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UBC Reports Nov 30, 2011

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a place of mind
November 2011
Centre for Interactive Research       UBC's carbon
The Sustainability Edition on Sustainability
neutral roadmap
in the Okanagan
«•       _~L
opens at UBC 3
"This is a place
for big ideas
with global impacts."
John Robinson
I     I   l-V   ^"»       ^"» I • I
Initiative Daniel Pauly, a professor
at UBC's Fisheries Centre
is among many university
researchers working
in the field of sustainability.
UBC opens North America's
most sustainable building
Living laboratory will advance sustainability research and innovation
Basil Waugh
In the news
volume fifty seven : number eleven
lucie mcneill lucie.mcneill@ubcca
Associate Director
randy schmidt randy.schmidt@ubcca
November Issue Editor
basil waugh  basil.waugh@ubc.ca
Design Manager
arlene cotter arlene.cotter@ubcca
Public Affairs Studio
ping ki chan  ping.chan@ubcca
amanda fetterly amanda.fetterly@ubcca
martin dee  martin.dee@ubcca
Web Designer
linakang  lina.kang@ubcca
Communications Coordinators
heather amos heather.amos@ubcca
Lorraine chan  lorraine.chan@ubcca
erinrose handy erinrose.handy@ubcca
brian lin  brian.Iin@ubcca
brian kladko brian.kladko@ubcca
basil waugh  basil.waugh@ubc.ca
pearlie davison  pearlie.davison@ubc.ca
lou bosshart lou.bosshart@ubcca
UBC Reports is published monthly by:
The University of British Columbia
Public Affairs Office
310-6251 Cecil Green Park Road
Vancouver BC Canada V6T1Z1
Next issue: 2 December 2011
UBC Reports welcomes submissions.
For upcoming UBC Reports submission guidelines:
Opinions and advertising published in UBC Reports
do not necessarily reflect official university policy.
Material may be reprinted in whole or in part with
appropriate credit to UBC Reports. Letters (300 words
or less) must be signed and include an address and
phone number for verification.
Submit letters to:
The Editor, UBC Reports
E-mail to publicaffairs@ubcca
Mail to UBC Public Affairs Office (address above)
Visit our online UBC News Room for the latest updates
on research and learning. On this site you'll find our
news releases, advisories, news extras, as well as a daily
media summary and a real-time UBCNEWS twitter
feed. You can also find resources including access to
more than 500 faculty experts and information about
UBC's radio and TV studios.
Website: www.ubcca/news
Tel: 604.822.NEWS (6397)
E-mail: public.affairs@ubcca
Twitter: @ubcnews
Publication mail agreement no. 40775044.
Return undeliverable C ;es to circulation department.
310-6251 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T1Z1
Highlights of UBC's work on sustainability—
environmental, social, financial—in the media
Heather Amos
Scientists call for end
to deep-sea fishing
A September Washington Post article
reported on a study that says industrial
fishing in the deep sea should be banned
because it has depleted fish stocks that
take longer to recover than other
Daniel Pauly, who serves as principal
investigator ofthe Sea Around Us Project
at UBC Fisheries Centre, said the costs
of deep-sea fishing far outweigh the
benefits. "It's a waste of resources, it's
a waste of biodiversity, it's a waste of
Rashid Sumaila, one ofthe authors of
the study and the director UBC
Fisheries Centre, says fishing subsidies
help sustain deep-sea fishing. He said
high-seas trawlers around the world
receive roughly $162 million each year
in government handouts, which
amounts to a quarter ofthe value ofthe
fleets' catch.
Decline of big fish upsets
ocean balance
A UBC study found that populations of
predator fish have suffered huge declines
over the past century, but that the total
stock of "forage fish" has more than
doubled, reported a February article in
The Guardian.
"By removing the large, predatory
species from the ocean, small forage fish
have been left to thrive," said Villy
Christensen, lead author of he study and
a professor in UBC Fisheries Centre.
Population explosion
scrutinized as scientists urge
politicians to act
The population ofthe planet could reach
9.2 billion by 2050, and The Independent
wrote a July 2010 article about a group of
researchers who are trying to identify the
future problems we could face.
The "ecological footprint" is one
measure ofthe environmental impact of
human populations. It was developed
more than 15 years ago by Mathis
Wackernagel and William Rees,
a professor in the School of Community
and Regional Planning at UBC, and is a
measure ofthe demand placed on the
biosphere by human activity.
The science is in:
Insite saves lives
After a lengthy court battle, Canada's
Supreme Court ruled that Insite, the
supervised-injection facility in
Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, should
stay open. Throughout the court battle,
UBC researchers provided expert
opinion and wrote op/eds for the
Washington Post, the National Post,
the Canadian Press, the Toronto Star
and others.
Dr. Thomas Kerr, ofthe Faculty of
Medicine, said there have been about
1,500 overdoses at Insite but that nobody
has died. "This is without a doubt a
facility that saves lives."
Dr. Julio Montaner, the director of the
BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
and a professor of medicine at UBC,
said that the Supreme Court decision
on Insite shows that it is time to "allow
evidence-based interventions to be the
foundation of our response to health
and social harms stemming from drug
Olympics go carbon neutral
The Vancouver Organizing
Committee asked Sauder School
of Business professor James Tansey
to develop a plan to offset the 2010
Winter Games' carbon emissions.
He and his team of MBA students
achieved success— a 15 per cent
reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,
reported the Globe and Mail.
