Academic District Energy System - Steam to Hot Water Conversion

Use of Area

This project addresses a fundamental need to replace aging steam infrastructure, which has reached the end of its useful life, with a more efficient hot water system. When the conversion project ends in 2015, the ADES will heat over 130 buildings, including over 800,000 square meters (8.6 million square feet) of floor space for hot air and domestic hot water.

Sustainable Features

Replacement of the existing steam heating system infrastructure with a hot water district energy system is an integral component of the strategy to achieve UBC Vancouver’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target of 33% by 2015. The new equipment will serve the growing campus, as well as generate approximately $5.5 million in average annual operational and energy cost savings from reduced natural gas consumption, carbon liabilities (offsets and carbon tax), maintenance, and personnel requirements.

This new energy system will also provide a platform for future UBC ‘Campus as a Living Laboratory’ demonstration projects.

What Is Being Done

This project is being implemented in phases and will include replacing the existing steam heating system infrastructure (boilers, distribution piping, and building heat exchangers) with infrastructure for a hot water district energy system. It will also provide onsite steam generation for buildings that require process steam for research or operational purposes.

This project represents one of the largest hot water conversions in North America with 14 km of pre-insulated hot water distribution piping, over 110 energy transfer stations (ETSs) in building mechanical rooms, and a new 60-megawatt, natural gas-powered Campus Energy Centre Hot Water Plant.

You can find out more about the ADES project here.

Time & Cost

As at March 2014, the ADES upgrade is more than halfway complete and the Campus Energy Centre Hot Water Plant has begun construction. The next 18 months will see the final phases of the ADES project implemented, with scheduled completion in the fall of 2015.

The project has an approved budget of $88.3 Million and is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2015. The project remains on schedule and within the approved budget.

Project managerS

Mike Champion, Aaron Mogerman and Ryan Huffman.


Kevin Phelan.



Alternative Energy

Project Services is responsible for the delivery of state-of-the-art alternative energy projects including the Academic District Energy System steam to hot water conversion project, the Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility and a continuous optimization program to improve the energy performance of existing core academic buildings.