Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: UBC's Energy Conservation & Innovation Program
Year Submitted 2019
Person(s) Responsible for the Idea
Name / Nom Title / Titre
David Woodson Managing Director, Energy and Water Services
Phil Brusse Associate Director, Energy Conservation and Innovation
Julie Pett Sr. Energy Conservation Manager
Name of Institution The University of British Columbia
Office Address 2260 West Mall
Centre for Interaction Research in Sustainability (CIRS) - 4th Floor
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4
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Telephone: 604-822-1707
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.
Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Peter Smailes
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Vice-President, Finance and Operations
Office Address 680-1958 Main Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T1Z2
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Telephone: 604-822-9625
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Since 2000 UBC’s energy conservation efforts have continued to be enhanced as the program has adapted with new technologies and data analysis tools.  In 2001, following energy audits of UBC's 100 largest facilities, the university launched the $40 million EcoTrek retrofit program. An energy services contract (ESCO) which guaranteed annual energy savings of $2.6 million. More than 100 buildings were retrofitted between 2003 and 2008.  In 2010, the UBC Vancouver Campus Climate Action Plan targeted emission reductions of 33% by 2015, 67% by 2020 and 100% by 2050. UBC achieved the 2015 target through three major return on investment initiatives: converting its district heating system from steam to hot water, adding a bioenergy research and demonstration facility, and our Building Tune Up program.  The Building Tune-Up program was designed to conserve additional electrical and thermal energy in 72 of UBCs academic buildings, while maintaining and improving comfort. Among the measures implemented were chiller and heat recovery system optimizations, duct static pressure optimization, and optimizing HVAC start routines. This initiative now incorporates WiFi connectivity data as a proxy for building occupancy and the data is then used as a sensory input to control the supply of HVAC services to large lecture theatres and common spaces on campus.

In July 2014 UBC formed its Energy Conservation and Innovation team of four energy engineers and five building automation systems (BAS) specialists. The BAS team maintains UBC's automated building management systems, troubleshoots problematic systems, and manages all of the campus HVAC system programming and scheduling. They collaborate with the energy engineers to identify new energy saving opportunities and implement all programming changes resulting from energy audits.  The energy engineers are responsible for implementation of UBC’s Energy Management Plan (EMP), while prioritizing systems for recommissioning and energy retrofits.  The energy conservation team regularly monitors thermal energy, electricity, and water usage of buildings and performs benchmarking and data analysis to identify overconsumption and establishes multiyear targets for energy savings.  Our goal is to identify energy savings projects with paybacks of 2 years or less after any incentives or grants have been applied.

Criteria Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.

Everything UBC has done to date with our energy conservation and innovation program can be mirrored by other institutions, and is scalable. we share highlights from the various projects within the program on our web-site.



Quality Impact

The intention of UBC's energy conservation efforts was to generate savings, but not at the expense of occupant comfort.  Initiatives have focused on improving overall system efficiencies and eliminating wasteful energy use.  While in some cases the improved energy efficiency has been unnoticeable by building occupants, in some circumstances the improved system performance has resulted in a more reliable energy system.

Productivity Impact

The results of UBC’s energy conservation efforts have greatly improved building efficiency across campus, some key figures on the outcome of the program over the past eight years are given below.

Time Period:                     2000 to 2018

Dollars Saved:                   $69M (includes water conservation)


Project Costs:                    $55.8M in demand side management projects,  $115M in supply side infrastructure


Annual Energy Saved:       55 GWH Electrical,    557,500 GJ of Natural Gas


Total Energy Saved:           600GWH Electrical,    3,541,000 GJ of Natural Gas


Baseline Energy Usage:    1.2M GJ Natural Gas,  150 GWH electrical


Three key innovative aspects of UBC’s energy conservation and innovation efforts to date include:  1) the use of the WiFi system as a proxy for occupancy for controlling building HVAC systems, 2) The operational/academic collaboration with the Bioenergy Facility, and 3) the creation (in 2014) of UBC’s in-house energy conservation team made up of energy engineers and building automation specialists.