A view of the solar panels on the roof of the Robbins Health Learning Centre in 2019.
MacEwan University’s Facilities department is ISO 50001:2018 certified.
In 2019, the groundwork was laid for this impressive achievement as the department established measures to improve energy efficiency on campus. ISO 50001:2018 is a globally recognized standard to improve environmental impacts through best standards, practices and principles for managing energy systems.
“MacEwan has a long history of energy conservation and prudent use of resources, and with ISO certification, MacEwan is the first organization in Alberta to achieve registration to 50001:2018,” says Stuart MacLean, associate vice-president, Facilities. “ISO provides our team with an improved planning and implementation structure to operate and upgrade energy systems based on energy use, efficacy of equipment, viability of new systems and setting objectives. We strive to reduce our dependence on high emission fuels, and ISO 50001 provides a framework for energy improvement and sustainable goals.”
Here are some of the ways that Facilities is conserving energy:
Energy management committee
Comprising team members from Facilities and the Office of Sustainability, this committee meets regularly to work toward objectives related to improving the university’s energy performance. “MacEwan is well positioned to become more energy efficient because of the coordinated effort put forth through the energy management team,” says Kalen Pilkington, director of Sustainability. “This group of individuals from Facilities and the Office of Sustainability provide a diverse range of expertise that collectively make an impact of reducing our energy use on campus.”
Solar array pilot project
In 2017, the university implemented a solar array pilot project on the roof of the Robbins Health Learning Centre (see photo above). Having a solar panel system across the university enables access to a renewable source of energy.
The project included the installation of 50 solar panels (30 panels facing south and 20 facing west) with an estimated annual production of 15,000 kWh, which is equivalent to the amount of electrical energy used by two average household users per year in Alberta (or equivalent to 10 classrooms with 25 computers used for eight hours).
In the last couple of years, the Facilities department took an initiative to switch the lighting in the entire university to LED light bulbs, with the goal of reducing electricity consumption and costs. Currently, the retrofits include changing the valence lights in the second floor hallway of the Robbins building, with the goal of reducing electrical consumption by 4.6 per cent. In addition, valence lights in the City Centre Campus (Buildings 5 to 8) were retrofit, with the aim of reducing consumption by 8.5 per cent. Additional lighting retrofits are planned for the summer of 2020.
Campus equipment upgrades
The Facilities maintenance department has a robust project management system that helps to maintain and operate the mechanical and electrical equipment at the university. This system helps prolong the life expectancy and increase the energy efficiency of equipment via regularly scheduled inspections and maintenance. When the university’s boilers, chillers and air handling units near the end of their life expectancy, the Facilities department also looks for ways to install the latest, most energy efficient technology wherever possible.
“ISO 50001 helps us organize major plant equipment renewal strategies to align with the objectives of the Campus Master Plan and its expansion, capacity and sustainability requirements with growth and campus consolidation,” says Stuart.
SAMU building LEED Certification
One of the Facilities department’s objectives when constructing a new building is to ensure through its design that the new building will improve energy efficiency, emit fewer greenhouse gases and reduce the negative impact of the build.
Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Certification focuses on encouraging a more sustainable approach to how buildings are designed, constructed and operated. Certification levels are awarded based on a point system, with five main categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. The newly constructed SAMU building is on track to achieve LEED silver certification in 2020.
“Energy efficiency is truly a shared responsibility, and Facilities is laying a strong foundation through ISO 50001 objectives and the associated campus and infrastructure improvements,” says Kalen. “However, it is also important we communicate simple actions everyone in the MacEwan community can take to help. This includes measures such as turning computers off at the end of the day, ensuring lights and equipment are switched off in classrooms and doing our diligence when purchasing new equipment to ensure it is energy efficient.”
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