With solid leadership, a clear vision and firm commitments, UBC has set the foundation to address climate change with the campus community. UBC’s comprehensive Climate Action Plan, launched in 2010, is the result of a multi-year planning process that involved over 200 students, staff and faculty.
As an established leader in energy and climate management, UBC reached its Kyoto targets in 2007. We reduced GHG emissions from academic buildings to six per cent below 1990 levels, despite a 35 per cent growth in floor space and a 48 per cent growth in student numbers. These achievements were largely due to ECOTrek, the largest energy and water retrofit on a Canadian campus at the time.
Building on these achievements, on March 24, 2010, UBC President Stephen Toope announced UBC’s Climate Action Plan targets, committing UBC to bold GHG emission reduction targets that exceed provincial targets, and that are among the most aggressive of the world’s top 40 universities. Compared to 2007 levels, GHG emissions will be reduced:
- 33 per cent by 2015
- 67 per cent by 2020
- 100 per cent by 2050
The comprehensive and visionary plan identifies strategies to reduce emissions in the areas of:
- Campus Development and Infrastructure
- Energy Supply and Management
- Fleets and Fuel Use
- Business Travel and Procurement
The Plan also outlines UBC’s vision for becoming a net energy producer and zero emission campus by 2050.
We’ve made significant progress in the first two years of implementing the Plan. We’re investing $117 million in three major projects that will achieve our target of reducing GHG emissions by 33 per cent by 2015:
- Converting the district heating system from steam to hot water will reduce emissions by 22 per cent.
- Optimizing academic building performance and improving behaviour change programs through the Building Tune-Up program will reduce emissions by 10 per cent.
- Generating clean heat and electricity through the Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility will reduce emissions by 9 per cent.
UBC is also developing a Community Energy and Emissions Plan to identify solutions to reduce emissions from UBC’s residential community.
Progress Reports & Inventories
UBC produces several climate and energy-related reports and inventories:
- We release an annual Climate Action Plan Report to measure, evaluate and report on our progress, and to share Plan implementation highlights.
- As part of BC’s carbon-neutral public sector, UBC offsets all of its GHG emissions and also publishes a Carbon Neutral Action Report.
- GHG Inventories to measure Vancouver campus emissions have been completed each year since 2006.
Vision for Climate Action
UBC’s Climate Action Vision was developed through a climate symposium and workshops that engaged campus partners, academics and students. In 2010, the UBC Executive endorsed the Climate Action Plan and four commitments identified during the consultation and development process:
Climate Action Vision
Confronting the challenges of climate change, the University of British Columbia will advance solutions on campus that eliminate emissions, will accelerate efforts to respond to the impacts of climate change, and will partner locally and globally to demonstrate leadership and accountability to future generations.
Climate Action Commitment
- Becoming a net positive energy producer by 2050. We will go beyond carbon neutral through aggressive conservation, deployment of renewable technologies, and by re-designing how we conduct our business.
- Partnering for change. We will drive technological and behavioural change through demonstration, innovative research and teaching, and by using our global profile to establish partnerships that allow us to learn and share solutions with others.
- Using the campus as a living laboratory. We will use our unique position–as an educational and research institution, a landowner, a tenant, a utility, a community, a forester, and a farmer–to provide integrated learning opportunities that result in the development and implementation of climate change solutions.
- Accounting for the full costs of our decisions. We will incorporate consideration of social, environmental and economic impacts in our decision-making to increase the resiliency of our communities and lead change towards a sustainable, low carbon future.
Visit the award-winning AASHE Case Study on Implementing UBC's Climate Action Plan to learn about the efforts that led to the creation of the plan.
The climate action planning process is also summarized in the Planning for Climate Action Case Study.
Contact Lillian Zaremba, Climate and Energy Engineer, for more information on the Climate Action Plan.