Clean fuels wasted
on Delhi's rickshaws
UBC researchers say a New Delhi
program to switch its 5,000 auto-
rickshaws with two-stroke engines to
clean fuel has not significantly improved
emission levels and the switch resulted
in an increase in other emissions that
negatively impact climate change,
reported United Press International
in March.
"Our study demonstrates the
importance of engine type when
adopting clean fuels," said Conor
Reynolds, lead author ofthe study
and post-doctoral fellow at the Liu
Institute for Global Issues.
Researchers will study how users interact with CIRS to improve building performance, inhabitants' health and global building practices.
V      a place of mind
Public Affairs
The University of British Columbia has
opened the "greenest" building in North
America, a $37-million laboratory that
will help to regenerate the environment
and advance research and innovation on
global sustainability challenges.
The Centre for Interactive Research
on Sustainability (CIRS) is one of only a
handful of buildings worldwide designed
to provide "net positive" benefits to
the environment. It will remove carbon
from the atmosphere, power itself and
other Vancouver campus buildings with
renewable and waste energy, and supply
water for inhabitants with rainwater
treated onsite.
As a research centre, CIRS will
investigate green building design and
operation, community engagement and
sustainable policies. Researchers will
study users' interactions with the facility
to improve building performance,
maximize inhabitants' happiness,
health and productivity and advance
best green building practices at UBC
and abroad.
"CIRS is a place for big ideas that have
global impacts," says UBC Prof. John
Robinson, Executive Director ofthe
UBC Sustainability Initiative and a
co-author ofthe Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change report that
shared the Nobel Prize with AI Gore in
2007. "It will serve as a living laboratory
to test, learn, teach, apply and share
the outcomes of sustainability focused
Built to meet or exceed LEED
Platinum and Living Building Challenge
standards, CIRS is constructed
primarily of certified wood and
beetle-killed B.C. lumber. By nature of
its wood construction, the four-storey,
60,000 square-foot facility effectively
removes 500 tonnes of carbon from
the environment—locking it into the
building's structure—and eliminates
GHG emissions that would have
resulted from concrete, steel or other
non-renewable materials.
Building features include:
the BC Hydro Theatre, which has
advanced visualization and interaction
technologies to engage audiences in
sustainability and climate change
scenarios, the 450-seat Modern Green
Development Auditorium, indoor
environmental quality and building
simulation software labs, a building
management system that shares
building performance in real-time with
inhabitants and visitors, and the Loop
cafe, which uses no disposable packaging.
The facility is a major part of UBC's
transformation into a living laboratory
for sustainability, where researchers,
operations staff and industry partners
collaborate. A key goal is to achieve
the most aggressive carbon-reduction
targets at a major research university:
a 100 percent reduction in UBC's
Vancouver campus GHG emissions by
According to Robinson, CIRS will
help to bring sustainability innovations
developed at UBC to the global
marketplace through partnerships
with industry. Partners include:
Honeywell (energy systems), Hayworth
(adaptable workspaces), BC Hydro
(electricity systems) and Modern Green
Development, China's largest green real
estate developer.
While the facility cost 26 per cent
more to construct than an equivalent
UBC building, Robinson says the
university expects to recoup these
up-front costs in 20 years through
reduced maintenance, operation and
energy costs—and provide significant
cost savings, beyond the environmental
benefits, over its lifetime. •
For more information visit:
Turn the page for more CIRS images,
features and projects.
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   November 2011 Take
a peak
features make
the Centre for
Interactive Research
on Sustainability
'net positive' on
energy, carbon
and water.
Energy Efficiency*
By capturing waste heat from the Earth,
the sun and the nearby Earth and Ocean
Sciences (EOS) building, CIRS heats itself
and returns 600 megawatt hours of
surplus energy back to campus.
Sans Fossil Fuels
While CIRS is carbon neutral (building
systems require no fossil fuels), the
surplus energy CIRS returns to EOS
removes an additional 150 tonnes of
GHG emissions annually through reduced
natural gas use.
Beetle-killed wood structure
One of the few commercial buildings
with a primarily wood structure, CIRS
locks in more than 500 tonnes of carbon,
eliminating GHG emissions that would
have resulted from non-renewable
construction materials or unused beetle-
killed lumber, which is currently B.C.'s
largest source of carbon emissions.
Rain Water Harvesting
CIRS will satisfy the water needs of 200
inhabitants, plus hundreds of auditorium
and cafe users by capturing rain and
treating it onsite. Excess water will
recharge the local aquifer.
Superior Work Environment
CIRS' U-shape design maximizes the
amount of natural daylight and fresh
air for inhabitants, who control their
environment through their computers.
And thanks to flexible design-
there are no light switches or wiring
through walls—workspaces can be
completely reconfigured overnight.
Green IT
CIRS has no servers and desktop
computers guzzling energy. Instead,
everything is stored "in the cloud"—
drives, desktops and servers are
part of a green information technology
pilot project with UBC IT.
Mind Matters
Researchers, including members of the
Dept. of Psychology, will use CIRS to
study how best to encourage people to
adopt sustainability in their lives.
Stephen Sheppard works with communities to plan for a future with climate change and lower-carbon footprints.
Window to the future
A theatre in the new CIRS allows users to experience future scenarios
Heather Amos
Earth-friendly Eats
CIRS' Loop Cafe has no disposable
packaging onsite, and serves local,
organic choices.
For some, seeing is believing and the
BC Hydro Theatre in UBC's new Centre
for Interactive Research on Sustainability
is like a crystal ball, giving communities
a look into their future.
