Sept. 7, 2018

Creative initiatives help decrease campus energy demands

UCalgary receives 2018 Sustainability Innovation Award for efforts
APPA 2018 Sustainability Innovation Award recipients: Steven Gasser, AVP, Facilities Management (fourth from left) accepts the 2018 Sustainability Innovation Award on behalf of the University of Calgary at the Aug. 3 award ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Steven Gasser, AVP, Facilities Management (fourth from left) accepts the award in Washington, D.C.

APPA 2018 Washington, D.C.

The University of Calgary’s Facilities team has been hard at work on two initiatives: the Utility Reduction Program (URPr) and the High Performance Green Building Program. Together, both programs green up UCalgary’s campus, assisting the university in achieving its sustainability goals and incorporate student engagement — the perfect combination to win an APPA  2018 Sustainability Innovation Award.

“The Sustainability Innovation Award criteria measure the current level and effort of a facilities management department to integrate sustainable policies and environmental practices throughout all facets of the organization, ultimately embedding them within the educational institution,” says Dan Bollman, vice-president, professional affairs, APPA and chair of the Awards and Recognition Committee. 

One of the key reasons UCalgary was given the award was because it used innovation to address campus community growth challenges and the associated energy demands. UCalgary established URPr to improve energy performance in existing buildings and the High Performance Green Building program for new buildings.

What’s innovative and creative about these programs is how they each hold campus engagement and student learning as instrumental to their success. They use student and building occupant participation to minimize unexpected issues and quickly address occupant concerns to ensure longevity of energy conservation measures. This is one indication of how Facilities is focused on improving engagement. Additionally, the programs provide hands-on learning opportunities for UCalgary students through the campus as a Learning Lab program.

“Winning the APPA 2018 Sustainability Innovation Award was a significant achievement for UCalgary because it showcases our innovation and leadership in sustainability, while simultaneously recognizing the outstanding collaboration that occurs across UCalgary’s Facilities team and between Facilities and the campus community,” says Bart Becker, vice-president, facilities at UCalgary. “We’re proud of the innovative, creative and original solutions both URPr and the High Performance Green Building Program offer the UCalgary community.”

URPr a cross-campus energy efficiency program

URPr is a five-year energy efficiency program that targets existing campus buildings. Once complete, URPr aims to reduce UCalgary’s energy consumption by 13 per cent, reduce GHG emissions by 23 tonnes annually and generate a utility cost avoidance of over $3 million per year. URPr years one and two are complete, generating an estimated annual utility cost avoidance of more than $800,000 and 8,000 tonnes in annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Year three is currently being implemented. URPr also includes experiential and applied learning to support student success through the campus as a Learning Lab program. 

High Performance Green Buildings fundamental to sustainability strategy

UCalgary is a recognized leader in developing high performance, energy efficient green buildings. For the past 10 years, it has made energy and environmental performance a critical component of major capital projects. That commitment has resulted in new buildings constructed over the past 10 years demonstrating a 50-per-cent reduction in GHG emissions compared to conventional construction. As the building industry is evolving, so are UCalgary’s aspirations — the redevelopment of the MacKimmie Complex is the first major project targeting carbon neutral operation.

Going forward, high performance green buildings continue to be a fundamental piece of the campus sustainability strategy as they allow UCalgary to make best use of its resources while providing healthy, comfortable space for the campus community. In addition to avoided GHG emissions, energy efficient new building construction also results in lower operational costs, improved durability and long-term operational resiliency.

By design, high performance green buildings are less affected by extreme weather events and more stable in the event of utilities disruption. Leading research also links improved wellness and higher cognitive performance in these high-performing, green certified buildings.

To date, UCalgary’s high performance green buildings:

  • reduce GHG emissions by 14,000 tonnes annually — equivalent to having 3,000 fewer cars on the road
  • kept 24,500 tonnes of waste out of the landfill — more than twice the weight of the Calgary Tower
  • save 135,000 cubic metres of potable water annually — equivalent to 53 Olympic swimming pools
  • created 51 acres of natural greenspace with 80-plus species of native/adaptive plants
  • manage 75,000 cubic metres of stormwater annually to protect water quality and mitigate flooding

With 11 LEED-certified projects, UCalgary has one of the largest number of LEED-certified projects on a Canadian post-secondary campus. It was the first Canadian campus with two LEED platinum certifications.