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Sam Dahabieh

Natural Resources Canada salutes SFU

March 22, 2007

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To Sam Dahabieh (above) and all of SFU's facilities management team, a recent award for energy conservation from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is like a pat on the back from Mother Nature herself.

"A lot of our initiatives go unnoticed by the larger community, but we've been taking action on issues of sustainability and energy conservation since 1983—long before it was fashionable," says Dahabieh.

"We see it as our duty and responsibility. We are always looking for ways to fine-tune our electromechanical systems to save energy and optimize utility usage on campus."

The NRCan Energy Conservation inExisting Buildings award recognizes SFU's significant energy savings between 2002 and 2006.

Dahabieh estimates that strategic conservation of energy in the university's heating and electrical systems during that period resulted in average annual savings of more than $150,000.

And that's just the tip of the savings iceberg.

  • Dahabieh points to numerous other sustainability initiatives over the past two decades, including:
  • The capture and recirculation of water used to cool the university's compressed air systems.
  • Changes to building controls and automation. 
  • The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at the boiler plant.

Altogether, they have resulted in a combined energy-cost avoidance of more than $25 million, he says. "In fact, we've been so aggressive with our green efforts that it's getting to be a big challenge to find new ways to conserve."

But that doesn't mean they're about to stop trying. Next up for facilities management is an audit to ensure that proper lighting levels are maintained on campus, and that new building projects comply with the university's sustainability and energy conservation objectives.

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