Case Study: UBC Campus Energy Centre

About This Project

The heart of UBC’s district energy system, the Campus Energy Centre (CEC) features three 15 megawatt natural gas–fired high-efficiency boilers, with room for a fourth, and has the capacity to meet all of UBC’s heating requirements now and into the future. The facility has large windows and interactive signage so passerbys can learn about how energy is created on campus. In addition, the centre is made of cross-laminated timber (CLT), a renewable alternative to steel whose production demands less carbon.


The Campus Energy Centre is 24 percent more efficient than UBC’s old steam plant and will help reduce the campus’s overall carbon footprint.


Scope of services

Baseline noise and vibration monitoring

Before construction began, BKL predicted and assessed construction noise and vibration. To collect data on both baseline (pre-construction) and construction-related noise and vibration, the team took measurements at two nearby facilities: the Pharmaceutical Sciences Building and Life Sciences Centre, whose users, lab equipment, and specimens could be affected by noise and vibration. BKL conducted monitoring in a number of sensitive spaces at both locations to


  • establish the normal acceptable noise and vibration levels;
  • set criteria for the forthcoming project; and
  • determine whether specific construction activities were measurable or had the potential to exceed the criteria.


Baseline noise monitoring was also conducted around the future CEC site for the purpose of assessing future operational noise.


Excavation noise and vibration

With the baseline established and project criteria set, BKL conducted additional measurements during excavation and during a test-run of tamping to ensure these particularly-vibratory activities wouldn’t exceed project thresholds.


(Photo by Ema Peter)


While excavation didn’t cause any issues, BKL found that tamping caused excess vibration at two locations, including the electron microscopy lab, and recommended that construction planners communicate with lab managers to schedule future tamping activities. BKL also recommended adjusting the frequency of the vibration rollers to expand the acceptable threshold.


Operational noise and vibration

During design phase, BKL modelled noise levels generated from the future CEC and predicted the potential impact on adjacent noise-sensitive receivers. BKL reviewed the design and mechanical equipment selected and recommended mitigation measures necessary to reduce the noise emissions to acceptable levels.


After the CEC was up and running, BKL conducted attended noise and vibration monitoring in several offices and research labs, including rooms with a micro CT scan and electron microscope, to assess operational noise and vibration levels. BKL took measurements in each room, during start up and ramp up of a single boiler. After analyzing the data, BKL found that noise and vibration from the boiler met the established criteria—including manufacturer’s criteria for the micro CT scan and electron microscope, and there was no significant difference from baseline levels.


Project benefits

By assessing potentially noisy and vibratory construction activities, BKL ensured that operations at UBC Life Sciences Centre and Pharmaceutical Sciences Building remained as close to normal as possible. BKL identified and assessed potential issues, and when the issues had substance, as in the case of vibration from the tamping machine, BKL made recommendations to limit negative impacts.


BKL also recommended acoustic treatment and vibration isolation for CEC equipment and conducted post-construction measurements to confirm that operational noise and vibration levels inside the Pharmaceutical Sciences Building and Life Sciences Centre met the established criteria.


Select awards and certificates

  • LEED Gold certified
  • RAIC CaGBC Green Building Award of Excellence

UBC Campus Energy Centre

Year Completed:


Capital Cost:

$24 million

Total Area:

21,528 square feet

Case Studies, Energy
Baseline Noise Monitoring, Cadna/A Noise Modelling, Construction Noise Monitoring, Construction Vibration Monitoring, Noise & Vibration Management Plans, Post-Construction Monitoring