UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into composting alternatives at the new Student Union Building Downing, Doug; Vargas, Kelly; Penkar, Lawrence; Formby, James


The new student union building is to be built to as an example of sustainability for British Columbia and the world. As such, all aspects of sustainability, including how food waste is handled must be considered in detail. Nearly 48% of the total waste from the SUB is compostable. This represents about 46 tonnes annually. It is expected that after the new SUB is constructed, this figure will rise and more composting will be required. Composting at the current SUB building is mostly done offsite in a process that takes 21 days. This report will look in detail at an alternative method of composting using Black Soldier Fly (BSF) larvae. This is a new approach to vermicomposting and represents a significant advantage in both waste process time and overall composting ability. This report also examined the current operation of composting at the current sub, as well as the use of worms to improve overall food waste processing. Information was gathered to examine alternative composting methods from many sources, including interviews with UBC staff, industry professionals, academic journals, and online literature. As information was gathered, the possibility of utilizing BSF Larvae was examined and the requirements for such a configuration at the new SUB were examined. Interviews with LEED industry professionals and UBC Staff were also used to confirm our results and the overall result it would have on the project. Utilizing BSF Larvae to quickly digest food waste is a viable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional composting methods. This reports shows that BSF Larvae harvest food waste much faster than worms or traditional composting with minimal human input. Labour costs would be significantly cut while fertilizer and agriculture feed outputs would be maximized. Additionally, one point towards the LEED Platinum certification could be obtained if this composting strategy was implemented. It should be noted that such a project requires more space than provided in the current SUB plans for composting. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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