"We're giving people an opportunity
to walk into an alternate future," says
Stephen Sheppard, the researcher
leading the design phase ofthe theatre
and a professor in the Faculties of
Forestry and Applied Science. "They
will be immersed in an environment
that looks and feels like an actual place
in 2050."
Sheppard's research group, the
Collaborative for Advanced Landscape
Planning (CALP), will use the BC Hydro
Theatre to model and visualize future
sustainability, including how climate
change will transform the way cities and
rural communities look. Working with
scientists and local experts, CALP helps
community planners and politicians
plan for a future with climate change
and lower-carbon footprints.
"They can see possible consequences
of their community's decisions and
lifestyles," says Sheppard.
The theatre, also known as the
Decision Theatre, is a large space
equipped with the newest imaging
technologies that allow people to
project five-metre images on two walls,
immerse themselves in visualizations on a wrap-around screen, use
touch-screen tables and videoconference. Users are also able to work off
iPads or computers to change the
content displayed on the walls and
collaborate in real-time.
The new Decision Theatre is a bigger
version ofthe experimental Landscape
Immersion Lab that Sheppard and his
students developed at UBC for research
on 3D visualization, environmental
perception, and decision-making.
Previously, Sheppard has presented
different adaptation options for sea
level rise in Delta, where modeling has
shown that rising sea levels are likely
to cause flooding unless major and
expensive measures are undertaken
The research group has also worked
with communities in the Kootenays,
and is collaborating on land-use
planning research with Canadian cities,
like Toronto and Calgary.
Recently CALP has been working
with Clyde River in Nunavut, a remote
Canadian community on Baffin Island
in the Arctic.
"With remote communities like Clyde
River, CALP will use the Decision
Theatre to give stakeholders and
local experts the chance to virtually
engage with UBC expertise, databases,
resources and experiences, saving travel
costs and carbon."
With nothing fixed to the floors
or ceiling, the space can easily be
transformed for different purposes and
is intended to be a communal space.
The theatre will be used for interactive
presentations, perception research,
conference workshops, art installations
and collaborative planning sessions.
"We want the space to be used equally
by UBC researchers, practitioners, and
community groups," says Jon Salter, a
PhD student in Sheppard's lab who has
been managing the design and installation ofthe Theatre.
The BC Hydro Theatre will be open
to researchers across campus, partners
like BC Hydro, and the public. For local
communities, the theatre will serve as a
hub for sustainability research, training
practitioners on visioning methods,
and engaging the public in dialogue
on issues such as district energy and
behaviour change. •
To learn more, visit:
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   November 2011 a place of mind
At the direction of Dr. David Farrar, UBC Provost and Vice President
Academic, a review of the UBC Faculty of Graduate Studies will be
carried out by Dr. Karen P. DePauw, Vice President and Dean for
Graduate Education, Virginia Tech; Dr. Fred L. Hall, former Vice-
Provost (Graduate Education) and Dean of Graduate Studies,
University of Calgary; and Dr. Carolyn Watters, Vice President
Academic and Provost, Dalhousie University.
The review will assess the academic and administrative strengths of
the Faculty, the balance among its various functions, and the Faculty's
stature. The reviewers will also consider the Faculty's leadership and
management, its effectiveness in the use of resources and facilities, and
its future development.
The reviewers will be on the Vancouver campus on November 16,17,
and 18. All members of the UBC community are invited to send the
reviewers their comments in writing, to either Dr. Herbert Rosengarten,
Review Coordinator (hjr@exchange.ubc.ca) or Ms. Stephanie Milliken
CStephanie@millikenhr.com ). The deadline for sending comments is
November 10,2011. All submissions should be clearly signed; those
sent to Ms. Milliken will be forwarded to the panel in a synthesized
form with no names attached.
For a fuller description of the review's Terms of Reference, please go to
the Provost's web-site: www.vpacademicubc.ca
a place of mind
Large Format
Poster Printing
Next Day Service*
*extra day for lamination
rroup ■ ■
The University of British Columbia
The Media Group
Drop off your file in person
Email slides@interchange.ubc.ca
Upload www.mediagroup.ubc.ca/
Questions? Call 604 822 5769
Woodward IRC Building - Lower Level
Room B32,2194 Health Sciences Mall
Located north of UBC Hospital
IUBCI      a place of mind
UBC Remembers
The University of British Columbia held its first
Remembrance Day Ceremony in the War Memorial
Gym in 1951. 60 years later UBC is honoured to
help commemorate those men and women who
have given their lives for the freedom of others.
For more information please visit
Remembrance Day Ceremony
November 11th 2011110:45 a.m.
UBC War Memorial Gym
a greener future
UBC Master of Clean Energy Engineering
students learn in UBC neighborhoods
ErinRose Handy
Build it and
they will stay
Kera McArthur and Basil Waugh
The signs of a growing residential community on UBC's
Vancouver campus are everywhere, but numbers speak even
louder to the sustainability aspirations of UTown a UBC.
Inspired by iconic college towns such as Cambridge and
Harvard, UBC is transforming from a commuter campus to
a complete sustainable community, where shops, services,
parks and public transportation are all within walking distance.
A wildly successful universal transit pass, new housing for
students, faculty and staff, and increased financial support are
all part of a plan to make UTown a UBC a vibrant community
to learn, work and live.
With more than 9,000 students living on the Vancouver campus,
UBC has more student housing on one campus than any
university in Canada.
