UBC Campus Energy Centre Strikes Sustainable Gold

UBC Campus Energy Centre Strikes Sustainable Gold

Sustainable features and innovative approach to infrastructure achieve LEED Gold Certification.


The University of British Columbia is recognized as a leader in advancing the global sustainability agenda.

In 2007, the university committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 33% from its baseline, by 2015. As a commitment to this effort, UBC replaced their pre-existing steam boiler plant, constructed in 1925, with the state of the art Campus Energy Centre (CEC). This high-efficiency hot water heating plant and district hot-water distribution loop is an integral part of UBC’s reduction program. With it, UBC is now breathing clean.

CEC itself is a breathing building. It inhales massive amounts of air to feed the combustion process and exhales hot, humid exhaust while supporting a pulsing circulatory system that feeds hot water to 130 campus buildings.  The relationship between process equipment such as boilers, breeching exhaust, service rooms and hot water distribution equipment is driven by strict functional requirements. A perforated zinc shroud wraps the building to unify the distinct programme elements, and reconcile the many requirements for intake and exhaust louvres, vents and other service penetrations. Why zinc? because it’s highly recyclable, its patina is less toxic than that of other metals and it’s a sustainable resource.

DIALOG had more in mind than meeting sustainability targets. Lead Architect Martin Nielsen, with his team, figured out a new way to up the ante of the energy conversation on campus. The CEC’s final form, with its floor to ceiling windows, shows the student population where their energy comes from. Not only is this infrastructure building atypically located in the heart of campus, its voyeuristic facade invites the community to engage with their energy source.

The CEC is a major contributor to UBC achieving their emission targets while simultaneously redefining public interaction with district energy infrastructure.


Leave a comment

That's super that you've decided to leave a comment! Please keep in mind that comments are moderated. So, please don't use a spammy keyword or a domain as your name. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation instead. Thanks for dropping by!