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FortisBC, UBCO earn top marks for energy efficiency innovation

FortisBC, UBCO get all A's

In 2005, the north Kelowna campus of Okanagan University College, situated in the heart of Syilx Okanagan Territory, transitioned into the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus (UBCO). Since then, it’s consistently ranked as among the top 20 public universities in the world.

In the past 15 years the university has rapidly expanded from 12 to 46 buildings. As its campus grows, UBCO focuses on innovation and energy efficiency in both new construction and renovation projects. And FortisBC has been there every step of the way, supporting the university in its sustainability goals to reduce its carbon footprint and optimize its energy systems. They did this by determining the university’s unique needs and tailoring custom solutions. This included providing rebates on energy-efficiency measures and ongoing support, like funding an on-staff thermal energy manager.

“The projects we’ve supported UBCO with have ranged from free offers like directly installed water-efficient shower heads and faucet aerators in student housing to reduce hot water demand to more complex custom projects like providing a rebate for a heat recovery chiller plant in the newly constructed Teaching and Learning Centre,” says Phil Hawkes, a FortisBC technical advisor. “One of the opportunities of this project was to connect the new chiller to the campus-wide existing district energy system (DES).”

Savings that last year after year

In the past two years alone, the university has received more than $240,000 in rebates from FortisBC for installing the chiller, as well as boiler upgrades, LED lighting, ventilation and heat recovery. In total, an annual energy savings of 1,900 gigajoules of natural gas and 1,333,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity are projected for these projects, which results in a total annual dollar savings of approximately $131,000 for UBCO.

These upgrades have additional benefits as well. “The university’s efforts to reduce energy use by taking advantage of FortisBC’s rebate programs mean less pressure on their DES—delaying the need for capital upgrades,” says Juan Rincon, a FortisBC key account manager.

And as FortisBC expands its suite of commercial energy-efficiency rebate programs to meet the growing demand for organizations and businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower energy costs, you can be sure they’ll be assisting UBCO as it continues to grow.

UBCO’s next project is a new 13,000 square-metre academic building. Currently in the design stage, FortisBC will be working with the team at UBCO to understand their energy needs for the project and provide a custom solution with the aim to help them achieve a high energy performance building—well beyond the minimum BC Building Code—with rebates through the utility’s Commercial New Construction Performance Program.

It takes a champion to move these upgrades along

Colin Richardson, UBCO’s energy systems manager, and Glen McIntyre, UBCO’s FortisBC-funded thermal energy manager, have been champions for pursuing and advancing energy efficiency in both new construction and renovation projects at the university.

“Glen’s position is partially funded by FortisBC, and his focus is on finding opportunities for innovation in energy efficiency across the campus. FortisBC has worked closely with us over the years to look for opportunities to support our goals with their conservation and energy management programs,” Richardson says. “The support of FortisBC for Glen’s position, as well as all the rebates we’ve received from them, has significantly increased our ability to implement energy-saving projects.”

“Glen and Colin have taken it upon themselves to pursue these innovative solutions that help the university reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, lower energy costs and be an example to others of how innovation and thinking outside the box can move these projects forward,” adds Rincon.

A shared commitment to reduce greenhouse gases

Both FortisBC and UBCO are committed to supporting the province of B.C.’s climate action goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). To measure progress, FortisBC created 30BY30, a tangible milestone aimed at reducing its customers’ GHGs by 30% by the year 2030. The utility’s work with UBCO is a win-win for both organizations to help achieve their respective goals and to help create a healthier tomorrow for all British Columbians.

Even bigger rebates*

Whether you’re retrofitting or building new, a small commercial customer or a large institution like UBCO, FortisBC has rebates that can help you save energy and money when selecting high-efficiency equipment and products. Now, until Dec. 31, 2021, they’ve got even bigger rebates* on high-efficiency HVAC, commercial boilers, kitchen equipment and LED lighting. It’s just one way the utility is doing its part to help its customers recover from COVID-19. Check out all their even bigger rebates at fortisbc.com/bigger.

That’s energy at work.

*Bigger rebates on select upgrades are available until Dec. 31, 2021. Bigger rebates on commercial furnaces are available until March 31, 2021. Participants must be an owner, a long-term leaseholder or a builder/developer. Rebate applications must be submitted within 365 days of the purchase date of products. Only available to FortisBC commercial natural gas and electricity customers and commercial municipal electricity customers of Penticton, Summerland, Grand Forks and Nelson Hydro. Additional terms and conditions apply.

This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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