Energy management

Energy and water are operational essentials that support all work, study, and research. Your actions directly affect the use of energy, water, and ultimately, greenhouse gas emissions. The energy team at the University of Manitoba makes informed choices to minimize the institution’s carbon footprint associated with utilities, with a goal of continuous improvement and ongoing maintenance to reduce operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Energy management initiative

    The University monitors all energy and water consumption including its optimization initiatives. UM has focused on energy efficiency for decades with the first computer-based building control system being installed in 1979. Today, facilities are monitored and controlled by thousands of digital controllers that keep a close watch on consumption behind the scenes.

  • Central Energy Plant re-servicing

    A long-term plan is underway to provide the Fort Garry campus with a reliable and sustainable heating source for the next 50 years. Options being studied are heating the campus with renewable natural gas, locally sourced biomass and campus-wide energy conservation as alternatives to using natural gas.

  • Chilled water system optimization

    The chillers located in the Central Energy Plant are the largest electrical loads on campus. Control optimization of the chillers and end-use in buildings throughout the campus will provide estimated annual energy savings of $110,000 per year.

  • Campus metering upgrades

    Electrical meters are being upgraded in facilities across campus to improve accuracy and reliability. These meters are connected to a new IST virtual server that polls the meters for automated reading and long-term data logging.

  • Process optimization

    UM seeks to improve system performance while minimizing energy use. As building technologies advance, we apply proven technologies to improve our facilities and provide safe user environments. Variable speed drives, digital control systems, flue gas heat recovery, district heat recovery, campus-wide heating and cooling systems, heat pumps, indoor air quality monitoring, dual-core heat recovery ventilators, and LED lighting are used across campus to maximize efficiency.

  • Continuous improvement

    UM facilities staff are actively engaged in exploring sustainable solutions to design problems and continue to update technical specifications with sustainable materials and installation requirements. We continuously look for new ways to improve and optimize operations across all campuses.

Green buildings

UM has adopted a LEED Silver rating as the target certification for all new buildings. For both new buildings and renovation projects, all Requests for Proposals (RFP) include a sustainability component, and consultants are required to follow LEED requirements as much as possible. Consultants with LEED accreditation score higher on the RFP.

Here are the green buildings certified under the LEED program.

Exterior view of the Migizii Agamik - Bald Eagle Lodge up a pathway lined with trees to the front entrance.

Migizii Agamik - Bald Eagle Lodge (LEED Gold) – certified 2009  

Migizii Agamik at the UM's Fort Garry campus is a multi-use building, primarily to enable Indigenous students to access counselling, social networks and other support offered through on-campus programs. Building elements include 29 offices, reception, boardroom, staff lounge, student lounge and study/computer rooms, food service area, the Circle Room and a large, multi-purpose, central meeting area for larger events. The heating and cooling of this building uses energy recovered from within the building and from around the campus.

A beautifully illuminated front entrance of the Active Living Centre during a sunset.

Active Living Centre (LEED Silver) – certified 2017

The UM Active Living Centre is a beautiful facility that provides a full array of fitness and recreational activities and amenities to the community at large and focuses on specific educational values promoted by the UM Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management. Heating and cooling energy for this building is recovered from exhaust air to significantly reduce the building heating and cooling loads.

Four students studying together in a student lounge area with a large green living wall behind them.

Stanley Pauley Building (LEED Silver) – registered 2016

This building is 46,100 square feet with an engineering innovation and prototyping centre, a  co-op/industrial internship program office, Internally-Educated Engineers Qualification (IEEQ) Program Office, student study space, teaching and research laboratories, and biomedical engineering laboratories. This building uses dual-core heat recovery ventilators to recover energy and drastically reduce heating and cooling loads.

The dark rectangular glass exterior of the Innovation Hub building captures the reflection of the bright blue sky.

Smartpark Innovation Hub (LEED Silver) – registered 2017

The building is a four-storey office building and business incubator. The main floor includes a restaurant, atrium and mechanical space. Building heating and cooling is condensing boilers and variable refrigerant flow system. The building has a raised floor to allow ventilation to be distributed from below. All lighting is LED and washroom fixtures are low-flow.

Exterior view of the Tache Arts building, its large glass windows filled with the reflection of the surrounding trees and sunset.

Desautels Faculty of Music addition (LEED Silver) – registered, expected certification 2020

This project includes a 500-seat auditorium, music rehearsal spaces for jazz/large ensemble/choral ensembles, percussion studios, an electro-acoustic studio, an opera movement studio, and multiple classrooms and offices. This building uses a variable refrigerant flow for heating and cooling in addition to a robust humidification system to maintain a stable environment for artists and their instruments.

