For more than 20 years, the Neyoh residence building at UNBC has been heated using natural gas.
However, with the help of the school’s bio energy plant, the 265 students living in that dorm can now reduce their environmental footprint in a whole new way. David Claus with Facilities Management says by September, students will notice new devices installed below each window. “It’s a hot water radiator, it’s basically a couple of panels sandwiched between some sheet metal with tubes in them and it sits over on the side of the room and gives off a nice even heat.”
In total, 381 radiators will be installed with the entire residence now powered with hog fuel from the local sawmills to heat the building via hot water. The initiative is all part of a heating loop added two years ago, connecting to the campus’ bio energy plant, says Claus. “What we’re doing as part of this project is giving ourselves a new piping loop that connects the pellet boiler to multiple other buildings on campus,” he said. “It will provide the main heat source that will be topped up by the bio energy plant.”
Originally heated using natural gas, Claus says the replacement brings savings of about 25 thousand dollars per year. Now replacing the electric baseboards with hot water heaters could make an even bigger impact. “If the heat that you’re buying is electricity, that costs about 28 dollars for that gigajoule of heat,” he said. “But if you’re buying natural gas, it’s about 12 dollars for that gigajoule of heat and we’re looking if we can provide that same gigajoule of heat through hot water so we can get even lower than the cost of the natural gas.”
President of the Northern Undergraduate Student Society (NUGSS), Arctica Cunningham, says the bio energy plant paves the way for greener technologies in the future. “It’s really tailor made for UNBC which is exciting and beyond that it’s a program that’s worked really well for the university for years,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to extend it on to the residence buildings and the daycare to further curb our natural gas consumption.”
The new heating system costs 500 thousand dollars, included in the five million dollar overall renovation budget for the Neyoh residence. The bio energy plant will serve the nearby Keyoh residence next September, along with already serving the campus’ daycare and the Enhanced Forestry Lab.