Sam Dahabieh

SFU earns Go Green status

January 24, 2008

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By: Diane Luckow

SFU’s decades-long commitment to energy management and conservation is paying off — in international recognition as well as cost savings.                                     

The university recently became North America’s first post-secondary institution to achieve Go Green certification from the international Building and Owner Managers Association (BOMA) for the 26 main buildings at its Burnaby campus. The campus meets all of BOMA’s criteria for environmental best practices including:
  • energy and water use
  • construction waste and recycling
  • hazardous materials, material selection and ozone-depleting substances
  • indoor air quality and HVAC maintenance
  • a sustainability/communication program for building occupants

Facilities services director Sam Dahabieh says the certification acknowledges the significant energy conservation measures SFU has been implementing at the Burnaby campus over the past 20 years.

In the mid ’80s the university began installing automated building-control systems that optimize heating and cooling cycles to correspond with building use; they also switch off lighting at specific times. Carbon dioxide sensors installed in many of the buildings monitor air quality.

More recently, the campus completed a two-year retrofit to improve the energy efficiency of its lighting system, switching to lower wattage fluorescent ballasts and changing incandescent pot lamps to compact fluorescent lamps.

Over-all, these and other initiatives save enough electricity to supply annual light and energy for 1,069 homes. Annual natural gas savings are equivalent to heating 285 homes. Greenhouse gas emission avoidance totals 1,709 tonnes per year — the equivalent of removing 342 cars from the road each year.

A long-established recycling program annually recycles:
  • 232 tonnes of cardboard and mixed paper
  • 25 tonnes of wood
  • 200,000 units of plastic and glass
  • 36 wrapped pallets per year of electronics
  • as well as metal, batteries, food containers, fluorescent tubes and chemicals such as oil, glycol and solvents.

Dahabieh says the recycling program will soon expand to include soft plastics, styrofoam and organic materials.

As well, SFU’s recent construction projects are all built according to the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green-building silver rating. That requires contractors, for example, to use waste-reduction practices that divert 75 per cent of total project waste from the landfill. “Everything is recycled,” says Dahabieh.

And despite the addition of five major new buildings on campus, Dahabieh says the university hopes to reduce energy consumption by a further 10 per cent over the next five years.
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