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October 9, 2018

UBC’s Board of Governors discuss the Green Building Action Plan

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UBC hopes to have “greener” buildings on campus by 2035.

At the September 13 Property Committee meeting, UBC’s Board of Governors met to discuss the Green Building Action Plan (GBAP), which lays out how the university plans to reduce its buildings’ respective carbon footprints.

The plan was created in response to a need for sustainable development in the rapidly growing campus, as the university hopes to make its new developments more environmentally conscious and better-suited to changing weather patterns.

On the Vancouver campus, which hosts both academic and residential buildings, the plan aims to improve ecological and human health through better plans for building renovations and new developments.

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John Madden, director of sustainability and engineering at UBC Campus & Community Planning, said the plan is part of a greater sustainability initiative on campus.

The plan outlines eight key components, each with their own prioritized goals and the most important of which the school aims to complete within just five years. The eight components include energy, water, materials and resources, biodiversity, health and well-being, quality, climate adaptation, as well as place and experience.

Component targets include reducing water intensity use by 16 per cent in 2025, making institutional buildings net-positive in terms of “contributions to human and natural systems” by 2030 and requiring all buildings to be zero-waste by 2020.

According to Madden, the eight sets of goals came from consultation with staff, faculty, consultants and other members of the UBC community to pinpoint emerging issues in sustainability.

“We […] saw, and heard through the course of our interviews that there are emergent concerns that we needed to address around climate, adaptation and resiliency,” he said.

The GBAP aims to address these concerns through changes at the building and site scale, especially for buildings that rely on thermal energy, which Madden said are “a big generator […] of climate emissions — or greenhouse gas emissions — for the university.”

Priority areas of the GBAP are energy and climate adaptability, which align with UBC’s 20 Year Sustainability Strategy — a guide for how the university can have a more positive world impact.

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