Students, communities and the environment will benefit from the expansion of the University of Northern British Columbia’s award-winning bioenergy heating system, thanks to a $1.1-million contribution from the Government of B.C.
The funding partnership was announced by Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk at UNBC’s 25th-anniversary kickoff celebration held today in Prince George.
The government investment will allow UNBC to begin the connection of its student residences, Enhanced Forestry Lab, and daycare facility to a new district energy system, effectively cutting down on the use of fossil fuels for heating. Energy will initially come from the existing bioenergy systems on campus.
UNBC’s Sustainable Communities Demonstration Project is designed to model a northern, rural, or off-grid community, effectively serving as a platform for education, research, and demonstration.
The total cost of the capital project is $2.2 million, and the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition and TransCanada Corporation have joined the Province as funding partners. The BC Bioenergy Network has also made a funding commitment and Pacific BioEnergy will be donating the wood pellets that will fuel the system.
Currently, the Prince George campus annually derives nearly three-quarters of its heat from locally sourced biomass: wood pellets and sawmill residue.
The UNBC energy initiative has already attracted local, provincial, national, and international awards. In fact, the Bioenergy Plant is the first building in northern B.C. to be certified as LEED Platinum. The addition of the Sustainable Communities Demonstration Project will allow UNBC to reach its goal of reducing fossil fuel consumption for heating by 85% since 2010.
Amrik Virk, Minister of Advanced Education -
“UNBC is seen as an innovative leader in the clean energy field and as a driver of economic development to create jobs and opportunities for British Columbians. Extending the bioenergy system is great for students, future generations of British Columbians, the community and our province.”
Shirley Bond, Minister Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour and MLA for Prince George-Valemount -
“With the expansion of UNBC’s award winning bioenergy system, UNBC continues to build on its leading role as Canada’s Green University. The investment announced today is another example of the ongoing partnership between our government, UNBC and industry.”
Mike Morris, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie -
“UNBC’s bioenergy system is a great model of responsible and sustainable energy practice. By augmenting this system, our community will benefit from cleaner living.”
Executive vice-president and president development of TransCanada Corporation Alex Pourbaix -
“TransCanada is committed to responsible energy development, which includes supporting programs that build strong, vibrant and sustainable communities where we operate across North America. We are proud to support UNBC’s bioenergy initiatives because as Canada’s largest private-sector power generator, we recognize the need to move towards a less carbon-intense energy future. To that end, we have invested over $5 billion in renewable energy sources and one-third of the power we produce is from emission-less sources including the largest wind development in Canada, along with nuclear, hydro and solar facilities.”
Vice-president of Pacific Bioenergy Brad Bennett -
“UNBC has shown great support for the bioenergy industry for many years. The Enhanced Forestry Lab is heated with wood pellets. The main buildings on campus are heated by the Bioenergy Plant and now the Sustainable Communities Demonstration Project that will expand the campus energy system to serve the student residences and the UNBC day care centre. Projects like this will help Canadians better understand the many environmental and economic benefits of using bioenergy systems. Pacific Bioenergy is pleased to show its support for UNBC by contributing the wood pellets required for this innovative project.”
Chair of Omineca Beetle Action Coalition and Mayor of Mackenzie Stephanie Killam -
“The Sustainable Communities Demonstration Project will add to the excellent collaborative relationship that UNBC currently has with our member communities. This project will demonstrate how the region can effectively harness their local energy sources to fuel dependable, affordable, and clean energy systems that provide jobs, economic development, and sustainable utilization of resources.”
Michael Weedon, executive director, BC Bioenergy Network -
“We are proud to be part of the expansion of UNBC’s district energy system, to build upon an award-winning platform in conjunction with government, academia and industry to prove out the economic and environmental merits of bioenergy in B.C. This investment will build further upon UNBC’s teaching and research capacity. It will transform the campus into a model of integrated sustainable northern community energy.”
President of University of Northern British Columbia Daniel Weeks -
“When the Bioenergy Plant received a national Green Building Award earlier this year, the jurors commented that it’s ‘a fabulous example of what more communities in Canada should be doing.’ We agree, and the announcement of this Sustainable Communities Demonstration Project represents our next step. Thank you to our funding partners for joining with us on a project that will bring benefits to rural communities.”
Stacey McGaghey Jones
Ministry of Advanced Education
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Communications and media relations manager
University of Northern British Columbia