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The Ring - The University of Victoria's Community Newspaper

June 5, 2003 · Vol 29 · No 9

UVic a leader in campus energy conservation

 

by Marni Friesen

 

UVic has won an Energy Innovators Initiative Award from Natural Resources Canada's office of energy efficiency — the result of an energy assessment that found UVic consumes less energy than almost any other postsecondary institution in the province.

 

The 2002 energy audit by Prism Engineering Ltd. found that UVic was second only to Vancouver Community College in energy efficiency.

 

The secret of UVic's success is decades of ongoing effort, according to Gerry Robson, executive director of facilities management. "Significant energy savings have come from lighting retrofits," he says, "but another big factor is that buildings constructed on campus in the last 15 years have been designed with energy efficiency as a priority."

 

The Centre for Innovative Teaching and the Engineering Lab Wing, built during the 1990s, are cases in point. The latter won B.C.'s Power Smart Award for Excellence for Institutional Construction, in large part due to the use of the Visionwall system, which includes insulating window glazes and light shelves that help keep the building cool and maximize natural light. The Engineering Lab Wing alone saves UVic 723,000 kilowatt-hours per year, enough energy to serve 73 single-family homes.

 

More than 80 per cent of all UVic's indoor lighting has been retrofitted to use less power, increasing efficiency by 30 to 40 per cent. UVic also avoids air conditioning, using it only in sensitive areas such as computer labs, the biology department's snake lab, or the fine arts slide library. Campus-wide monitoring systems allow facilities management to effectively control heat and ventilation levels according to season and time of day.

 

Efforts to save on power have been ongoing since solar panels were installed to heat the McKinnon pool in the early 80s, and over the years, facilities management has always looked for other ways to conserve. The latest UVic initiatives include investment in alternative energy sources such as mini-hydro and wind power, by purchasing "Green Power" certificates from BC Hydro.

 

Lynn Bartle, UVic's sustainability coordinator, emphasizes that energy efficiency on campus is part of an overall sustainability plan that includes promoting alternative transportation, and trying to limit UVic's overall impact on the environment.
"Not only do we reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower our resource consumption by being energy efficient," says Bartle, "but we save money as well. It just makes sense all around."

 

In the upcoming year, facilities management will continue its efforts in the area of energy efficiency by further investigating energy-saving opportunities that still exist on campus and by continuing with lighting retrofits.

 
 
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