British Columbia Institute of Technology wins international award for green, resilient renovation of their campus infrastructure

On October 4, 2019 an award ceremony took place at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. They were celebrating the Envision Gold Award they won from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure that they had won earlier in the year for their North Campus Infrastructure Project.

BCIT is the first educational institution in Canada to earn an Envision award at any level. I (Storm Cunningham) was very happy to see this news, as I once lectured at this excellent school.

The continuous community engagement throughout the North Campus Infrastructure Project has allowed BCIT to fully understand the needs of its community and to guide development and renewal opportunities that provide long-term benefits. This award further recognizes BCIT for its strong commitment and leadership in sustainability,” said Kathy Kinloch, President of BCIT.

Project context and scope:

Funded by the Province of British Columbia, the Government of Canada Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, and BCIT, the North Campus Infrastructure project provides a critical upgrade to the campus’ electrical infrastructure. Electrical power at the Burnaby Campus is currently provided through two on-campus high-voltage (HV) receiving stations called Goard Way and Canada Way, which are connected to the 12.5 kV HV service provided by BC Hydro.

Congratulations to BCIT on receiving the Envision Gold award for sustainable infrastructure. This is a great example of our government’s commitment to build modern learning spaces that benefit students, faculty, the community and the environment. These infrastructure upgrades boost innovation and long-term growth, creating good jobs for Canadians,” said the Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

BCIT sets the gold standard for innovation and sets the bar for other campuses in Canada,” said Melanie Mark, Minister for Advanced Education Skills & Training. “This project is delivering on a commitment to build a more sustainable and resilient campus and showcases our government’s commitment to a CleanBC plan to build a cleaner, brighter future for generations to come.

CleanBC aims to reduce climate pollution and boost energy-efficient solutions, while creating more jobs and opportunities for people across the province.

In 2015, BCIT had the condition of all its underground utilities for the Burnaby Campus assessed. The goal of the assessment was to help BCIT better understand the condition of each utility and plan maintenance and infrastructure investments accordingly. The condition assessment revealed that the Canada Way receiving station on the north side of campus and its associated electrical infrastructure was at critical risk of failure.

As this critical infrastructure approaches or exceeds its useful life, replacement components have been difficult to come by, necessitating a system replacement. Any disruption to the electrical service at BCIT would have a significant impact on campus operations, such as the temporary closure of educational programming. As such, BCIT made the replacement of the Canada Way receiving station and associated electrical infrastructure one of its highest priorities.

The primary objective of the $46.9 million North Campus Infrastructure Project is to improve the resiliency and reliability of the electrical infrastructure on the north side of the Burnaby Campus. The project includes constructing a new power receiving substation to replace the aging Canada Way receiving substation which powers about 50% of the campus, including all of the campus’ trades-based educational programs.

The project also includes replacing 11 substations and all related infrastructure and establishing a new BC Hydro connection at the corner of Carey Ave and Canada Way. The new electrical backbone infrastructure on the north side of campus will encompass three major electrical services: high voltage (HV -12.5/25kV); low voltage (LV – below 750V); and a telecommunications, control, and safety service. The project also includes a number of enhancements and additions to public space.

The Envision system examines the impact of sustainable infrastructure projects as a whole, through five distinct categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Resilience. These key areas contribute to the positive social, economic, and environmental impacts on a community.

Key factors in BCIT’s winning the Envision Gold award include:

Responding to stakeholder needs:

This project is unique in that it integrates a necessary infrastructure upgrade with stakeholder input acquired through the development of a larger Campus Plan. BCIT has been developing a Campus Plan since 2013 to guide development and renewal opportunities.

To develop this Campus Plan, BCIT conducted a two-phase stakeholder engagement program to properly account for and capture the campus community’s needs, goals, and issues. Stakeholder input played a key role in the development of the North Campus Infrastructure Project. For example, stakeholders requested more bike routes; additional pedestrian-oriented spaces on campus; more covered outdoor spaces to sit, eat and socialize; and more parking specifically dedicated to car share vehicles.

Such input has been accommodated in the re-design of English Street as part of this project. English Street—renamed English Walk—will become a pedestrian-friendly corridor connecting the east and west side of campus, and additional car share parking will be incorporated into the design as well. The project also includes the development of new cycling paths along Carey Avenue.

Designing to be resilient to changing conditions:

The Burnaby area is expected to experience a number of changes brought on by climate change in the coming years, including warming temperatures; longer dry spells in the summer months; more precipitation in the fall, winter, and spring seasons; and more frequent and intense storm events. The BCIT North Campus Infrastructure Project is designed to be resilient to these anticipated changes.

For example, more than 60 per cent of the project’s surface has a high solar reflectance index (SRI) value which will keep surfaces cool in the presence of solar radiation. The project’s landscaping will also serve to mitigate localized “heat islands” and contribute to a cooler campus microclimate during the expected increase in dry spells and increased ambient air temperatures.

The electrical upgrades will complement and enhance the initiative for BCIT and BC Hydro to design and construct Canada’s first Smart Power Microgrid. Microgrids can function independently and collaboratively, helping to balance power generation with demand and reducing the potential for blackouts in extreme weather events. It will be able to integrate current energy sources such as hydro and natural gas, with alternative sources such as biomass, solar and wind.

This supports the vision for BCIT to have more resilient and reliable energy infrastructure with the potential for the campus to operate off-grid in the future, in the event of an emergency or other power failure.

BCIT is the first educational institution in Canada to have the sustainability of one of its infrastructure projects validated through a rigorous, third-party process against the Envision framework,” said Melissa Peneycad, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure’s Acting Managing Director.

I hope the success of this project will encourage other educational institutions to follow suit in planning, designing, and delivering more sustainable and resilient infrastructure. ISI is pleased to present the North Campus Infrastructure Project with an Envision Gold award. Congratulations to the entire team on this tremendous accomplishment,” she added.

At the ceremony, Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training provided congratulatory remarks about the project, including acknowledging the 6,900 apprentice hours that went into it. Elder Anne Prince provided the Indigenous acknowledgement at the start of the event. Other speakers and key attendees included Doug Eveneshen, Chair, BCIT Board of Governors & CEO, Stabilization Central Credit Union; Kathy Kinloch, President, BCIT; and Janet Routledge, Burnaby North MLA. Lorcan O’Melinn, Vice President, Administration and CFO presided over the event as emcee.

Melissa Peneycad provided an overview of Envision and some of the top reasons the project earned Envision Gold before presenting the award to three BCIT representatives: Daniel Clement, Director, Facilities Services; Ian Kerr, Director, Project Services; and Craig Sidjak, Director, Campus Development.

BCIT worked in close collaboration with Stantec, PCL Constructors Westcoast, R.F. Binnie & Associates, and PFS Studio to deliver this project.

Achieving Envision Gold certification is a result of the collaborative efforts of our partners, spanning across disciplines and organizations, all who are dedicated to the successful delivery of this innovative, and sustainable project at BCIT,” said Quin MacKenzie, sustainable design lead, Stantec. “Stantec is dedicated to supporting our clients’ sustainability and resiliency goals, and together we have designed a project that will set the foundation for continuing campus development well into the future.

Featured rendering (courtesy of Stantec) shows the above-grade design elements along English Walk, part of the North Campus Infrastructure Project at BCIT.

See Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure website.

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