Millions saved in largest energy retrofit

Vancouver, Canada - The University of British Columbia has announced savings of $3.8 million in energy costs over the last three years by completing the largest energy retrofit in Canadian history. The three-year upgrade project called ecotrek, will save the university an additional $2.6 million annually in the future.

“UBC is Canada’s leader in campus sustainability,” says UBC President Martha Piper. “We are confident that ecotrek will provide a roadmap for other universities, schools, hospitals and institutions seeking a cost-recoverable way to reduce their energy consumption.”

ecotrek is also now reducing UBC’s CO2 emissions by 15,000 tonnes annually, allowing the university to exceed the Kyoto Protocol targets of six per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. UBC will have reduced its emissions by seven per cent by 2008. As well, the $35 million project is reducing campus water use by 30 per cent annually—enough water to supply 11,800 Vancouver residents for one year.

“The savings the ecotrek project will achieve for UBC demonstrates the value of integrating conservation into the long term business strategy,” says BC Hydro President and CEO Bob Elton. “UBC is also taking that sustainable approach to the next level by assuring energy use is top of mind for students and faculty, advocating students switching off lights, computers, and other equipment when they’re not using them.”

“ecotrek is designed to not only save an abundance of energy and water, but also to improve comfort for building occupants,” says Gerry Nunn, Program Manager for MCW Custom Energy Solutions Ltd. MCW has been hired by UBC to design, carry-out, and monitor the project.

The improvements included:

  • Completing an energy efficient lighting upgrade
  • Major upgrades to the stream distribution system
  • Major upgrades to the Central Steam Plant to reduce UBC’s nitrogen oxide emissions by 85 per cent
  • Upgrading ventilation systems in more than 100 buildings
  • Automating nearly 4 million sq. ft. of buildings served by the campus heating and ventilation systems
  • Metering utilities (electricity, steam, and water) in most of the academic buildings to moniter usage
  • Installing low water consuming plumbing fixtures to save $600,000 per year

Electricity savings alone since the start of the project are estimated at $600,000, which will reduce UBC’s total electricity consumption by 10 per cent. BC Hydro will contribute $4 million in incentives, based on verification on the energy savings, to help UBC implement efficiency initiatives.

UBC received Power Smart Certification from BC Hydro in 2003 for its work in energy conservation.

UBC is addressing sustainability in a variety of areas including alternative transportation, green buildings, reducing waste, and creating North America’s first comprehensive university sustainability strategy complete with targets and action plans.

MCW Custom Energy Solutions Ltd. is a national energy service company that uses the latest technology to reduce the environmental footprint of universities, colleges, schools hospitals and other institutions across Canada. Now that the three-year retrofit project is complete, technicians from MCW will be on site for several years to monitor and verify the ecotrek results.

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