Portfolio | Institutional | ubc district energy system


ubc district energy system

Vancouver, BC

The new $85 million Academic District Energy System (ADES) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) was carried out over a five-year period and represents one of the largest steam-to-hot-water conversions in North America.

Implementing a vast underground network (14km) of insulated piping across the northern half of the University's Point Grey Campus, the new ADES replaces the existing, fatigued steam-sourced infrastructure with a hydronic-sourced system and heats more than 130 buildings used by 70,000 students, faculty, and staff. This conversion reduces energy use at the campus by 24%, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 22%, and operational and energy costs by $5.5 million per year. The project is a long-term investment with a payback period of 22 years.

AME was integral to the design from phase one and contributed to the mechanical design on nine of the project's ten phases, including the design of over 100 Energy Transfer Stations (ETSs) which replaced the steam-to-hot-water heat exchangers (HEXs). The new ETSs use high temperature, high pressure, heating water that circulates around the DES.

The largest source of savings will come from the new system's ability to heat the campus while operating at a significantly lower average temperature of 80C, compared to the previous steam system which operated at 190C.

Since crowded mechanical spaces significantly impeded the capacity for accurate on-site measurements, AME also provided 3D scanning services for the mechanical rooms of the ADES project for greater precision in creating as-built data and calculations. Scanned data was converted to point clouds as a representation of existing conditions and was subsequently used to design and pre-fabricate the new mechanical systems that were later installed on site.

Our work on this project has earned AME a 2016 ASHRAE Technology Award - First Place Region IX and BC Chapter Award for Existing Educational Facility. 

Client: University of British Columbia
Complete AME Group Portfolio