Buildings are not only one of the largest contributors to resource depletion and climate change, they are also the most visible and enduring elements of an organization's commitment to sustainability. UBC is a global leader in campus sustainability, due in large part to the wide range of measures it has applied to its building stock.

Visit the UBC Campus Sustainability website to learn more about  Green Building at UBC.

UBC's commitments to sustainability are informed by UBC Policy #5: Sustainable Development, the Climate Action Plan, the 20-Year Sustainability Strategy, the Vancouver Campus Plan, the Waste Action Plan and the Integrated Stormwater Management Plan.

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LEED Requirements

Provincial Requirements

The Province of BC's Energy Efficient Buildings Strategy (2008) states that all new government buildings and facilities will meet the standards of LEED Gold or equivalent certification.

UBC Requirements

UBC requires LEED gold certification for new construction and major renovation projects according to the UBC LEED Implementation Guide. The Guide is intended to provide project teams with UBC-specific guidance on LEED credits for the campus, clearly identifying credits that are mandatory and/or expected because they align with UBC policies and those which have been identified as less beneficial to the campus because they do not directly align with policy.

For projects that are not seeking LEED certification, an approved equivalent, under specific circumstances, may be considered such as  certification in an alternate green building rating system, agreed to in advance (for example Living Building Challenge or Passive House).

LEED Energy Performance Requirements

Refer to the UBC LEED Implementation Guide for the current mandatory points required for Energy & Atmosphere Credit 1: Optimize Energy Efficiency based on ASHRAE 90.1.

Note that in addition to the LEED EAc1 requirement, UBC sets an absolute Energy Use Intensity (EUI) target for each new project. The EUI target, expressed in kWhr/m2/yr, is identified in the Design Brief and is based on the building’s usage of space. The design team will be given an opportunity to review and discuss the EUI target and its implication for building design; after final agreement on the target the project shall be designed to meet the EUI.

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Design Process

A UBC Technical Sustainability Group advises on sustainability expectations for major projects. This group meets in advance of preparing the project’s Design Brief to discuss sustainability opportunities and possible challenges for the project.

Major Capital Projects follow UBC’s Sustainability Process which  integrates sustainability goals into the development process.

Step 1 in this process is the development of a Project Design Brief. UBC stakeholder workshops are held to identify each project’s social, economic and environmental sustainability goals, prior to the engagement of the design team. The goals reflect UBC’s sustainability targets and emerging project priorities and are in alignment with campus policy, plans and guidelines.

At step 2 the Design Brief is presented to the architect in the Start-Up Meeting and the goals are discussed with the project team.

UBC has found that three workshops with the design team and university stakeholders are needed in order to fully explore and integrate the sustainability goals into the project design. The first workshop (3A) takes place during schematic design and provides early focus on building massing, orientation and sustainable energy and water systems. The second workshop (3B) investigates design strategy synergies that will meet the goals set out in the Design Brief. The final workshop (3C) takes place during design development and uses interactive energy modeling to evaluate the trade offs between energy performance, lifecycle cost and system complexity.

For all projects, prior to the issuance of the DP, sustainability objectives are evaluated.  The Development Permit highlights the sustainability requirements that must be met prior to issuance of the Building Permit.

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Issues, Targets & Strategies

This section introduces high-level sustainability issues and targets that inform early stages of the design process. More detailed requirements are included within the Divisional Guidelines.

Energy & Atmosphere

Targets from the UBC Vancouver Campus Climate Action Plan 2010-2015:

  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions from institutional and ancillary buildings to 33% below 2007 levels by 2015.

Note that in addition to the LEED EAc1 requirement, UBC sets an absolute Energy Use Intensity (EUI) target for each new project.  The EUI target, expressed in kWhr/m2/yr, is identified in the Design Brief and is based on the building’s use.  The design team will be given an opportunity to review and discuss the EUI target and its implication for building design; after final agreement on the target the project shall be designed to meet the EUI.