Currently 29 per cent of undergraduates and 22 per cent of
graduate students live on campus.
More than 50 per cent of campus households include someone
who works or studies at UBC. Of the nearly 3,100 units built
since 1991, 20 per cent are rentals and 10 per cent are offered
at non-market rates.
Automobile traffic coming to and from campus has decreased
by 15 per cent since 1997 despite a 42 per cent growth in
daytime population.
Thanks largely to the U-Pass, transit trips have more than
tripled during this period, from 19,000 to 63,000 trips per day.
Student Mike Hoy is helping homeowners reduce their energy consumption
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Graduate engineering students on UBC's
Vancouver campus are contributing
to a greener future through energy
assessments in UBC University
Neighbourhoods Association (UNA)
developments. Their projects are
demonstrating clean energy solutions
that could potentially be used by other
communities on campus and beyond.
Student Mike Hoy is helping
homeowners in the Hawthorn
Neighborhood (located south of
Thunderbird Blvd. on Main Mall)
interested in implementing alternative
energy systems and energy efficiency
upgrades to reduce consumption and
greenhouse gases (GHGs).
For the project, Hoy is monitoring
energy data, performing an audit and
researching efficiency improvements
and sustainable solutions, including
solar and geothermal for 20 units in the
complex. He will also survey 10
homeowners and align their
preferences with results from his
technical analysis.
"Buildings are responsible for 30 per
cent of GHG emissions in North America,
so it is important to make them more
energy efficient," says Hoy, 31. "UBC
provides a unique environment that
enables us to learn from real data and
positively influence a real community."
Senthil Rushya, another student in
the program, is studying residential
buildings in the Sitka development that
is going up on the corner of Agronomy
Rd. and Wesbrook Mall, slated to be
completed by fall 2012. He is assessing
the environmental and economic
aspects of installing a heat recovery
system of grey water from dishwashers,
laundry and household sinks. Since any
hot water that goes down the drain
carries energy away with it, capturing
this energy and recycling it to preheat
cold water will reduce energy
"We strive to help students work on
real-world energy problems for their
master's projects," says Eric Mazzi,
Power Smart® Instructor with UBC's
Master of Clean Energy Engineering
program. "UBC's living laboratory
provides our students with valuable
learning that they carry forward to their
future jobs."
Launched at UBC in 2009, the
Masters of Engineering in Clean Energy
Engineering is intended for those with
an undergraduate degree in engineering
with interest in advanced training in
energy efficient technologies and
policies. It graduated its first class of 24
students in May 2011 and as many as 90
per cent are now employed in
energy-related positions, Mazzi says.
"It is our goal to inspire innovation in
our students so they can take that
knowledge forward and effect positive
change," Mazzi adds.
"The UNA is fortunate to have access
to the talent ofthe Clean Energy
Engineering students," says Ralph Wells,
UNA Sustainability Manager. "This is a
win for the community and the students,
and we hope these are the first of many
projects to come." •
For more information visit:
Financial Support
$300 million
Family homes on campus have contributed over $300 million
to UBC's Endowment Fund—approximately a third of its total
value—which finances scholarships, bursaries, professorships
and research.
UBC's Student Housing Financing Endowment will direct a large
portion of land lease proceeds from creating residential communities
on the Vancouver campus toward student housing projects.
For more information, visit:
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   November 2011 UBC
a place of mind
UBC Killam Teaching Prizes
Once again the University is recognizing excellence in teaching
through the awarding of prizes to faculty members. Up to six (6)
prize winners will be selected in the Faculty of Arts for 2012.
Eligibility is open to faculty who have three or more years of
teaching at UBC. The three years include 2011 - 2012.
The awards will recognize distinguished teaching at all levels;
introductory, advanced, graduate courses, graduate supervision,
and any combination of levels.
Members of faculty, students, or alumni may suggest candidates
to the Head of the Department, the Director of the School, or Chair
of the Program in which the nominee teaches. These suggestions
should be in writing and signed by one or more students, alumni or
faculty, and they should include a very brief statement of the basis
for the nomination. You may write a letter of nomination or pick up
a form from the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Arts in Buchanan A240.
4:00 p.m. on January 13, 2012. Submit nominations to the
Department, School or Program Office in which the nominee teaches.
Winners will be announced mid-April, and they will be identified
during Spring convocation in May.
For further information about these awards contact your Department,
School or Program office, or Judy Barry in the Dean of Arts Office,
(604) 822-9062.
UBC's roadmap to zero emissions
a place of mind
av system design & integration
digital signage
presentation webcast & capture
av equipment rentals & repair
audio-visual services
av supplies & equipment sales
creative services
video & media production
medical illustration/animation
graphic design
large-format printing
UBC—essentially, a city of 70,000 people—is taking steps to completely eliminate institutional greenhouse gases in Vancouver by 2050.
While dramatic emission reductions are not new at UBC—the university was Canada's first to meet the Kyoto Protocol targets in its
academic buildings—achieving carbon neutrality has inspired the university to re-envision itself as a living laboratory for sustainability.
announced in
2010, are the
most aggressive
of any university
ranked in the
global top-40.
UBC is on track to meet or exceed
its targeted 2015 reduction of
33 per cent as a result of three
flagship projects valued at more
than $116-million-dollars.
Hot Water District Energy System
An new $85-million, 14-km hot water district energy system,
to be completed by 2015, will slash carbon emissions by 22 per cent
(11,000 tonnes), akin to removing 2,000 cars from the road.
Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Project
When completed in 2012, this pioneering $27-million bioenergy
project—it runs on wood chips—will eliminate up to nine per cent
(4,500 tonnes) of campus emissions, akin to removing 1,100 cars off
the road, while generating enough electricity to power 1,500 homes.
Continuous Optimization
By improving operations, maintenance and energy monitoring
in 72 core academic buildings, this $4-million program is expected
to reduce carbon emissions by 10 per cent by 2015.
While still in the planning stage,
these projects are expected
to help UBC meet or exceed
its 2020 target of a 67 per cent
GHG reduction.
Heat Recovery
UBC is exploring opportunities to recover waste heat from
TRIUMF, the national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics
at UBC. If it proves viable, it would provide a major new source
of energy and as much as 23 per cent in emission reductions.
Projected cost and completion: $16 million, 2016-2018.
Smart Energy System
UBC plans to develop one ofthe first community integrated
energy management systems. Improving energy monitoring and
management across the university's more than 400 academic and
residential buildings while integrating new clean energy sources
will help UBC achieve carbon and energy goals and identify new
opportunities. Projected completion: 2015.
BC Hydro Self-Sufficiency
BC Hydro's goal to provide carbon-neutral electricity by
2016 will result in a 6.5 per cent GHG reduction for UBC.
With 70 per cent of GHG reductions
planned by 2020, the remaining
steps to become carbon neutral
will include:
Alternative Energy Projects
UBC is exploring new sources of energy for campus, including
ocean thermal energy, sewer waste heat recovery, plus advances in
geothermal, bioenergy, solar thermal and photovoltaic, wind, and
energy storage. Successful projects will reduce carbon emissions and
the reliance on natural gas and electricity.
Greener Buildings
Currently all new UBC buildings must meet or exceed LEED Gold and
use 42 per cent less energy than national standards. Future buildings
will aim to be carbon neutral or "net positive," like UBC's Centre for
Interactive Research on Sustainability, which removes 150 tonnes of
carbon from the environment annually.
Clean Transportation
By expanding the U-Pass transit system to staff and faculty and
switching its 300-vehicle fleet to electricity or other types of clean
energy, UBC hopes to achieve further reductions in greenhouse gases.
"As far as we know, no one is integrating
research and operations on sustainability
as deeply as we are at UBC.
As owner-operator of the campus,
we have the ability to develop, test
and demonstrate advances right here,
and serve as a sustainable model for
other communities."
John Metras, Director of UBC Building Operations
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   November 2011 West Coast Suites
Deluxe Hotel Suites, West Coast Style
Contemporary, beautifully appointed, limited service deluxe hotel
suite for visitors and business travelers to Vancouver.
• Centrally located on campus
• Fully-equipped kitchen and complimentary wireless internet
• Ideal for short or long term stays
• Available year round
Conferences &
T604 822 1000
E reservations@housing.ubc.ca
Bistro & Catering
Fresh I Local I Sustainable
Monckn/to Friday
11:30am - 2:00pm
at the University Centre
Reservations: 604-822-0^68
6yy\ Crescent Road, Vancouver
Your Conference
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Hosting a conference at UBC? We can make it easy.
We offer full management and registration services and have experienced
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With UBC's unique venues and state-of-the-art facilities, your meeting
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Turning global problems into solutions
Harnessing sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into cleaner   fuels
Lorraine Chan and ErinRose Handy
Nature makes it look so easy. Using
sunlight, flowers and trees convert
carbon dioxide and water into useful
sugars and oxygen.
At UBC's Clean Energy Research
Centre (CERC) in Vancouver, Director
David Wilkinson is exploring how to
convert carbon dioxide (C02) into fuels.
CERC is an interdisciplinary facility
dedicated to improving existing energy
technologies and developing new
sustainable sources of energy. The
centre supports more than 60 faculty
and 200 graduate students whose
research includes clean burning engines,
fuel cells systems, process emission
reductions and new energy sources such
as hydrogen and biofuels.
"It's one ofthe holy grails," says
Wilkinson, professor and Canada
Research Chair in the Dept. of Chemical
and Biological Engineering. "Being able
to convert the greenhouse gas C02 into
cleaner energy fuels on an industrial
scale would not only help to offset the
future shortage of fossil fuels but would
help to offset C02 emissions to reduce
the risk of global warming."
The process requires capturing C02,
combining it with water, and then
using the sun's energy to trigger a
photochemical reaction. With enough
light, the photocatalyst transforms
carbon dioxide into simple low-carbon
fuels such as methane, methanol and
others that can be used for combustion
or in fuel cells for many different
Since C02can last up to 100 years
in the atmosphere, the challenge is
developing photocatalysts that can
use solar radiation to break down C02
efficiently and at practical conversion
rates without using another energy
Over the past months, Wilkinson
and his team have been working with
photocatalysts that employ nanoscopic
structures of titanium oxide mixed
with copper and other materials for
improved performance. "We're looking
at ways to improve how efficiently the
photocatalyst works, its stability and
sensitivity to light, and how best to
incorporate it into a reactor," explains
"It's conceivable that we could have a
small pilot prototype within five years,"
says Wilkinson, adding that CERC is
one of only a few centres in the world
tackling solar-carbon conversion, an
emerging research area.
He notes that, "UBC is uniquely
positioned given the scope of our
sustainable clean energy research and
our progress in such related fields as
catalysis, fuel cell and electrosynthesis
technology, and advanced electrolysis
including solar splitting of water."
