Sustainability Walking Tours

1.  Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS)


The Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) is a hub for sustainability on UBC’s Vancouver campus. The CIRS building is an innovative place that includes sustainability features such as a waste heat recovery system that collects thermal energy from a neighbouring building, a solar hot water system, a geo-exchange system that harvests heat from and to the ground, photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight into electricity, a rainwater purification system, a wastewater treatment system to treat and recycle all the liquid waste generated in the building and other buildings, living systems such as a green roof and a vegetated façade and much more. It demonstrates how a building can be regenerative by improving its environment and the community it serves.

2.  Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility


The Bioenergy Research & Demonstration Facility, is a partnership between UBC and two of the world’s leading developers of green technology – Vancouver-based Nexterra Systems Corporation and GE Energy. The facility is a “Campus as a Living Laboratory” project integrating UBC’s core academic mandate (research and teaching) with the University’s infrastructure and business operations. UBC is committed to taking advantage of its unique capacity for research and problem solving to embrace and deploy leading-edge technology and concepts using the campus infrastructure as a real-world demonstration and testing lab.

The system, fueled by biomass, creates synthesis (syn) gas that is then burned, in raw form, to produce steam or it is conditioned to create ultra clean syn gas that is injected into an internal combustion engine used to generate electricity. The system provides heat and power to The University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus. It facilitates research to develop feedstock (fuel) and process innovations, set new global standards for performance and emissions and lowers the campus’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and fossil fuel consumption.

3.  Biodiesel and Clean Energy Research Tour

The UBC biodiesel project is a student led initiative to produce biodiesel on a pilot scale for use in the campus community.  The goal of the project is to test the production of biodiesel from waste oil.  The long-term goal is to encourage the construction of a larger economically sustainable biodiesel plant.  The tour will consist of a visit to the biodiesel production facility in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Building with a discussion of the production process and the use of biodiesel on campus.

4.  Tour of the AMS Student Nest:  UBC’s New Student Union Building


The aspirations for the New SUB Project with respect to sustainability are extremely high. The thinking that informs the design is long-term with respect to the building’s impact on occupants, users and the environment. The New SUB will be flexible, adaptable, energy efficient, have low water use and be a healthy place in which to work, hang out, study and have a meal.

Anticipated to be a LEED Platinum building, incorporating elements of the Living Building Challenge, the New SUB will be extremely energy efficient. Design strategies place a priority on minimizing consumption. A high performance envelope, natural ventilation and daylight harvesting are amongst the long list of strategies that are integral to this low energy building. Rainwater harvesting will be used as one of the means to reduce water use significantly on the project.

5.  Sustainability Guided Walking Tour

UBC Sustainability Campus Tour is a new initiative organized by the Sustainability Ambassadors of UBC Peer Programs. This tour introduces various student / UBC led initiatives to educate and showcase UBC’s commitment toward sustainability.

There are three main purposes to this project:

  1. To spread awareness of UBC’s sustainability initiatives (especially highlighting student-led achievements)
  2. Promote involvement in sustainability related programs/clubs
  3. Encourage change in daily actions of participants to reduce their ecological footprints

This tour aims to inspire growth in development in sustainability related programs, and spark motivation in green initiatives. We also hope that this tour will help you become more aware of how your daily choices and actions can affect the environment.

6.  Sustainability Walking Tour (Self-Guided)

Many of our ideas for sustainable learning, working and living were conceived – and are reflected – in the buildings on campus.  The walking tour includes stops at seven green buildings, and focuses on the sustainable systems and innovations in each.  Visitors are encouraged to enter the public areas of these buildings during regular office hours, but quietly, since the UBC community is hard at work!

From the sustainability features we incorporate in our buildings to the sustainable information we share through courses and research, we aim to inspire our communities of students, faculty and staff to make sustainability part of their daily lives.

The Sustainability Walking Tour is self-guided.  Please pick up a map from the conference organizers.