UBC seeks to design and construct buildings that minimize energy consumption and are optimized for renewable energy sources. Building energy demand should be reduced through the following hierarchy, which can be applied across all building types:

  1. Use less energy – apply passive design strategies
    Passive design strategies have significant potential to decrease energy use in buildings and to improve users’ comfort. An integrated design process is critical to ensure that the passive design strategies are considered at the appropriate time and in the appropriate sequence and combination. Consider: building orientation, building shape and massing, space planning related to passive energy savings strategies, window and glazing design and exterior solar management (see VCP 2.3.10).
  2. Maximize thermal performance and air tightness of the building envelope. Passive House Design Fundamentals are to be included early in the design process. (see Passive House and the City of Vancouver Passive Design Toolkit in ‘Resources' below).
  3. Use energy efficiently – incorporate efficient and right sized active systems
    • Design low temperature radiant systems to use lower grades of energy. Connect building to the District Energy system or design to be District Energy compatible where applicable. (See Low Exergy Buildings in ‘Resources' below).
    • Use heat recovery opportunities.
    • For laboratories: use the Environmental Performance Criteria from Labs 21, which leverages and builds on the US Green Building Council's LEED for New Construction rating system (See Labs 21 below).
  4. Use low- and zero-carbon sources of energy.
  5. Minimize electrical peak demand to reduce future campus electrical infrastructure.  Avoid the use of electrical baseboard heaters.

Recycling Infrastructure for Buildings

To allow conformance with UBC’s waste management programs and regional waste disposal bylaws, UBC buildings must make provisions for indoor recycling stations, rather than stand-alone garbage receptacles, in addition to providing the necessary facilities for storage and loading of waste and recycling. Requirements and options for recycling stations can be found in the Recycling Infrastructure Guidelines for UBC Buildings.

Construction and Demolition Waste

UBC seeks to reduce waste from all demolition, construction and renovation projects by optimizing material use, reducing waste generated, and increasing waste diversion. For more information, consult our resources on Simple Steps for Demolition and Construction Waste Diversion.

Current versions of LEED and REAP should be consulted for waste diversion requirements on those projects. The goal for other non-LEED/REAP projects (including small to medium size renovation projects) as per the Technical Guidelines is to divert at least 75% of construction and demolition waste from disposal. This is now readily achievable in most projects, and can often have economic benefits. Learn more.

Waste tracking: All projects need to track the amount of waste and diversion achieved via project submittals, as per the Technical Guidelines. Projects can use the following templates to easily track project waste and create simple waste management plans.

The Excel spreadsheet template provides a package of all C&D waste templates that can be filled out electronically. These electronic templates are recommended over paper templates, as they provide automatic calculations.

Alternatively, the following individual pdf templates can also be printed and filled out by hand.

  1. Instructions
  2. Form A. Waste management plan
  3. Forms B & C. Waste tracking form with waste diversion report. (Form B is required for all projects; note that LEED or REAP templates may also be used)
  4. Unit converter (provides formulas to convert different materials from volume or area to weight)


Projects should target to reduce water consumption in institutional buildings by 3 0% compared to a conventional building.  Major capital projects should target LEED WE credit 3, 2 points.

Materials Selection

UBC seeks to promote the selection of materials that:

  • minimize life cycle environmental and social impacts
  • minimize the use or generation of harmful materials

To promote optimal material selection, UBC is committed to working towards content transparency for all products used on campus. Project teams should choose building materials that have demonstrated content, for example materials for which the manufacturer has developed Environmental Product Declarations and Health Product Declarations.

Project teams should demonstrate that building materials choice has been optimized as far as possible.

Include materials with the following characteristics where appropriate:

  • resused or salvaged materials or equipment
  • materials that are certified as having an optimized life cycle impact by a third party
  • materials with recycled and recyclable content
  • materials that are appropriately and responsibly sourced
  • bio based materials
  • wood

UBC Bird Friendly Design Guidelines for Buildings

Designers should consult UBC's Bird Friendly Design Guidelines for Buildings early in the design process.

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Energy & Atmosphere

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