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Sustainability at UBC

The University of British Columbia explores and exemplifies all aspects of economic, environmental, and social sustainability.

Already a global sustainability leader, UBC builds its international reputation by taking the lead at home: in Vancouver and the Okanagan, UBC links academic, research, and operational sustainability to become a living laboratory.

According to the College Sustainability Report Card The Sustainability Endowments Institute (SEI) created the Reporting system and canvassed over 300 universities and colleges in the U.S. and Canada on their sustainability activities. The SEI is a non-profit organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for 2010 UBC has received an A- , which is the highest rating of any University in Canada. From replacing light bulbs to constructing state-of-the-art buildings, UBC operates several programs that address the sustainability of its operations and infrastructure and generate long-term environmental, social and financial results.


As part of its aggressive Climate Action Plan In 2007, UBC met Kyoto Protocol targets by reducing GHGs in its core buildings by 6% relative to 1990 levels despite a floor space increase of 35%, UBC has set bold targets to reduce its Green House Gas (GHG) emissions though new energy projects and improved building design and operation. UBC is committed to:

  • Reduce GHGs to 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2015
  • Reduce GHGs to 67 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020
  • Reduce GHGs to 100 per cent below 2007 levels by 2050

UBC is constructing a Bio-energy Research and Demonstration Project on campus that will co-generate heat-and-power via biomass gasification. This project will generate up to 6 per cent of the campus’s electricity requirements, reduce the university’s natural gas consumption by 12 per cent and eliminate up to 4,500 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

UBC has built many more buildings with high-performance features and has earned LEED Gold certification with the Life Sciences Centre (2004) and the Aquatic Ecosystems Research Lab (2006). UBC is currently constructing new residences at Totem Park, which will meet LEED Gold, and the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, which will be beyond LEED Platinum.

UBC is a BC Hydro Partner and award winner and in partnership with BC Hydro, UBC is implementing a program of continuous building performance optimization in 72 core academic buildings. The goal for the Continuous Optimization program, combined with behavior change programs and initiatives, is to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent (compared to 2007) by the year 2015.

UBC has extensive reduce, recycles and reuse programs that include plastic bags, small e-waste, batteries, office furniture, equipment, fluorescent tubes, wood, metal and chemicals. Currently, UBC diverts 44% of its waste from landfills with goal of 70% diversion by 2015.

Conferences & Accommodations

At C&A, our commitment to green is observable in our many sustainable practices, which we encourage our guests to support:


Throwing in the towel initiatives, efficient lighting and extensive recycling programs are standard fare in our accommodations. And our facilities are cleaned with green certified cleaning chemicals using micro fibre cleaning implements that reduce overall use of chemicals. By mid 2012, over 300 low flush toilets will have been installed in our suites; our painting programs use non-Volatile Organic Compound paint; and a large geothermal field supports hot water and heating in our newest residence, Marine Drive.

Cafeteria's and Wescadia Catering

Our food operations take green to a new level. Last year, over a million dollars of our food budget was spent on food grown or raised within 150 miles of UBC campus. Our Casual catering options are delivered in recyclable cardboard boxes and Catering deliveries are made with a small fleet of vehicles that include two electric trucks. We adhere to the Ocean Wise seafood program and provide sustainable choices for our guests helping to preserve marine life and our underwater environment. Only local poultry is purchased and whole eggs are 100% free range. Only organic, shade-grown, fair trade, locally-roasted coffee is offered to clients, and any pre- and post-consumer organic waste is composted on campus in an in-vessel facility and is used as fertilizer for UBC gardens. Many of our suppliers deliver goods in re-usable plastic totes.

Meeting Services (filtered tap water, green reg services)

Each meeting offers a multitude of different ways to reduce its carbon footprint. From filtered tap water and ice for speakers to bag-free delegate registration, many options are available to green-up your meeting. And with accommodation, meeting and social venues all within easy walking distance, diesel shuttles are not necessary. Carbon free naturally!

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A Division of Student Housing & Hospitality Services

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©2011 UBC Conferences & Accommodation in Vancouver B.C., Canada
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