The new technology would initially
target industries where large quantities
of C02are produced, such as power
plants that use natural gas or coal.
"Until recently there have been very
few options to use this waste C02 as a
useful input to other processes, instead
of releasing it into the atmosphere or
burying it underground." •
For more information about
UBC's Clean Energy Research Centre,
visit www.cerc.ubc.ca
^Clean energy researcher David Wilkinson is investigating solar fuels.
SYSTEM, invented by Physics
Prof. Lome Whitehead, uses
automated mirrors to collect
and channel sunlight deep
into UBC's Biological Sciences
CAR, developed by engineer
students, travelled 5,060 km
the distance from Vancouvei
to Halifax—on one gallon
of gasoline.
Ming Bai (left) and Jingmei Li interned with China's Modern Green Development.
Going green abroad
Students learn through partnership
with China's top green building developer
Heather Amos
A unique internship experience gave
three UBC engineering students the
chance to get out of their labs and off
the continent this summer.
The graduate students went to China
to learn from the country's top green
building developers, Modern Green
Development, a partner with UBC's
Centre for Interactive Research on
Sustainability (CIRS). The students
were asked to use their engineering
knowledge to improve or develop new
technologies to make buildings more
"It's good to use your knowledge
and apply it to real-life scenarios,"
says Jingmei Li, a PhD candidate in
mechanical engineering, who spent her
summer working at Modern Green's
Beijing office.
Modern Green has developed more
than 10-million square-feet of green
buildings in China and Australia, using
geothermal heating, energy-saving
technologies and other sustainable
building practices. It is currently
building its first development in Canada,
Yu, on UBC's South Campus.
Earlier this year, Modern Green
donated $3.5 million to UBC to
establish a research partnership with
the university. As a result, UBC students
can intern at Modern Green to learn
how the company takes research from
the lab and puts it to use in designing
new green buildings.
Li, who is originally from China and
who had studied heating, ventilation
and air conditioning systems for her
master's degree there, used this work
to help design and consider different
options for radiant cooling, a system
that cools down living spaces by
absorbing heat from a room.
"Now that I have some experience
working in the industry, I have more
confidence in my research and how I
can apply it," says Li, who wants to work
in the field once she has completed her
PhD studies next year.
Modern Green is among a
growing number of industry
partners collaborating with UBC on
sustainability solutions. UBC has
partnered with Honeywell, Haworth
and BC Hydro for the CIRS project,
and Nexterra Power Systems Corp.
and General Electric Co. for UBC's
Bioenergy Research and Demonstration
Project, which is the first biomass-
gas-fueled, combined heat-and-power
generation system of its kind.
These collaborations help UBC
achieve its sustainability goals while
giving partners the opportunity to
collaborate with researchers and
students and test innovations at a
community scale.
Ming Bai, a master's student in
electrical engineering, had never
studied or worked in the field of
sustainability, but spent his summer
with Modern Green researching how
to reduce energy use in houses and
implement metering systems that
increase consumers' awareness of their
energy consumption.
Bai, who had visited Beijing before,
noticed that the city had changed and
that it was working hard to make things
more sustainable. He is now interested
in pursuing engineering work
opportunities including sustainable
building design. •
UND will provide up to
120,000 in funding for
student-led sustainability
projects this year.
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   November 2011
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A thicket of kale surrounds researcher Eduardo Jovel and PhD student Alannah Young Leon at UBC Farm.
Growing social
sustainability at UBC Farm
Lorraine Chan
The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm hosts
a number of indigenous food security initiatives that are
seeding social sustainability through the elements of water,
earth and community.
Consider the Urban Aboriginal Community Kitchen Garden
Project, which is organized by the Vancouver Native Health
Society. Hundreds of participants - many from Vancouver's
Downtown Eastside - regularly make the trek to UBC Farm
which involves carpooling or taking the bus to UBC's south
campus. They plant, weed and harvest crops, preparing
communal meals and sharing extra produce with those in need.
Many participants undergo a sense of renewal by connecting
to others and to the land, says Assoc. Prof. Eduardo Jovel,
Director of Indigenous Research Partnerships at the Faculty
of Land and Food Systems.
Jacqui Adams says her time at the Urban Aboriginal
Community Kitchen Garden Project is nothing less than
restorative. "When we came back from residential school in
the summertime, my mom always had a garden. There is a lot
of stuff that I forgot about, that I am remembering. It restores
my soul."
Also at UBC Farm are the Maya in Exile Garden, the
Institute for Aboriginal Health Teaching and Learning
Research Garden and the Musqueam Indian Band Garden.
Overall, more than 300 community members and students got
involved in these four gardens.
"As a 24-hectare teaching and learning farm, UBC Farm
offers a physical and cultural space where people can explore
sustainability issues, including Aboriginal health and
traditional ecological knowledge," says Jovel, whose research
areas include ethnobotany, aboriginal health, natural product
chemistry and food security.
Jovel says UBC Aboriginal faculty and academic units, along
with community partners, are developing an interdisciplinary
community service learning (CSL) field school at the Center
for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm where students
can engage further with Aboriginal communities. Curricula
will address issues such as intellectual property, culture,
research ethics and traditional protocols.
UBC is a recognized leader in community service learning
(CSL), which encourages students to apply discipline-specific
knowledge in resolving real-life challenges, he says. Last
year, close to 2,600 UBC students engaged with non-profit
organizations, public schools and businesses in CSL projects
as diverse as analyzing living wage policies and supporting
children's literacy.
