UNBC continues to work toward increasing its sustainability with expansions to its bioenergy plant. It all started in 2009.

“We started with a wood pellet boiler that heated the greenhouse,” says Dr. David Claus, Assistant Director of Facilities. “In 2011, we added our bioenergy plant and it heats most of the main campus and then this summer we connected Residence 1 and the greenhouse back into a new piping loop that distributes heat from the bio-energy plant.”

The project involved laying the new pipe loop as well as removing electric baseboard heaters from the residences and replacing them with hot water radiators. In just six weeks, the effects have been substantial.

“There’s no longer any natural gas burning equipment in the building so we’ve reduced our natural gas usage by 100% and then at the same time, we’ve reduced our electric usage by about 40% over the last 6 weeks by not having electric radiators in there so we’re no longer heating the building with electricity.”

Further improvements are in the works.

“Immediately, which is next summer for us, we have to connect Residence 2 and the daycare. Following on from that, right now we’re still heating that new loop with burning wood pellets but what we’d like to do in the future is capture waste heat off our existing bioenergy plant and be able to use that to heat the residences.”

When completed, the project is projected to reduce the electricity use by 380,000 kWh per year – saving the school $23,000. It should reduce the school’s carbon emissions by 350 tonnes per year – the equivalent of removing the 110 cars from the road.