BY BILL PHILLIPS
UNBC is marking an anniversary this week.
It’s now been 10 years since the local university became Canada’s Green University. Over that time, the university has become a leader when it comes to energy conservation and sustainability on campus, says president Dan Weeks.
“Today is an incredibly important day for the university,” Weeks said during the Green Day ceremonies kick off at the UNBC Winter Garden Tuesday. “It’s a decade now that UNBC has been known as Canada’s Green University and secured that trademark.”
The idea to celebrate a ‘Green Day’ came from the Green University Planning Committee when it endorsed the suggestion put forward by professors Dr. Ken Wilkening and Art Fredeen to have their Environmental Studies 325 class organize and celebrate the university’s commitment to sustainability and its branding as Canada’s Green University.
“Over this past 10 years, the whole idea of Green Day has taken root and our sustainability initiatives continue to grow right across the campus,” Weeks said. “Over the years we’ve made a real commitment to be a leader in this.”
One of the projects has been to convert one of the residences to hot water heating, which reduced gas consumption at the university. The other residences are also in line to be converted.
Since 2012, green projects such as the energy-efficient LED street lights installed on campus in 2015, and the conversion from electric to hot water heating in our Neyoh residence have been funded by a $250,000 revolving loan.
“We have a line of credit for about a quarter of a million dollars,” he said. “We fund these projects and the savings we get are then put back into the loan program … What a great way to operate.”
The revolving loan is a line of credit that was made available by the University to the Energy Management Team in 2012 to fund energy projects. The loan provides the capital to finance energy projects on campus, and is repaid through the project-enabled cost savings.
Eighty per cent of the energy cost savings of a project are used to replenish the loan, until the project costs have been repaid. After the loan is repaid, payments continue at 50 per cent of the energy cost savings for the lifetime of the project.
For example, the campus street lighting upgrades are reducing the University’s electricity bill by more than $20,000 per year, where $16,000 is returned to the revolving loan, resulting in net savings of $4,000 for the University.
The revolving loan has funded a range of projects, from small LED lighting upgrades for the Teaching Lab fish tank, to large optimization projects for the heating and ventilation systems in the lab buildings.
“The revolving loan has allowed us to fund more than 20 energy projects costing more than $1 million,” said Amanda Drew, UNBC’s Energy Technician. “We have seen tremendous energy and cost savings since the revolving loan became available, and these savings are growing exponentially.”