"When working with indigenous partners, we advocate
a common protocol that follows the four 'R's' - respect,
responsibility, reciprocity and relevance," says Jovel, a
Pipil from El Salvador who is interested in how indigenous
worldviews intersect with western science.
One step toward this vision is an online video library that
Jovel's team will launch this year to connect students with
Aboriginal initiatives at UBC Farm. The videos document the
often profound journey of participants, he says.
UBC's Institute of Aboriginal Health (IAR) also hosts
popular monthly "Feast Bowl" events at the First Nations
House of Learning, which feature guest speakers and lunch
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   November 2011
with UBC Farm-fresh ingredients,
attracting upwards of 100 guests. As
well, the IAR facilitates a summer
workshop series, which recently looked
at traditional medicines and how to
prepare tobacco - harvested from UBC
Farm - for ceremonial use.
"We want to demonstrate
that Aboriginal learning involves
multi-generational education, a holistic,
experiential, spiritual and communal
process," says Jovel.
He says these values support
UBC's academic plan for south
campus, which envisions UBC Farm
as an immersive environment for
globally significant research on key
sustainability issues that include
green technology innovations, organic
agriculture and clean energy. "Our work
also advances the objectives ofthe
Aboriginal Strategic Plan in outreach
to local indigenous communities,
curricula development, and public
programming." •
"There is a lot of
stuff that I am
It restores my soul."
In 2011, UBC was named
Canada's first "FAIR TRADE
CAMPUS." UBC now has its very
own blend of ethically sourced
coffee, courtesy of Vancouver's
Milano Coffee.
Prof. Erica Frank, says NextGenU will be tuition-free, carbon-free and open to all.
Public health
professor pursues
online university
Brian Kladko
As UBC and other universities strive to
reduce their greenhouse emissions
over the coming decades, one faculty
member is determined to hit a far more
ambitious goal - creating a completely
carbon-free university, now.
Prof. Erica Frank, UBC School
of Population and Public Health, is
preparing to launch NextGenU.org -
an online university that will initially
emphasize health sciences education.
NextGenU's primary target is the
millions of current and potential
students in the developing world, where
specialized higher education is a scarce
resource. Frank believes computer-
aided education can help address the
huge imbalance between the need for
health professionals and the number of
seats to train them all.
Frank, a physician and Canada
Research Chair in Preventive and
Population Health, thinks NextGenU
can make post-secondary education
a more environmentally, financially,
and socially sustainable enterprise
by allowing people to learn where
they live and work, instead of forcing
students and instructors to relocate
great distances, regularly commute, or,
in the case of continuing professional
education, travel to distant meetings.
Online materials are provided
through wind-powered servers, while
skills-based learning will come from
volunteer local mentors, and local and
international peer-to-peer training.
And tuition? There is none.
NextGenU will not only be carbon-free,
but free, period.
"Traditional education, what I call
'University 1.0,' is enormously resource-
intensive," Frank says. "Buildings must
be built, maintained, powered, and
heated or cooled. People must travel to
them. And that also costs a lot of money,
with much ofthe cost passed on to the
students themselves. NextGenU enables
people to advance their knowledge,
their skills, their careers, without any
additional burden on the planet - or
students' finances."
NextGenU.org can operate with a
small budget, as nearly all instructors
donate their time, either in creating
courses or acting as local mentors.
Educational materials are drawn from
web resources like Health Sciences
Online, NextGenU's first library, an
online portal that Frank began in 2001
that contains links to 50,000 learning
Frank's commitment to
environmental sustainability extends
beyond NextGenU. She recently
won a two-year $20,000 University
Sustainability Initiative Teaching &
Learning Fellowship from UBC to
create on online course on climate
change and health - one of NextGenU's
first offerings. Prior to moving to UBC,
she co-designed and lived in the only
energy-independent home in Georgia
(all of its power was self-generated), and
also served as president of Physicians
for Social Responsibility.
Altogether, NextGenU plans to have
about 20 courses ready for its launch,
expected in the next couple of months.
NextGenU is not offering any degrees
for now, but will immediately offer an
equivalent of a master's degree in public
health, called a Certificate in Public
Health, endorsed by the American
Association of Public Health Physicians,
the Public Health Foundation of India
and the Presbyterian University of East
Africa in Kenya.
NextGenU will also launch with
residency and other training programs
for physicians in the developing world,
in the areas of emergency medicine,
pediatrics, and preventive medicine.
While the venture is aimed at the
developing world, Frank believes many
courses will be useful for students in
Canada and other wealthy nations.
"NextGenU is for a new generation
of learners, who do not want or may
not have the luxury to pay for their
education, or leave their homes to
receive it, or degrade the environment
through the act of learning," Frank
says. "The standard model of university
education simply doesn't work for
vast numbers of students, so we're
launching, testing, refining and
expanding a new model." •
For more information visit: nextgenu.org
Application Deadlines
2012-2013 Early Career Scholars
The Early Career Scholars Program
is for full-time UBC faculty who are in
the professorial ranks and at the early
stage of their academic careers at UBC.
The Institute will appoint up to fourteen
untenured Assistant and Associate
Professors. Assistant Professors within
two years of their appointment at UBC
and Associate Professors within two
years of promotion at UBC are eligible.
The amount of this award is $10,000.
MARCH 1,2012
Exploratory Workshop Grant
Exploratory Workshops provide funding
for bringing together researchers
from different disciplines at UBC
with distinguished external experts
to, for example, work jointly toward
assessing the research possibilities
in a new area. Typically, Exploratory
Workshops will take place over a
period of several days and have a mix
of open and closed sessions. The
amount of the award is up to $25,000.
