VCC achieves two million dollars in energy cost avoidance

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Vancouver Community College (VCC) is the oldest community college in British Columbia. With over 140 certificate and diploma programs, it is also the largest public community college, serving over 26,000 students each year at their three campuses: Broadway, Downtown and Annacis Island.

Prism has been supporting VCC to identify and implement energy savings across the institution for nearly a decade. Project planning is an important component of VCC's continued energy management success, which includes quarterly meetings with the facilities and senior administrator teams to review energy use and reduction and cost allocation for proposed projects. Prism reviews utility, emissions and cost savings for previously implemented projects, as well as payback periods to help VCC track project success and identify additional areas of improvement. 

Over the last nine years, VCC has proudly exceeded two million dollars in total energy cost avoidance. While VCC had set the goal of reaching 25% below 2010 levels by 2020, they have already well exceeded this goal with a 40% reduction in energy intensity. These figures represent actual energy savings of 36,284,000 ekWh, which is equivalent to energy consumption of 1,650 households in British Columbia for an entire year. VCC has also cut greenhouse gas emissions from both Broadway and Downtown campuses by nearly half since 2010.

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Prism has also helped contextualize VCC's energy usage on an annual basis through an annual benchmarking study, comparing VCC's Downtown and Broadway campuses with other BC Institutions within the sector. In 2013, VCC’s Downtown campus ranked 14th out of 16 campuses in the BEPI study, and the Broadway campus ranked 7th. In 2018, both VCC campuses ranked in the top five, and both campuses had energy intensity rates below the median level of all campuses in the study. Download the 2018 Benchmarking Report for Post-Secondary Institutions.

Reducing carbon footprint through innovative practices

As part of their overall Strategic Plan, VCC committed to seeking innovative and improved practices that reduce their carbon footprint. VCC has since undertaken significant projects to change the way energy is used on campuses.

Major upgrades undertaken include LED lighting installation for exterior and parking lights, adding occupancy sensors and digital controls to campus classrooms, and implementing energy saving measures from continuous optimization programs for heating and cooling systems. These projects have, in part, helped keep VCC’s campuses well below median in terms of energy intensity when compared with similar post-secondary institutions in BC. Going forward, projects being reviewed include electrification (kitchen equipment, ventilation and domestic hot water heating systems), demand control ventilation, and photo-voltaic system installation.

Creating a culture of energy conservation

VCC has also worked to integrate energy conservation and sustainability into the culture on campus. VCC is part of BC Hydro and FortisBC’s Energy Wise Network program, which consists of both public and private sector organizations committed to saving energy through behaviour change and engagement.

Over the years, VCC’s energy team has collaborated with IT staff to update computer settings to switch to energy saving modes while the user is away. VCC’s “Take the Stairs” campaign encouraged people on campus to skip the elevator, thereby saving energy and staying active. In early 2018, VCC’s Facilities Management Team launched an Energy Saving Ideas Competition inviting staff to submit their ideas for saving energy on their campuses.

A greener future

Today, with the achievement of over two million dollars of energy cost avoidance and with the college handily meeting energy reduction targets ahead of schedule, VCC is proud to be making progress towards a greener future.

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