Cross collaboration Results in Big Energy Savings at PESC

PESC images

Pacific Environmental Science Centre (PESC) houses The Pacific Yukon Laboratory for Environmental Testing and has specialized laboratory facilities providing chemical, biological, toxicological and toxicogenomic analysis in support of many departmental programs at Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). 


"Prism Engineering brought their diverse expertise to the unique PESC facility and really helped us address our energy efficiency goals. From feasibility studies to design to implementation, they provided diligent support to ensure project success. Other facilities within the ECCC have seen our progress and have been inspired to replicate our strategies.”

- Nikolas Fehr, Project Engineer at ECCC



Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) connected with Prism Engineering in search of solutions that would reduce energy consumption at the Pacific Environmental Science Centre (PESC) building in North Vancouver.

PESC houses The Pacific Yukon Laboratory for Environmental Testing and has specialized laboratory facilities providing chemical, biological, toxicological and toxicogenomic analysis in support of many departmental programs at ECCC. The lab equipment required to do their work is very energy intensive, specifically the Constant Air Volume fume hoods used to exhaust air while the lab equipment is operating.


With the goal of improving energy efficiency in mind, ECCC partnered with Prism to conduct various studies to identify strategic ways for PESC to reduce their environmental footprint.

With over 20 years of diverse industry experience, Prism was able to leverage expertise from across the organization to provide the analysis, design and project support needed to upgrade their mechanical systems and building controls as well as motivate behavioural change. 

Energy Study & Heating Plant Review     2014 - Prism conducted an energy study to investigate various options for upgrading the ventilation system including the fume hoods within the facility.
2016 - Prism conducted a heating plant review to identify opportunities to improve hydronic and domestic heating plants and system efficiency. 



Mechanical Upgrades


Work began on the numerous mechanical recommendations from the 2014 and 2016 reports. They included:

  • The replacement of hydronic heating boilers with dual return condensing boilers,
  • Upgrading the domestic hot water heating plant with new condensing water heaters
  • Hydronic system upgrades for optimizing efficiency (with dual return condensing and variable speed pumping)
  • An automated controls strategy: demand-based controls for lab equipment, zone isolation, common spaces return air, unoccupied temperature setback and optimum start

These were all fully implemented by March 2018.




As part of the concept design for the mechanical implementation, a lab user engagement strategy was recommended when Prism’s engineers saw the potential savings from changes in user behaviour.  The Sustainability Engagement team at Prism was brought on board and launched a campaign in collaboration with the ECCC staff to educate operators on how to use the fume hood more efficiently to achieve energy savings.  


Chiller System Upgrade


2019 – Prism was approached again to upgrade the chiller system and to identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. Based on the options identified, ECCC plans to implement an air sourced heat pump system to provide cooling through the summer and operate in heating mode in the winter. This will further offset heating and gas requirements for the facility.  Detailed design has been completed and the new system is expected to be operational by June 2020.


Natural Gas Savings

Combined project savings of 33% in natural gas was observed in the 2018/2019 year compared to the baseline. An additional 46% in savings is projected for the 2020/2021 year.

The extraordinary energy savings observed at PESC is attributed to not just the capital upgrades made to the building but also the control automation strategy that was implemented as well as the change in user behaviour. The staff were introduced to new operating procedures and educated on the impact they can make for energy conservation through strategic communications including posters and prompts. Once staff understood their role and the impact they could have through simple behaviour changes, there was a near universal adoption of the new fume hood procedures.   

PESC has recently been recognized by FortisBC with 2019 Efficiency in Action Award. They received the “Public Sector – Federal” award for achieving carbon-neutral status by upgrading to high-efficiency natural gas equipment and reinvesting the savings into additional efficiency projects and FortisBC Renewable Natural Gas.