UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into triple bottom line value of Pavegen tiles : installation at UBC Crockett, Shawn; Fleming, Lukas; Kim, Saeromi


It has been proposed to install eight Pavegen tiles in the new Student Union Building (SUB) at UBC. Each tile produces 3J of energy when stepped on and the combined purchase, shipping, and installation cost of eight tiles is $30 800 minimum. The main goal of the proponent is to use the tiles as a tool to increase students’ awareness of sustainability. The energy produced would help to power display screens used for way-finding and for displaying sustainability related information. To determine if this project should be done, a triple bottom line investigation has been performed that considers economic, environmental, and social indicators. Economic indicators found the net present value to be -$30 244.27, the internal rate of return to be -66.18% and the payback period to be 303 149 years. Environmental indicators found that the energy required to produce and to ship the device to be 142.88MJ while it would only generate 6MJ over its lifetime. Needless to say the economic and environmental analysis both show significant loss. Moreover, the device cannot be called “sustainable” because it produces net negative energy over its cradle-to-grave life. The social indicators show the potential to reach 40 000 students over the life of the device which can be either very positive or very negative depending on people’s reaction. Unfortunately anyone who discovers the economic and especially the environmental indicators, will likely develop a negative reaction. Hence, it is not recommended to purchase the Pavegen tiles. Both primary and secondary research was performed. Secondary research included books, internet sources, Pavegen customer information sheets, and AMS information sheets. Primary research included a student survey and a faculty survey. Many details about the product were not available due to intellectual property limitations and so numerous assumptions and estimates were made. A sensitivity analysis was performed where possible to asses the effect of variations in the assumptions. It was determined that the overall conclusion would not be affected by such variations. Assumptions made included: no maintenance costs, all tiles reach their full lifetime, constant inflation rate of 2%, quantity of the materials used in fabrication, and that only 30% of students use the stairs in the SUB. 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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