Engineering a greener future

UBC Master of Clean Energy Engineering students learn in UBC neighborhoods

Graduate engineering students on UBC’s Vancouver campus are contributing to a greener future through energy assessments in UBC University Neighbourhoods Association (UNA) developments. Their projects are demonstrating clean energy solutions that could potentially be used by other communities on campus and beyond.

Student Mike Hoy is helping homeowners in the Hawthorn Neighborhood (located south of Thunderbird Blvd. on Main Mall) interested in implementing alternative energy systems and energy efficiency upgrades to reduce consumption and greenhouse gases (GHGs).

For the project, Hoy is monitoring energy data, performing an audit and researching efficiency improvements and sustainable solutions, including solar and geothermal for 20 units in the complex. He will also survey 10 homeowners and align their preferences with results from his technical analysis.

“Buildings are responsible for 30 per cent of GHG emissions in North America, so it is important to make them more energy efficient,” says Hoy, 31. “UBC provides a unique environment that enables us to learn from real data and positively influence a real community.”

Senthil Rushya, another student in the program, is studying residential buildings in the Sitka development that is going up on the corner of Agronomy Rd. and Wesbrook Mall, slated to be completed by fall 2012. He is assessing the environmental and economic aspects of installing a heat recovery system of grey water from dishwashers, laundry and household sinks. Since any hot water that goes down the drain carries energy away with it, capturing this energy and recycling it to preheat cold water will reduce energy consumption.

“We strive to help students work on real-world energy problems for their master’s projects,” says Eric Mazzi, Power Smart® Instructor with UBC’s Master of Clean Energy Engineering program. “UBC’s  living laboratory provides our students with valuable learning that they carry forward to their future jobs.”

Launched at UBC in 2009, the Masters of Engineering in Clean Energy Engineering is intended for those with an undergraduate degree in engineering with interest in advanced training in energy efficient technologies and policies. It graduated its first class of 24 students in May 2011 and as many as 90 per cent are now employed in energy-related positions, Mazzi says.

“It is our goal to inspire innovation in our students so they can take that knowledge forward and effect positive change,” Mazzi adds.

“The UNA is fortunate to have access to the talent of the Clean Energy Engineering students,” says Ralph Wells, UNA Sustainability Manager. “This is a win for the community and the students, and we hope these are the first of many projects to come.”

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UBC Reports | Vol. 57 | No. 11 | Nov. 3, 2011

Student Mike Hoy is helping homeowners reduce their energy consumption. Martin Dee Photograph

Student Mike Hoy is helping homeowners reduce their energy consumption. Martin Dee Photograph

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Through UBC’s SEEDS program, more than 4,000 students, staff and faculty have advanced campus sustainability since 2000, from improving campus eatery operations to increasing the energy-efficiency of buildings.

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