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high performance building

2014 AWARD-WINNING PROJECT: UNBC Bio-Energy Plant, Prince George

This project is exemplary for bringing local energy production into view and so elevating public consciousness around ownership and responsibility. An elegant building whose expression is rooted in ’place’; a fabulous example of what more communities in Canada should be doing.

The UNBC Bio-Energy Plant is an 857 m², three-storey facility whose primary purpose is to reduce the overall greenhouse gas emissions associated with the operation of buildings on the UNBC campus. The building consists of three distinct program spaces: a fuel storage area, a processing plant and, an operations and research area. The project sets a number of sustainable precedents, being the first  university building in British Columbia, and only the second industrial building in Canada, to achieve LEED Platinum certification.

This project is a critical component in the development of the UNBC campus. The total floor space heated by the Bio-Energy Plant is 64,231 m², which equates to 68% of the total square footage of the buildings on campus and 71% of the total campus heat demand.

This is made possible through the use of a sustainable fuel supply with a high energy output. In addition to producing and distributing energy for use in nearby buildings, the Bio-Energy Plant also includes operational and research components. The latter accommodates faculty, students and others whose work is directed toward a greater understanding and ongoing refinement of the biomass gasification process.

The fuel storage and processing areas are the largest spaces in the building. Locating these components to the west of the building enabled the design team to better respond to the site topography and facilitate easier delivery of the biomass fuel. Burying these large volumes 3.4 metres into the earth also helped reduce the apparent scale of the building. The operation and research component of the facility is expressed as a cantilevered “box” clad in western red cedar siding.


  • Owner/Developer University of Northern British Columbia
  • Architect Hughes Condon Marler Architects
  • General Contractor IDL Projects Inc.
  • Landscape Architect Jay Lazzarin Landscape Architect
  • Civil Engineer L&M Engineering
  • Electrical Engineer MMM Group Ltd.
  • Mechanical Engineer The AME Consulting Group Ltd.
  • Structural Engineer Bush Bohlman & Partners
  • Photos Hughes Condon Marler Architects

Glulam and steel frame, concrete, spray foam insulation and curtain wall, tapered EPS insulation sidings of metal, fibre cement, and western red cedar; Nexterra Biomass Gasification System; Interface carpet tile.

Energy intensity = 119.6MJ/m²/year [includes non-regulated ‘plug load’ consumption]
Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under MNECB = 35%
Potable water consumption = 7,510 l/occupant/year
Potable water consumption reduction relative to reference building = 31.13%
Regional materials by value [800 Km radius] = 28.71%
Reclaimed and recycled materials by value = 16.35%