UBC Campus Energy Centre

Location

Vancouver, BC

Size

2,000 square metres

Completion

2016

Architect

DIALOG

Structural Engineer

Fast & Epp

Project Owner

UBC Properties Trust

Construction Manager

Ledcor Group

Project Materials

Cross-laminated timber (CLT)

Glue-laminated timber (Glulam)

Siding

Structural Systems

Low rise

Mass timber

Post + beam

Set in the heart of the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver grounds, the Campus Energy Centre is a state-of-the-art hot-water boiler facility that uses wood in striking fashion; the natural warmth of mass timber is unusual in a building of this kind—creating a unique visual contrast to the enormous equipment housed inside.
  • primary structure built from glue-laminated timber (glulam) post and beam frame, with cross-laminated timber (CLT) enclosed walls and roof.  
  • Transparent design demonstrates its function and educates passersby. 
  • Helps deliver the daily energy demands of a university campus 400 hectares in size 

Set in the heart of the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver grounds, the Campus Energy Centre is a state-of-the-art hot-water boiler facility that uses wood in striking fashion; the natural warmth of mass timber is unusual in a building of this kind—creating a unique visual contrast to the enormous equipment housed inside.

The Campus Energy Centre (CEC) is a synthesis of these two approaches; It is a hybrid structure that includes a significant amount of wood, and at the same time it reduces the university’s greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent by optimizing the energy supply to 133 campus buildings.

An unexpected yet practical use of mass timber

Along with contributing to the CEC’s eye-catching appearance, wood’s strength, durability, and sustainable attributes are well-suited to the daily demands of the boiler bays. The primary structure of the boiler process area is a Douglas-fir glue-laminated timber (glulam) post and beam frame, with enclosing walls of seven ply cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels and sloping CLT roof panels. The 20-metre high CLT panels create a unified enclosure around the mechanical equipment, giving the vast space a sense of warmth, unusual in an industrial building.

Wood is a natural choice for UBC

The university has several landmark mass timber buildings on its Vancouver campus, including the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, the Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Centre; the Earth Sciences Building and Brock Commons Tallwood House – a student residence that is among the tallest contemporary wood hybrid structures in the world.

A sustainable building that demonstrates and educates

The facility’s central location allows it to serve both an educational and functional role. Passersby can see through large windows to the bright inside of the mass timber building to watch the innerworkings of the facility. Interpretive signage educates the UBC community about the daily energy production on campus.

Meeting the energy needs of a large campus

The CEC is an integral part of the university’s reduction program with the new high efficiency water heating plant and district hot water distribution loop replacing the pre-existing steam boiler plant constructed in 1925. The gas-fired boilers produce 45 megawatts of thermal energy, enough to meet the university’s current needs with the ability to accommodate future expansion.

 

“This is the second time we have used CLT in an industrial building on the UBC campus—the first being the Bioenergy Research & Demonstration Facility. Based on our positive experience with that project, it was a natural choice for the Campus Energy Centre. We have found CLT to be durable and cost competitive with steel”.

Paul Holt, Director
Energy and Utilities, University of British Columbia

 

Exterior view of John M.S. Lecky UBC Boathouse demonstrating hybrid timber construction used in a contemporary design
UBC Wood Construction Guidelines

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Interior daytime view looking down from walkway into multi-storey atrium of UBC Forest Sciences Centre with intricate umbrella support trusswork of mass timber and glass roof above
UBC mass timber buildings

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Glulam Beams and sustainable design are featured in this four story upward interior atrium view of the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS)
Life Cycle Assessment at UBC

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Exterior evening view of mid rise passive house / high performance Earth Sciences Building on UBC Campus showing a perimeter of Glue-laminated timber (Glulam) columns supporting Cross laminated timber (CLT) soffits
The Earth Systems Science Building, UBC

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