UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA’S
CAMPUS ENERGY SYSTEM
At the western tip of Point Grey peninsula, the University of British Columbia
in Vancouver is a 30-minute drive from
the city’s downtown core. This stunning
100-year-old campus serves a student
population exceeding 54,000. In 1925,
UBC’s Powerhouse began supplying steam
to heat academic buildings, first fired by
coal and later by natural gas. By 2010, the
plant had a peak steam load of 250,000
lb/hr and served 133 campus buildings.
But the aging system was a seismic risk,
had a deferred maintenance liability of
CA$190 million and needed significant
capital renewal. It was also identified as
the primary source of campus greenhouse
gas emissions – producing more than
50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
To address its carbon footprint, UBC
in 2010 announced aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets (over 2007
levels) as part of its Climate Action Plan:
33 percent by 2015, 67 percent by 2020
and 100 percent by 2050. Among other
components, the plan called for installation of a cleaner, greener campus heating
system: the new hot water Academic District Energy System (ADES).
Construction of the CA$88 million
ADES, begun in 2011 and completed in
2015, involved replacing UBC’s steam infrastructure with a more efficient medium-temperature hot water system. The project included installation of new insulated
piping, 105 energy transfer stations and a
154-MMBtu/hr natural gas-fired Campus
Energy Centre able to meet all campus
heating needs. At project completion, the
new system was providing space heating
and domestic hot water for 115 buildings
totaling more than 9.0 million sq ft of
floor space. It was instrumental in enabling UBC to achieve its 2015 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.
The new Campus Energy Centre, which
earned LEED Gold certification, is designed
with a host of future expansion expectations in mind. It includes four boiler bays,
each large enough for a 75-MMBtu/hr
unit, as well as space to add a 25 MW cogeneration plant ( 75 MMBtu/hr hot water
capacity) in five to 10 years.
Before the hot water conversion, UBC
had already invested in another major
Number of buildings served
Total square footage served
Number of boilers
Distribution network length
Piping diameter range
Source: Creative Energy.
1968 – began operation as Central Heat Distribution Ltd.
2014 – acquired by Creative Energy
2018 – partnered with InstarAGF Asset Management
More than 210
45 million sq ft
1. 8 million lb/hr steam
Natural gas and renewable natural gas, No. 2 oil for backup
¾ inch to 20 inches
Most 185 psig, parts 150 psig
and backup supply; but a new seismically
sound structure will be constructed around
and above it as part of Creative Energy’s
proposal for the larger redevelopment of
its 720 Beatty St. location (fig. 2). While
plans are still on the drawing board for
this, the new building may house up to 18
stories of office and retail space on top of
the basement-level plant. Project comple-
tion is expected in 2020.
Creative Energy is also partnering
with building developers and other insti-
tutions requiring energy – municipalities,
The company has a total of CA$400 million
($311.5 million) in district energy projects
now in the development pipeline across
Canada. Outside of downtown, they include
design of a geoexchange heating and cool-
ing system with cooling heat recovery to
serve Vancouver’s Oakridge community; an
ocean geoexchange heating and cooling
system for Horseshoe Bay in West Vancou-
ver; and a combined heating, cooling and
power system for Mirvish Village in Toronto.
Interior of Creative Energy's downtown Vancouver plant at 720 Beatty St.
Courtesy Creative Energy.