Facilitating Change

Facilitating Change

Sustainability Initiative | University Wide
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Sustainable place. Sustainable mind.

The Campus as a Living Laboratory Initiative provides our partners with the opportunity to explore the environmental, economic and societal aspects of sustainability. Through this initiative, UBC has committed to being a worldwide leader in sustainability research. One of the most inspiring achievements thus far is the Bioenergy Research & Demonstration Facility (BRDF) – a partnership with leading clean technology firms Nexterra Systems and GE Energy.

Driven by the campus wide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 67 per cent by 2020, the BRDF contains a combined heat and power system fueled completely by woody biomass – a clean alternative to fossil fuels.

“It’s a unique system that fulfills an operational need and helps us achieve climate goals,” says Steve Cockcroft, UBC professor of Materials Engineering. “As the University grows, we have to increase the power and heat supply to meet demands, but we must also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The facility has put UBC on track to reduce its natural gas consumption by 12 per cent and GHG emissions by 9,000 tonnes, the equivalent of taking 1,882 cars off the road each year.

The BRDF is also the first demonstration of its kind in the world of a community-scale heat and power system fuelled by biomass.

“Until this project, fueling an internal combustion engine with biomass-derived synthesis gas had only been realized at a very small scale,” says Brent Sauder, Director of Strategic Partnerships at UBC. “The BRDF demonstrates the practicality of this technology and its applicability locally, nationally and globally. Equally important is the fact that the facility provides an operational foundation for research and learning that will mature the technology.”

We also know that successes like this will help fuel more innovation across the campus and continue to lead to a more sustainable campus overall.


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Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility Credit: Martin Dee

Through the campus as a Living Laboratory initiative, UBC has committed to being a worldwide leader in sustainability research.

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