UBC’s Energy and Water Infrastructure

UBC’s Energy and Water Services (EWS) unit manages the UBC Vancouver campus’s high-voltage electricity, district energy (steam and hot water), natural gas and water needs—and our utilities infrastructure is quite unique for a university.

On the simplest scale, we’re similar to a municipality in that we supply all the water on campus. We’re responsible not only for our potable water distribution system, but also for our sanitary and stormwater systems. We’re also the primary owners and managers of the natural gas distribution piping systems on our 1,000 acre campus. The only exceptions are the piping systems in the University Neighbourhood Association (UNA) neighbourhoods.

In addition to natural gas, we own the high-voltage electrical system that distributes electricity across the campus, which includes two major sub-stations. We took responsibility for the system nearly 60 years ago, in exchange for receiving what’s referred to as the “heritage”, or transmission rate, for electricity supply from BC Hydro. BC Hydro also provides electricity directly to the market housing neighbourhoods on campus.

We also operate the University’s original steam generation and distribution system. The steam system is currently being replaced by a new hot water generation and distribution system through the Academic District Energy System (ADES) project.