Recognizing that unchecked growth in a global system of limited resources is unsustainable, the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Factor Four Initiative aims to reduce BCIT’s energy and materials usage by—you guessed it!—a factor of four. The name and the mission comes from the influential 1995 report Factor Four: Doubling Wealth, Halving Resource Use, which developed the concept of resource productivity: the amount of “wealth” we can extract from the resources we use.
BCIT’s School of Construction and the Environment is leading the Factor Four Initiative in the seven buildings it occupies at BCIT’s Burnaby Campus, referred to as the “Factor Four Area.” The aim behind this initiative is to explore whether a fourfold (75%) reduction in materials and energy use can be achieved without making compromises that negatively impact health, comfort, or educational program delivery.
Smith Street, a pedestrian-friendly street at the heart of the Factor Four area, is flanked by buildings cloaked in living walls and green roofs. Pockets of green space provide seating areas for students to relax, study, and socialize. Buildings—which house programs ranging from architecture and civil engineering to welding, carpentry, and ecological restoration—have each been targeted for retrofitting or renewal, with the aim of further reducing materials and energy use.
Projects in the Factor Four area include a wood-waste-to-energy system that heats buildings with waste from carpentry and joinery programs, a dust collection system that runs on almost no electricity, and renovations that allow natural daylight to enter buildings through skylights and large windows.
As of September 2016, the Factor Four team had helped BCIT reduce GHG emissions by 49 percent in six buildings on Smith Street, and had directly involved over 250 students in over 20 project initiatives.
Watch a video about the initiative here.