University of British Columbia Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility

Type of Building
Commercial & Industrial
2,277 sq. m.
McFarland Marceau Architects Ltd.
Structural Engineer
Equilibrium Consulting Inc.
Construction Manager
Ledcor Group
Project Owner
University of British Columbia
Cross-laminated timber (CLT), Glue-laminated timber (glulam)

What was truly unique about this project was the presence of wood in three-fold: from the construction of the building, to the project’s location on the campus in a relatively dense area of trees, to the utilization of wood as fuel for the gasification unit – wood remains omnipresent.

Larry McFarland, Principal, McFarland Marceau Architects Vancouver

Project Overview

The Bioenergy Research & Demonstration Facility (BRDF) was built in response to UBC’s need to generate sufficient heat and power to meet the campus’ growing energy demand through an affordable alternative fuel source that would also reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions. The plant converts wood chips into a synthesis gas for heating, and electricity generation through an internal combustion engine that powers a generator.

The facility is part of the Campus as a Living Lab initiative that combines operational infrastructure, research and educational opportunities related to sustainability, in this case, bioenergy. BRDF is certified LEED® Gold, UBC’s targeted requirement for all new buildings on the academic campus. The facility reflects wood in multiple states: sited within a dense area of trees, built from wood products, and generating energy from wood waste.


Wood Use

The industrial purpose of the BRDF drove the selection and design of the structural system, materials, and connections. The exposed structure of engineered wood is a combination of Douglas-fir glue-laminated timber (glulam) columns and beams that function as composite assemblies with SPF cross-laminated timber (CLT) walls, floors, and roof decking all supported on a concrete foundation. The CLT panels create a beautiful natural wood interior surface that required no additional finishes.