When fans watch the Okanagan Heat sink baskets in the UBC gymnasium, they may not be aware that energy-efficient lighting in the building is also helping the university score on its electricity bill.
It’s not the only facility where UBC and FortisBC have worked together to push for energy savings. Since 2005, UBC Okanagan’s massive campus expansion projects have totalled more than $400 million in capital investment.
Energy efficiency programs implemented as part of expansion and upgrade projects have touched most of the Okanagan campus buildings including Arts; Arts and Sciences Centre; Engineering, Management and Education; Charles E. Fipke Centre for Innovative Research; Gymnasium; the Library; Purcell Residence; Sciences; Reichwald Health Sciences Centre; and University Centre.
Through the commercial arm of its PowerSense program, FortisBC offers incentives for purchasing energy-efficient materials as part of construction and renovation projects. The benefits add up. UBC has received FortisBC rebates of more than $700,000 for electricity and gas projects since 2005. Many of these rebates were earned by choosing energy-efficient building design and equipment for new construction. Some rebates were earned by selecting energy-efficient retrofits, such as new lighting and occupancy sensors for campus buildings.
“The benefits of energy savings are far reaching,” says Michael Shakespeare, UBC associate vice-president of finance and operations. “In addition to rebates and continued annual savings, UBC’s energy-efficiency initiatives are contributing to a resilient future for the next generation.”
Sarah Bird, a third-year student in the zoology program and chair of the Environment and Sustainability Society advocates for energy efficiency.
“There is a lot of energy demand globally. UBC’s action to reduce that load on the planet is making a statement about UBC’s commitment to sustainability,” says Bird. “I picked UBC Okanagan because it’s a small campus. Knowing that my university is also doing things to maintain environmental sustainability makes me feel good about my choice.”
“Over the past decade, UBC has reached the point where the institution is saving more than seven million kilowatt hours of electricity each year as a result of its participation in PowerSense programs,” says Roger Dall’Antonia, executive vice-president, customer service and regulatory affairs, FortisBC. “The kilowatt hours of electricity UBC saves each year translates into $465,000 in energy savings annually.”
“We are committed to working with all of our customers – big or small – to get the most out of their energy dollar,” said Dall’Antonia.
The energy savings and financial savings resulting from the programs illustrate UBC’s commitment to both environmental and economic sustainability.