For more information, please visit our
website at www.pwias.ubc.ca or call
us at (604) 822-4782.
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Vancouver, BC
Harnessing nature's
energy to heat
an entire campus
Geothermal technology expands to academic
buildings on the Okanagan Campus
Darren Handschuh
The University of British Columbia's
Okanagan campus is digging deep-
literally—to reduce the impact it has on
the planet.
UBC has gone underground to
employ geo-exchange technology
for the heating and cooling needs of
most campus buildings. Using the
natural energy ofthe earth reduces the
environmental footprint while meeting
the climate-control needs ofthe large
campus buildings.
The geo-exchange system is estimated
to avoid putting approximately 38,000
tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions into
the atmosphere over the next 25 years.
On average, a typical passenger car
emits 5.5 tonnes of C02 annually.
All new academic buildings are now
heated and cooled using geothermal
technology—including the Fipke
Centre for Innovative Research,
University Centre, Arts and Sciences
II, Engineering, Management and
Education (EME) and the Health
Sciences Centre. In addition, the new
212-bed Purcell Residence has its own
horizontal geo-exchange loop system.
Existing Okanagan campus academic
buildings are being retrofitted for heat
from geo-exchange.
"The geo-thermal system serves as the
foundation of our emissions and energy
reduction strategy on campus," says
Jackie Podger, associate vice president,
finance and administration. "All new
academic buildings are expected to
create substantial energy savings over
a conventional building with the same
design, and generate fewer greenhouse
gas emissions."
Geo-exchange technology extracts
low-grade heat from the earth—in the
case ofthe Okanagan campus with
water from a lake-size underground
aquifer—and compresses it via a reverse
refrigeration process that increases the
temperature and can then be used to
heat buildings in the winter.
In the summer, the relative cold
temperature ofthe aquifer water cools
the buildings.
Benefits of geo-exchange include
reduced natural gas consumption, a
reduction in harmful greenhouse
gas emissions, and significant
operational cost savings compared to
using conventional, gas-fired heating
"Measures to improve operational
sustainability on campus go beyond the
geo-exchange system to incorporate
green roofs, solar panels for domestic
water pre-heat, water-saving fixtures
and best practices in locally-sourced,
high-recycled content materials,"
says Leanne Bilodeau, director,
sustainability operations. "Together,
these measures serve to reduce the
campus' environmental footprint,
reduce energy use and costs and help to
support the local economy." •
Key sustainability
projects on UBC's
Okanagan campus
Sustainability Institute
The Okanagan Sustainability Institute
(OSI) is an interdisciplinary, inter-faculty
institute dedicated to issues of long-term
sustainability within the Okanagan region
and beyond. Membership is made up of
faculty and staff at UBC's Okanagan
campus, complemented by a variety of
partnerships in the region.
The objectives of OSI include the
generation of information, knowledge,
methods and processes that help regions
in planning sustainable development
while also advancing academic
knowledge and practice.
Partnership with Kelowna
UBC's Okanagan campus has partnered
with the City of Kelowna on several
sustainability initiatives that advance
climate action goals and benefit the
environment. UBC has funded projects
that will reduce water use, increase
transit ridership and cultivate social and
cultural sustainability through story and
local food.
Sustainable transportation and ways to
reduce waste going in to landfills are also
joint projects between the city and
university, as is an academic grant
program to advance sustainability in
Kelowna's Glenmore neighborhood.
Okanagan Campus green roofs provide natural temperature control.
UBC Reports The University of British Columbia   November 2011
Reflections on academic life
A UBC expert participates in AI Gore's
24-hour climate reality project
Prof. Simon Donner
UBC Geography Prof. Simon Donner (left) beside U.S. vice president AI Gore during the 24-hour broadcast.
This September, UBC climate change expert Simon Donner participated in former
U.S. vice president AI Gore's latest project, "24 Hours of Reality," a worldwide
online event that connected recent extreme weather events—floods, droughts and
storms—with manmade pollution that is changing our climate. In this edition of
Outtakes, Donner gives a behind-the-scenes account of his experience on the set in
New York City.
Once the make-up was done and the microphones were attached, the segment
producer led us out to the stage and assigned us seats on the couch. I was last.
"Simon, take the end there, and Mr. Gore will sit beside you before we go live."
Wonderful, I thought. Thanks for the warning.
When I was first asked to be panellist on AI Gore's "24 Hours of Reality," I was
skeptical. I've seen many well-intentioned efforts to raise awareness about climate
change turn into political spectacles that alienate much ofthe audience. But in
talking it over with family and colleagues, I was reminded of that old Roosevelt
quote: it's not the critic that counts.
So I found myself sitting next to former U.S. Vice President—the maker ofthe
Academy Award-winning documentary The Inconvenient Truth, thinking "remember
to say the bit about methane" and "Forget Paul Simon, DO NOT CALL HIM AL."
Mr. Gore—I got that right—was gracious and put us nervous scientists at ease.
I actually found his close-ups the only stressful part ofthe broadcast. In the video,
you can probably tell the moment I noticed that my head was in all of his close-ups.
I tried to quietly shift sideways, but the only way out ofthe shot would have been to
sit on someone else's lap.
Though I do wonder whether Mr. Gore's mix of science and solutions is the most
effective method of outreach, I gained a real admiration for the energy and passion
his team brings to addressing climate change. •
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