The Bioenergy Plant at the University of Northern British Columbia has received the most prestigious national award for sustainability in construction. The recognition from the Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) and Sustainable Architecture and Building Magazine has never before been awarded to a facility in Northern BC.
The 2014 Canadian Green Building Awards were presented in Toronto on Monday night at the CaGBC national conference. The Bioenergy Plant was one of only eight buildings this year to receive the honour, which is extended to facilities that “are among the most exemplary sustainably-designed buildings in Canada.” To date, in the seven years since the awards program was introduced, only 50 buildings nationwide have received this recognition. The Bioenergy Plant is certified as LEED Platinum, the highest level of LEED certification, recognizing leadership in environmental design.
The Bioenergy Plant was funded by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia and opened by Premier Christy Clark and MP Dick Harris in March, 2011. Since then, the consumption of fossil fuels to heat the buildings connected to the campus district energy system has decreased by nearly 90%. The building features biomass gasification technology from Vancouver-based Nexterra and was designed by Hughes Condon Marler Architects of Vancouver. The Bioenergy Plant was built by IDL Projects of Prince George.
“This project really demonstrated innovation and collaboration among the design consultants, construction management, and client collectively,” says Sheldon Boyes, Vice-President of IDL Projects Inc. “It was truly a team approach that led to the LEED Platinum rating and now this Canadian Green Building Award. We’re proud to have been part of it.”
“It is a testament to the University’s commitment to sustainability and the project being part of campus-wide initiatives that bumped the building’s status to this level,” says architect Karen Marler.
The award from the Canadian Green Building Council is the latest in a series of awards that have been received by UNBC’s bioenergy project. The first was in 2010 when UNBC tied with Harvard University for the top campus sustainability project in North America. Others have included a provincial award from the BC Clean Energy Association and local awards for environmental leadership, innovation in technology, and design. In a survey of university students nationwide conducted by the Globe and Mail in 2011, UNBC was tied for first for environmental commitment.
The Bioenergy Plant houses one of two bioenergy systems at UNBC. The other is a wood pellet system at the I.K. Barber Enhanced Forestry Laboratory. It was created by the Government of Canada and the Wood Pellet Association of Canada and consumes pellets donated by Pacific Bioenergy. UNBC is hosting the opening reception for the International Bioenergy Conference and Exhibition, which will be held in Prince George from June 11-13.