VIU Cowichan Campus Green Roof

Energy Efficiency

VIU LEED Cowichan Campus logo

The GeoExchange, and other high-performance design elements, result in over 45% energy savings in this facility compared to an equally-sized standard building.

GeoExchange provides:

  • Heating/cooling with zero carbon emissions
  • Highly-efficient, energy-saving heating and cooling source
  • Safer, simpler system for operations and maintenance
  • No unsightly, noisy equipment on campus grounds or rooftop

VIU LEED Cowichan Campus forest for energy efficiency

The Cowichan Campus uses renewable resources to achieve optimal energy efficiency. Heating and cooling of the facility, for example, is provided via a geo-exchange system. The building also uses solar energy to heat the facility's water through solar water heating panels.

GeoExchange System

A GeoExchange system is based on a heating and cooling process that uses the natural heat of the earth for both a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer. This is possible because ground temperatures at a certain depth are consistent all year long (10-15 degrees Celsius). The GeoExchange system is a cost-effective, energy-efficient, reliable and renewable energy source.

How the GeoExchange System Works

This system uses heat-exchange pipes placed strategically in the ground and pipes installed in the flooring of the building (hydronics), to circulate the energy.

There are 96 pipes in closed loops that run vertically beneath the ground's surface to a depth of 34 metres (113 ft). The loops are 3.3 km (10,800 ft) in length. The underground pipes are connected to a heat exchanger installed in the building. An anti-freeze liquid circulates through the piping both in the ground and the piping installed in the floors of the building.

In the winter, the solution that circulates through this piping absorbs heat from the ground and transfers it to the heat exchange unit. The heat is then transferred to the building through hydronics.

In the summer, the process is reversed. The system extracts heat from the interior air and transfers it to the ground, keeping the building cool.

VIU LEED Cowichan Campus solar energy panels on building used to heat the facility's water

The Cowichan Campus uses solar energy to heat the facility's water.