Climate and Energy

UCalgary saves annual utility costs by reducing GHG emissions from our built environment.

Help reduce a building's electricity usage by up to a third:

Turn off lights.

Take the stairs.

Power down computers.

Report issues to Facilities.


Energy leadership

UCalgary is a Canadian post-secondary leader in carbon emissions reductions. 

As a signatory to the 2015 Paris Agreement, Canada committed to reducing GHGs by 30 per cent across the country by 2030 in an effort to help reduce global carbon emissions. The University of Calgary surpassed the 2030 target more than a decade ahead of time, attaining a GHG reduction of over 30 per cent across the institution since 2008.

Guided by the University of Calgary’s Climate Action Plan and the Institutional Sustainability Strategy (ISS) and its Framework on Sustainability in Administration and Operations, UCalgary is striving to attain net-carbon neutrality by 2050 through being a Canadian post-secondary leader in energy efficiency and healthy, high performance green buildings. 

UCalgary has reduced GHG emissions* by implementing initiatives and programs that make our energy supply and buildings more efficient. As of 2018, we have achieved a 30 per cent reduction from our 2008 baseline, eliminating approximately 69,000 tonnes in annual GHG emissions. That’s equivalent to the energy generated by about 17 wind turbines in a year, and is one of the largest GHG reductions of any post-secondary institution in Canada.

*Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, taking into account energy efficiency conservation measures in 2017-18. 

Energy Supply


Cogeneration System: Combined Heat and Power

UCalgary’s Central Heating and Cooling Plant’s Cogeneration system has reduced institutional GHG emissions by more than 60,000 metric tonnes each year since 2011.

Learn about the Cogeneration System

Renewable Energy

UCalgary is shifting towards a cleaner and greener energy supply by generating our own renewable energy with on-site photovoltaic (PV) arrays. Current PV systems on campus include: 

  • A 60 kilowatt kW array on the roof of the Engineering G block in the Canadian Natural Resources Limited Complex. This array is the largest installation of PV panels anywhere on campus and is expected to generate over 66,000 kWh of electricity per year to help power the building - that's enough energy to power the equivalent of ten Alberta homes
  • A 43.4 kW array on the roof of the Child Development Centre. This PV system was awarded the Canadian Solar Industries Association ‘2007 Project of the Year’ and was the first building to achieve LEED Platinum status in a cold climate
  • A 7 kW array on the roof of the Cenovus Spo’pi Solar House, featuring 37 panels on the roof of the building. After placing tenth overall in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathlon, the house now serves as a permanent facility for promoting sustainability and solar research on campus. It is a net-zero building, and generates enough electricity to provide for a typical family of four for an entire year.

Energy Efficiency


Existing Buildings: Utility Reduction Program

To date, the Utility Reduction Program (URPr) has reduced UCalgary’s energy consumption by ~13,000 tonnes and generated ~$1,500,000 in cost savings. 

Projects within the program are designed to bring aging infrastructure up to more energy efficient standards with a focus on mechanical upgrades, lighting retrofits, installation of energy recovery systems, as well as upgrades to the district energy distribution system. URPr examines buildings across all campuses and selects and implements projects based on their potential to improve building energy efficiency and reduce energy wastage.

The URPr investments into the building controls enable improved indoor environmental air quality by tracking ventilation rates within the laboratory spaces to ensure they are meeting the operation requirements of the space. In addition, demand control ventilation improves indoor air quality by allowing the ventilation system to adjust for increased times of building and space occupancy by tracking interior CO2 in spaces and increasing fresh air delivery when required.

On December 19, 2019, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced that URPr will receive an additional injection of funds up to $8.5 million for retrofits at Foothills and Main Campus. The funding comes from the Champions stream of the Government of Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Challenge, which invests in projects that reduce carbon pollution, and will enable UCalgary to reduce energy consumption in laboratories and medical buildings through the implementation of digital controls, LED lighting and heat recovery. 

Learn more

New Buildings: Green Building Program

With 13 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified projects, and 4 registered projects currently underway, UCalgary is a Canadian leader in high performance green buildings. Find out how the redeveloped MacKimmie Tower and new link and block is designed as a high-performance, net-zero carbon building and one of the first projects striving for certification with the Canada Green Building Council’s Zero Carbon Building Standard

Each year, UCalgary’s Green Building Program is responsible for reducing:

  • Electricity consumption by more than 30,000,000 kWh.
  • Natural gas usage by more than 85,000 GJ.
  • Main campus cooling requirements by more than 92,000 GJ.
  • Main campus heating requirements by more than 90,000 GJ.

Collectively, this reduces GHG emissions by approximately 14,000 tonnes annually.

Learn about Green Buildings