TRU Sustainability is working to decarbonize campus

A preliminary project is in the works to make heating buildings more energy-efficient and cost-effective

TRU Sustainability is well known for their hard work to make the campus a more sustainable place for students and faculty. A new project, headed by Jim Gudjonson, is currently in the works to decarbonize campus, mostly through heating.

Gudjonson, who is also the Energy Manager and Sustainability Director at TRU Sustainability, said: “I’ve been strategizing how to reduce our carbon in terms of heating our buildings for quite some time now and we are, I think, 11 years into our energy management program.”

Gudjonson added that they’ve been thinking about how to heat buildings more sustainably as this makes up 92 percent of TRU’s carbon footprint.

When the new trades building was built, TRU changed the heating system there specifically and it made an impact.

Gudjonson said, “We put in a low-carb and electric system and what we did there was to oversize the system so it fed the existing trades building, so our campus grew by six per cent but our overall GHT emissions went down by 10 per cent.” Gudjonson added that “That was a huge eye-opener for us when we did that project because we could actually grow our campus and reduce our energy through low-carb and electrification.” This is something that Sustainability hopes to do with the other buildings on campus as well.

Although it seems like it will take a long time to decarbonize campus, the first of three zones may be completed within three to five years.

Regarding the timeline, Gudjonson said “we’ve been studying what it will look like for the past year and over the next six months we will design a system. This system will look to replace existing ones, and there will probably be three phases and three zones that will be strategically placed to allow us to tap into this new energy system.”

In their preliminary plans, Gudjonson hopes that with the new buildings being built on campus, they will share the same system. They are hoping to build and merge them similar to the new trades building project. TRU will be working to decarbonize campus in different zones and phases, which may overlap with one another.

“The first phase would be in the science, Old Main, Reach, and pool area, and that’s the focus of our study right now and designing a system for phase one,” Gudjonson said. “And phase two would the CAC, residence tower, and future development to the north and then phase three would be the existing trades, old trades, animal health, warehouse and any future expansion to the west. So that’s sort of the three not necessarily phases but zones and it might be that some of the zones happen at the same time.”

This project will also include making the residences on campus decarbonized as well, but because the campus is rapidly growing and changing, Sustainability will have to plan accordingly.

Luckily, reducing campus carbon rates will come with a lower carbon footprint and more options on what TRU can use to power campus. It will also lead to more efficiencies, including lower maintenance costs as there will only be one system to maintain.

Students need not worry about disruptions on campus, as much of the work should be done during the summer months and the systems will be strategically located as to not upset the semester flow. Although, students may expect small and infrequent interruptions.

Nevertheless, this project is sure to have an impact on our environment and should take our carbon emissions down.

Gudjonson said “students expect us to have a minimal carbon impact as the climate emergency is front and centre these days and this will allow us to get to 70 per cent below our baseline. So even though the campus will be growing, our carbon footprint and energy use will approximately be 70 per cent less than our 2010 baselines when we’re done the whole thing.”