Energy Team Projects and Initiatives

Over the years, the campus has grown, the demand for energy services has increased, and so have our costs. In response, we’ve launched various initiatives to optimize, upgrade or replace our building’s energy systems, integrate new technologies into existing infrastructure, and help us operate as efficiently as possible.


    • EME recommissioning
      • A rigorous and comprehensive on site investigation of building operations seeking to identify deficiencies and potential optimization in the operation of the building energy consuming systems and related controls.  The program is conducted in partnership with FortisBC and a mechanical consultant.  The project comprises an investigation phase and an implementation phase an is a two-year project.


    • GEO Fluid coolers 
      • Updated sequence of operation to reset LDES supply water temperature setpoint based on building demand increasing the system’s effective capacity at 33C day and fluid cooler efficiency.
    • GEO Boiler
      • Updated GEO boiler return water temperature setpoint based on boiler technical specification sheet increasing boiler efficiency by 8-10% resulting in around 750 GJ gas savings.
    • Commons ERV2
      • Updated Commons lecture theatre AHU from 24×7 operation to a scheduled operation resulting in reduced energy consumption i.e., around 150 MWh electricity savings
    • Plant efficiency study
      • Project underway to analyze performance of UBCO District Energy system and building plant to help optimize overall system performance.
    • Plant growth lights
      • Project underway to upgrade existing inefficient high pressure sodium lighting with LED lighting and dimmable controls resulting in 150 MWh electricity savings.

Campus initiatives

    • Campus wide electrical study
      • The Energy Team is looking to analyze the current campus wide high voltage electrical distribution systems and develop a strategy to best support the campus’s future needs.  This project is being managed by Project Services, implemented by an electrical consultant and reports to the Energy Team and a large list of UBC stakeholders.  A final report is due in 2023.
    • ICI 4 pipe design
      • The new ICI building is being constructed with a `cluster plant’ included in its basement. In alignment with the campus District Energy Strategy this plant has been designed to be expandable with additional LDES-connected WSHPs sized to provide heating and cooling to several buildings in addition to ICI. A schematic design of a hot and chilled water piping system to connect existing buildings to the ICI-Cluster Plant has completed; existing buildings that could be served by this system include: Admin, Arts, Gym & Hanger, CCS and RHS.
    • BMS Network
      • The Siemens BMS infrastructure has grown significantly over the years as the University continues to expand. Recently, the network was segregated into individual building VLANs to provide enough IP space for each building and allow for future expansion, as well as better control of BMS traffic campus wide. The university has also experienced network traffic issues in the past that have resulted in equipment downtime on campus and service calls to BMS vendors, adding to the existing workload and cost of campus facilities maintenance. UBCO engaged with Siemens to review overall campus network communication to identify problem areas that require attention as well to provide recommendations for future changes to the BMS network as the University continues to grow.
    • Wildfire smoke and IAQ project
      •  This project installed sensors to measure the air quality specifically at the campus buildings and provide automatic notification that air quality is poor at the UBCO campus. Wildfires are a common occurrence in the British Columbia, which has a high potential to bring wildfire smoke through Campus and into the buildings. This project added two outdoor air PM2.5 particulate matter sensors on campus, as well as an indoor PM2.5 sensor located centrally in the Administration building. A portable handheld PM2.5 meter was also purchased. This equipment can be utilized to gauge how successful our measures are in responding to poor outdoor air quality. This information can be evaluated and processes adjusted accordingly.
    • SkySpark project

Problem Statement

Campus-wide, the BMS consists of three different vendors and more than 3 different software suites for historical data collection and reporting. This inherently creates complicated and inconsistent data presentation for analysis and reporting on campus. Reporting and analysis features of the BMS front end software also lack features, requiring additional time for cleanup and reformatting of reports to create a consolidated representation of the data.  These processes need to be repeated for each data request.

Goal Statement

To implement and create a single platform for creating campus building historical energy and performance reports and analysis (specifically CO2), in a quick-responding and consistent format regardless of the original data source.

Business Case & Benefits

Implementation of SkySpark can resolve a lot of these issues.

