Energy & Water

Most energy and water systems at the University of Manitoba including the Central Energy Plant at the Fort Garry Campus are are managed by Physical Plant.

Learn more: 


In 1998, the University of Manitoba completed what was the largest utilities retrofit among Canadian campuses at the time... and was very pleased with the results.Benefits from the utilities retrofit as well as other more current energy conservation initiatives include:

  • Over 85,000 light fixtures updated.
  • Parking lot plugs cycled according to weather for maximum energy efficiency. Between 7am and 10pm 
    power is cycled continuously if below -20C, power is cycled 15 minutes on/off if between -10C and -20C, and power is off if the temperature is above -10C. Between 10pm and 7am - power is cycled continuously if below -5C to avoid additional wear on electrical components.
  • EXIT signs switched to energy conserving LED lights.
  • Variable air volume systems work in tandem with CO2 sensors control fresh air intake.
  • Switching elevators from constant speed drive to more energy efficient variable speed drive. 
  • New centralized chillers with variable speed drives, saves approx. $120,000/yr. 
  • District waste heat recovery system.
  • 30% of energy from renewable energy sources (hydro-electricity).
  • On-staff Energy Advocate continues to pursue energy conservation measures.

A major step in the University’s stewardship efforts was the 1997 Energy Performance Contract (EPC) which invested over $12,000,000 in utility saving initiatives and has generated savings of more than $50.2M to the end of March 2013 with $4.3M in the 2012/13 year alone.

The University of Manitoba continues to strive for a 5% year-over-year utility savings, a goal that is outlined in the Sustainability Strategy. Since 1990/91 the University of Manitoba’s Fort Garry campus has reduced its natural gas consumption by over 39% per sq. foot and electricity consumption by over 35% per sq. ft. despite significant expansion. This reduction in non-renewable energy also dramatically reduced GHGs per square foot.

The recuperator in the Central Energy Plant captures over 19,400,000 British Thermal Units per Hour (BTUH) in waste heat; enough to heat more than 240 homes every winter. The waste heat is used to offset steam requirements in campus buildings.

The Max Bell ice plant heat recovery upgrade takes heat out of ice, which was previously rejected by the ammonia ice plant, with a new 1,200,000 BTUH installation. The previously rejected heat is now being used year-round to heat building domestic water.

The University has adopted a LEED Silver rating as the target certification for all new buildings. The University of Manitoba’s Migizii Agamik (Bald Eagle Lodge) is the University’s first LEED certified building – achieving Gold certification in 2009. Other LEED projects underway at the University of Manitoba Fort Garry campus include the ART Lab (LEED Silver pending), the Active Living Centre (LEED Silver target), and the new music addition to Tache Hall (LEED Silver target).

All Requests for Proposals (RFP) include a sustainable design component, even for renovation projects. Though opportunities are limited for these projects, consultants are required to follow LEED requirements to the greatest extent possible. Consultants with LEED accreditation score higher on the RFP.

Staff members are actively engaged in exploring sustainable solutions to design problems and continue to update technical specifications with sustainable materials and installation requirements.

The Energy Systems at the University of Manitoba (Fort Garry)


The University of Manitoba is the largest consumer of water in the City of Winnipeg. In fiscal year 2006/2007, the University’s Fort Garry Campus consumed over 20 million cubic feet of water. However, we're making remarkable progress, including:

  • 5 year savings of over 545 million gallons of water (cutting water consumption in half over 10 years)
  • Replaced over 2,800 fixtures to low-flow or other water conserving devices
  • Design standards require all new and retrofit plumbing projects include water conserving fixtures and systems such as low flow faucets, shower heads and low capacity toilets.
  • Water cooled condensers tied to chilled water line
  • Water meters to be placed on all new buildings for improved water monitoring
  • Naturalizing many areas with drought resistant and native prairie plants.

The most recent water related project is the upgrading of water fountains in the University Centre building. In an effort to reduce waste and promote universal access to potable water, outdated, seldom used fountains were replaced with new bottle fillers with automatic sensors. As of mid-April 2013, over 100,000 “fills” were dispensed from the fountains.

Water consumption is more than 57% less compared to 1990 levels, generating an estimated savings of $1.69M in water billing for the University in 2012/13. Water metering technologies have been implemented providing Physical Plant with the capacity to monitor actual campus water usage. This information results in an estimated savings of an additional $500,000 per year.

Design standards require that all new and retrofit plumbing projects include water-conserving fixtures. These standards continue to be modified and expanded as new technologies prove their effectiveness.

Landscape watering is accomplished by using three small utility vehicles with small water tanks. Water conserving hanging baskets with a wick watering system continue to be used. Water use, fuel and labour costs for watering these baskets were reduced significantly as a result of these measures.