Time to LEED

It can be easy to be skeptical of third-party rating systems. After years of being part of the Maclean’s university ranking system and similar exercises, I tend to feel that local character can lose out when we rush to compare apples with apples.

One rating system that seems to be succeeding (at least to an outsider like me) is the LEED certification program for buildings. LEED (which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) has been around for more than a decade in Canada and has gained international credibility. It tracks things like water usage and energy conservation as well as the actual practices used in construction to give buildings a score. UNBC announced on Wednesday that its Bioenergy Plant has received the top mark possible – platinum – making it the first building in northern BC and the first of any university building in BC to earn that mark of achievement. LEED Platinum was the top grade UNBC could have achieved. It’s like getting an A+.

UNBC President Iwama announces LEED Platinum certification for the Bioenergy Plant

It’s more recognition for the Bioenergy Plant, which has attracted more awards now than any other single UNBC initiative. Beyond the details of the LEED certification (which requires architects, builders, engineers, and building owners to track many details related to design, construction, and operation), the platinum certification serves as another reminder that what we’re doing in northern BC around bioenergy is a real achievement. And there’s no need to stop now.

Coincidentally, on the same day as the UNBC announcement, the Vancouver Sun published an article about new analysis from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (which is based at UVic and has other universities – including UNBC – as partners) that calls wood biomass “an untapped resource.” The PICS study essentially says that many rural and off-grid communities could operate hermes belts replica local heating/energy systems with wood that is harvested as part of local fire abatement measures; let alone the residuals from the manufacture of wood products. To quote the Sun: “Biomass that is routinely collected and burned in the name hermes h belts of forest hermes belt size chart men
hermes belts management around BC’s small and remote towns could generate clean energy…and replace 30-50% of the fossil fuels used in BC.”

This latest evidence – and UNBC’s latest award – came on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech. It would seem that many rural communities, researchers, and citizens also have a dream in 2013: to realize the value of their adjacent resources to provide energy to their communities, create and sustain jobs, and gain independence from diesel-powered generators. It’s time to do it.


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About Rob van Adrichem

Rob van Adrichem is a UNBC grad and the University’s Vice-President for External Relations. He was born and raised in Prince George and has been an employee of UNBC since 1992. He was appointed by former Premier Gordon Campbell to a provincial council on climate action and has been a champion of UNBC’s efforts to be a model for sustainability. He is married with two young children.