Media Release | Apr. 8, 2009
UBC welcomes $68M investment in “green” infrastructure
Research infrastructure and sustainability at the University of British Columbia today received a major boost from the federal and provincial governments totaling nearly $68 million.
The investment was announced today in Victoria by Tony Clement, federal Minister of Industry and Murray Coell, provincial Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development.
The Biological Sciences West and South buildings at UBC’s Vancouver campus will receive $65 million to renovate research facilities and classrooms originally built more than 50 years ago, while incorporating the latest sustainable features. The Geoexchange System at UBC Okanagan, which uses groundwater from under the campus to heat and cool buildings, will receive $2.9 million to make the campus emissions-free by 2010.
The provincial and federal governments are contributing equally to the two projects. The federal infusion is part of the recently launched Knowledge Infrastructure Program.
“Both the federal and provincial governments clearly recognize that the global economic downturn requires governments at all levels to pursue measures that both mitigate current difficulties and support our long-term success,” says UBC President Stephen Toope.
“This remarkable investment will fuel much needed short-term economic development while strengthening the research platform that has made British Columbia and Canada international leaders in research and education.”
“The BioSciences complex serves as a hub for research involving more than 400 researchers and contains classroom and lab space serving more than 14,000 student enrolments a year,” says UBC Dean of Science Simon Peacock. “The new funding will enable much needed upgrades and help attract the brightest minds from around the world”
The BioSciences project is part of Phase Two of UBC Renew, a partnership between UBC and the B.C. government that has already seen seven buildings completely refurbished for a total cost of $71.7 million – and a savings of $53.7 million over replacing the structures.
In 2006, UBCO installed the first phase of a geoexchange system to provide heating and cooling needs for the campus’s new buildings. The new funding will expand the system campus-wide and convert all existing buildings currently using fossil fuel technology to harvest energy from the Great Okanagan Aquifer. The initiative has already reduced UBCO’s CO2 emissions by 62 per cent and is expected to make the campus emissions-free by 2010 – the equivalent of taking 14,000 cars off the road over the next two decades – while saving an estimated $610,000 in energy costs each year.
“Our goal is to build the most sustainable university campus in North America, and being virtually emissions-free is a huge step toward achieving that goal,” says Doug Owram, Deputy Vice Chancellor at UBCO. “We are very grateful to both the federal and provincial governments for their partnership and vision in helping us achieve such an important objective. Our geoexchange system will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of our campus.”
The BioSciences Renew Project is expected to be completed by spring 2011. The upgrades will eliminate an estimated $43.3 million in deferred maintenance while bringing the buildings to LEED Silver standard.
The two projects are expected to create a total of 1,601 jobs in B.C. and 2,135 jobs across Canada for the duration of the construction.
The Industry Canada/Province of BC announcement is available at http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/ic1.nsf/eng/04566.html
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