Students, communities and the environment will benefit from the expansion of the University of Northern British Columbia’s award-winning bioenergy heating system, thanks to a $1.1-million contribution from the Government of B.C.
The funding partnership was announced by Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk at UNBC’s 25th-anniversary kickoff celebration held today in Prince George.
“UNBC is seen as an innovative leader in the clean energy field and as a driver of economic development to create jobs and opportunities for British Columbians," Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk sdaid.
"Extending the bioenergy system is great for students, future generations of British Columbians, the community and our province.”
The government investment will allow UNBC to begin the connection of its student residences, Enhanced Forestry Lab, and daycare facility to a new district energy system, effectively cutting down on the use of fossil fuels for heating. Energy will initially come from the existing bioenergy systems on campus.
UNBC’s Sustainable Communities Demonstration Project is designed to model a northern, rural, or off-grid community, effectively serving as a platform for education, research, and demonstration.
“With the expansion of UNBC’s award winning bioenergy system, UNBC continues to build on its leading role as Canada’s Green University," said Shirley Bond, Minister Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour and MLA for Prince George-Valemount.
"The investment announced today is another example of the ongoing partnership between our government, UNBC and industry.”
The total cost of the capital project is $2.2 million, and the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition and TransCanada Corporation have joined the Province as funding partners. The BC Bioenergy Network has also made a funding commitment and Pacific BioEnergy will be donating the wood pellets that will fuel the system.
Currently, the Prince George campus annually derives nearly three-quarters of its heat from locally sourced biomass: wood pellets and sawmill residue.
The UNBC energy initiative has already attracted local, provincial, national, and international awards. In fact, the Bioenergy Plant is the first building in northern B.C. to be certified as LEED Platinum.
The addition of the Sustainable Communities Demonstration Project will allow UNBC to reach its goal of reducing fossil fuel consumption for heating by 85% since 2010.