          1. It provides a unified platform that is vendor agnostic, so historical data collection from all vendors can be centralized. Reporting and analysis of campus wide initiatives, such as CO2 analysis, can be completed directly within the platform without the need to combine information from multiple sources which takes a lot of time and resources currently being expended.
          2. Skyspark provides the ability to implement complex calculations and fault detection analysis through “rules”. Currently UBCO does not implement any FDD on campus beyond the basic BMS alarms, this additional information could decrease time spent analyzing equipment functionality and performance, and streamline recommissioning efforts.
          3. Skyspark also provides an intuitive interface for presenting historical data information, in a quick-responding and consistent format regardless of the original data source. This can be used by many user levels without requiring specific vpn access or assistance from operational staff.  This is alternative to other proprietary systems, including a data analytics platform currently implemented and being evaluated using open source software.

Long-term, Skyspark could be expanded to cover all historical trending requirements on campus, reducing reliance on the individual controls vendor’s software suite.


The initial implementation is expected to be complete by 31 July 2023

Demand reduction projects

    • EME Labs
    • Science labs
      • Demand controlled ventilation has been implemented in most labs in the science building to reduce ventilation rates when labs are unoccupied. Additionally, many fumehoods have been upgrades to variable flow so that airflow is reduced when the fumehood sash is closed. Also see the Science Aircuity project.
    • Arts and S labs
      • Demand controlled ventilation has been implemented in most labs in the ASc building to reduce ventilation rates when labs are unoccupied. This project is being implemented during the summer of 2023 and is expected to save about 1500GJ of natural gas and 240MWhr of electricity per year. With a project cost of about $65 000 and FortisBC incentives of $30 000, this project is expected to have a financial payback of less than a year.
    • Fipke labs
      • Demand controlled ventilation has been implemented in most labs in the Fipke building to reduce ventilation rates when labs are unoccupied. This project is being implemented during the summer of 2023 and is expected to save about 1100GJ of natural gas and 300MWhr of electricity per year. With a project cost of about $65 000 and FortisBC incentives of $60 000, this project is expected to have a financial payback of less than a year.
    • Science heat recovery
      • Currently heat recovered from exhaust air in the Science building is not being fully utilized due to the costs of extending the system to one major air-handler. An alternative measure is to preheat LDES supply water to the building’s WSHPs with the excess recovered heat. This option has been studied and is estimated to save almost 1500GJ of natural gas per year with cost and GHG savings of $20k/yr and 70 tons CO2e/yr. The project has been estimated to cost $190k. This project is currently waiting for confirmation of external incentives and funding.
    • Science AQGuard
      • Utilizing multiple lab sensing technologies to properly detect and provide a suitable ventilation demand control the AQGard system is able to adjust ventilation rates to improve safety and reduce energy in ten labs.
    • Ventilation nighttime flush
      • The intent of a night purge mode is to pre-cool the building’s internal thermal masses to reduce the need for mechanical cooling on warm summer days. By pre-cooling the building’s thermal masses slightly below the space temperature setpoint, the masses can absorb additional solar energy. This has two benefits. Primarily, it reduces the load on the mechanical cooling system. The secondary benefit is delaying the cooling peak to later in the day. This allows the cooling system to operate with a slightly cooler outdoor air conditions, increasing the plant’s efficiency.

Campus district energy decarbonizing

    • ASHP heat pump
      • Currently the majority of heat that is provided to the campus district energy systems is from gas-fired boilers. The LDES does get some heat from a groundwater system however hydrogeological constraints prevent this system from being further utilized. In order to meet GHG reduction targets as a part of the campus’ Carbon Action Plan, alternative heat sources are required. The proposed first stage of decarbonizing the DES systems is installing air-source heatpumps to be used as a first-stage of heating. By using the ASHPs as the first stage of heating, they will decarbonize the base heating load of the DES and achieve significant decarbonization with a relatively small installed capacity. The timeline for installation of the ASHPs is TBD based on funding.
    • TES project
      • The use of thermal energy storage (TES) is one option to reduce electrical peak demand charges and required equipment to meet peak loads. A TES water tank connected to the ICI-Cluster Plant is under consideration. Provisions for this storage tank are being made as a part of the ICI project. In addition a location for the tank has been selected in conjunction with the ICI-4pipe design. The timeline for this project is undetermined at this point.
    • Residences cluster plant
    • ICI cluster plant