energy needs and GHG emissions while maintaining — and even improving — comfort. The result? A nine-per-cent reduction in campus energy consumption and GHG emissions.
Blueprint for a greener future
Designed to be the most innovative and high-performance building in North America when it opened in 2011, the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) — UBC’s first LEED Platinum-certified building — is UBC’s hub for sustainability and wellbeing. CIRS is home to several sustainability, wellbeing and community engagement research centres and offices. Through close collaborations and partnerships between academic researchers, government agencies, NGOs, community organizations and industry, the CIRS community continues to make contributions that help support sustainable and healthy neighbourhoods, cities and regions.
The new Brock Commons residence’s innovative mass timber construction materials will save 2,432 metric tonnes of CO2 compared to traditional structural materials.
Photo courtesy of naturallywood.com and Steven Errico
World’s tallest wood building
When it comes to carbon storage, wood is surprisingly effective. UBC’s new Brock Commons residence, on target for completion in May 2017, has pushed the limits of what’s achievable with wood construction. At 18 storeys, the building is the world’s tallest modern wood building. Not only does the innovative construction mean a savings of 2,432 metric tonnes of CO2 when compared to more traditional structural materials, it was built using sustainably harvested Canadian wood products.
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Special thanks to our story partners: The UBC Sustainability Initiative and Campus and Community Planning and the many units, departments, and faculties at UBC that helped contribute invaluable information on sustainability for this story.
Story team: UBC Communications & Marketing — Cindy Connor, online producer; Cynthia Deng, web developer assistant; Margaret Doyle, digital storyteller; Paul Joseph, UBC photographer; Michael Kam, web developer; Adrian Liem, manager, digital communications; Mark Pilon, communication designer; Jamil Rhajiak, digital communications specialist; Laura Stobbe, communication designer; Matt Warburton, manager, graphic design; Aida Viziru, web interaction designer. Content writer — Jessica Werb. Copy editor — David Leidl.
Published: May 2017