Stormwater Management

At UBC, we think of stormwater as a resource to be managed, rather than wasted. We’ve integrated innovative stormwater management practices into our campus planning and design since 1997. These strategies incorporate the natural systems around us, and demonstrate our commitment to sustainable development.

Approximately five billion litres of rainwater fall on the UBC campus annually. The University also has four watersheds that drain from campus, and sits on a natural aquifer, a porous, layered bed of sand and gravel that holds water.

The Vancouver Campus Plan outlines the specifics of how we manage the volume of stormwater at UBC, within the constraints of our unique hydrogeology, and concerns over the erosion of the cliffs located on the adjacent Pacific Spirit Park Lands. The plan includes mandatory design guidelines for all new UBC buildings to pursue LEED® credits for stormwater rate and quantity management.

Integrated Stormwater Management Plan

UBC Campus + Community Planning is developing an Integrated Stormwater Management Plan, to be completed in 2013.

Due to global climate change, extreme weather events like windstorms and floods are expected more frequently in our region. Effective stormwater management has helped UBC become resilient to storm-related events to date—and our new Integrated Stormwater Management Plan will improve our ability to address these events in the future.

The plan will outline long-term strategies and actions for stormwater quantity and quality control at UBC, using innovative approaches to improve upon conventional stormwater systems.

The comprehensive plan will build on the natural systems approach used successfully to date on campus, with a focus on: 

  • Minimizing stormwater flow outside UBC boundaries
  • Incorporating water quality standards for stormwater leaving campus boundaries, equivalent to best practices in comparable urban areas 

Stormwater Management Innovations

Several areas on the UBC campus illustrate our efforts to advance stormwater management approaches and systems.

Wesbrook Place

Wesbrook Place, a UTown@UBC residential neighbourhood, uses stormwater flood control techniques like rainwater retention, green roofs, rain gardens and sediment control to improve water quality. Rather than whisking stormwater away through underground storm sewers, surface water is captured in attractive pools, to provide irrigation for landscaped areas. Landscape features at Michael Smith Park also demonstrate our commitment to effective stormwater management. 

Sustainability Street

Sustainability Street is a vibrant, public space on campus that connects people, ideas and technology. The pedestrian-oriented promenade is a practical demonstration of new approaches to managing waste, energy and water in an urban environment.

The street’s stormwater system collects and treats water in a small space, naturally filtering out water-borne contaminants before stormwater enters the water table and surrounding streams. Sustainability street is the world’s first closed loop water recycling and reuse system that integrates stormwater management, wastewater treatment and ground-source geo-exchange to heat and cool adjacent academic buildings.