Kwantlen emerges as leader in energy conservation

December 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Kwantlen is shooting well under par in a game it is becoming very good at.

According to an article in Metro, “Kwantlen’s campuses use 40 per cent less energy than the typical college and 66 per cent less energy than the average university in Canada.”

Recently, Kwantlen was awarded with a 2010 BC Hydro Power Smart Leadership Excellence award for its continuing success in energy management and conservation. This is the fifth time BC Hydro has recognized Kwantlen’s involvement in energy conservation and the third year in a row it has been acknowledged with the leadership excellence award.

Kwantlen was only one of 13 other organizations in B.C to be a recipient of the award in 2010. The award recognizes organizations that have been geared towards energy savings year-over-year and continue to strive towards more savings.

“It actually becomes kind of fun. It’s like when you get better and better at a video game… you know you want to go to the next level,” said Karen Hear, executive director of facilities management at Kwantlen.

Hearn says that a huge part of the success has come not only out of her contributions, but those of the entire Kwantlen team.

“I think because we’re taken an approach that ‘We is smarter than Me’ and tried to involve a great number of stakeholders, from our service suppliers to our maintenance contractors to our in-house personnel. Everything from security officers to janitors, involving them all… they’re part of it.”

According to Metro, Kwantlen’s energy saving efforts over the past 10 years are enough to power over 4,100 homes for a year, which has also resulted in the big savings on utility costs.

For Hearn, this is major part of the big picture.

“We really want to be conscious of, one, reducing our impact on the environment, but at the same time saving money,” she said.

“Basically our costs for utilities, that’s water, natural gas and electricity, in 2001 at that point our budget was about $1.4 million. We were about 850,000 square feet. We are now 1.1 million square feet, plus or minus a slight bit, and our utilities budget this year is about $1.43 million.”

Kwantlen has been innovative with the way it is going about conserving the amounts of energy. Recently, a new system was introduced to minimize the amount of kitchen exhaust. Instead of having the exhaust fans above the grills in kitchen going all the time, Hearn and her team came up with the idea to installation of variable speed drives that work like an accelerator in a car depending on the amount of smoke and heat in the air. Now, when the grill is being used a lot, the fan speeds up, but when it isn’t, it automatically slows down to a minimum speed.

“We have tried to be very creative that whenever we are doing a renovation or a system upgrade or new building construction, we try to take that opportunity to look at what are some very creative ways that we can minimize the amount of energy that is required in support of the facility,” said Hearn.

The next project that her and the facilities management department are focused on is what Hearn refers to as the Awareness Program, which will be aimed more at ensuring students are being guided to helping making Kwantlen more environmentally friendly and identifying what a student can do on an individual level to help.

More information on Kwantlen’s energy and environmental management and its action plans and records can be found at the college’s sustainability web site.