Exterior view of the ArtLab with its unique V shaped cement pillars and vines growing up the aluminum living wall.

ARTLab (LEED Silver) – not registered

The interior of the building is dominated by a central atrium that connects all four levels and animates the interior, encouraging the exchange of ideas between disciplines. The facility combines galleries, digital media labs, print media studios, sound stages, workshops, lecture theatres and classrooms into a unified whole, allowing UM to stake a claim as a significant contender in post-secondary art education.

The facade is composed of a glass curtain wall, large-scale aluminum grille screens supporting Virginia creeper vines, precast concrete panels and steel cladding. The large amount of north glazing not only provides excellent lighting for the studio spaces, but also increases the visibility of art production.

A blue sky and fluffy clouds are reflected into the glass exterior of the Pembina Hall building at the University of Manitoba Fort Garry campus.

Pembina Hall

Pembina Hall was the winner of the Sustainability Award at the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction's 2013 Alberta Steel Design Awards of Excellence. All 360 units in the Pembina Hall Residence are single rooms with an exterior glass wall, providing plenty of natural light and spectacular v,ews of the campus to the north and the Red River to the south. Each room includes a heat pump to keep residents comfortable using recovered energy from around campus.

Greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions

UM has worked to increase new green practices in many aspects of building design, infrastructure, operations and governance to reduce resource demand and improve efficiency. With one of the lowest Energy Use Intensities (EUI) among Canadian universities, UM continually leverages efficiencies within the district heat system. The UM Sustainability Strategy aims to take further action to reduce our institutional greenhouse gas emissions. The strategy commits UM to the following:

    • Develop green building and construction guidelines that support long-term sustainable campus development
    • Update existing University space policies and develop new space management procedures to ensure physical spaces are being used in an efficient way to minimize new buildings and optimize resource use
    • Increase efficiency in the management and procurement of campus fleet vehicles
    • Explore Net Zero approaches, methods and technologies in new construction and retrofit projects including the application of renewable energy systems
    • Create a climate action plan that includes targets for emission reductions, resilience and adaptation, and considers the financial benefits of planning
    • Reduce air travel emissions by providing infrastructure, education and support for web-based meetings and conferences, and access to carbon offsets and alternative transportation methods
    • Develop and implement a comprehensive energy master plan that considers building level and district energy systems to reduce energy while providing ongoing improvements though target-setting, monitoring and tracking
The university engineer showing students the inside of the UM powerhouse

Water management

Effective water resource management includes planning, developing, distributing and managing the optimum use of water resources for all UM campuses. The University of Manitoba is the largest consumer of water in the City of Winnipeg, which means we are continually looking for optimization and improvements to our management system.

  • Here are some major completed projects:

    • 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
    • In an effort to reduce waste and promote universal access to potable water, outdated and seldom-used fountains were replaced with new bottle fillers with automatic sensors
    • Improved water metering technologies provide Physical Plant with the capacity to monitor actual campus water usage, which results in an estimated savings of $500,000 per year

How you can help

Many sources of information are available on methods and practices for using energy and water efficiently.
Here are some tips everyone can consider.

    • Turn lights out when you leave rooms unoccupied or in unoccupied rooms that you pass. Encourage others to do the same.
    • Turn off or unplug office equipment, laptop computers, monitors and lab equipment, unless in use, especially at night and on weekends. Unplug equipment that is not used frequently.
    • Turn off fume hoods and biosafety cabinets when not in use to prevent the loss of conditioned air.
    • Close the fume hood sash when not in use to reduce airflow and save energy.
    • Adjust the thermostat to save energy when you are away from your office or dorm room for extended periods or vacations (where the thermostat is adjustable). Set to lower temperatures during the winter and warmer settings during the summer.
    • Avoid the use of once-through water-cooled devices.
    • Develop research processes that are efficient and use resources wisely.
    • Dress appropriately for each season. Personal heaters and cooling devices are strongly discouraged.
    • Choose computer and device power management settings to minimize energy usage.
    • Report water leaks to Operations and Maintenance
    • Use LED bulbs in all floor and desk lamps.
    • Do not idle fleet vehicles.

Student groups on campus

A number of groups on campus are working on social, environmental or economic sustainability issues. Many have volunteer or membership opportunities. Here are a few that focus on energy and water-related projects.


    UMEARTH, the University of Manitoba Efficient and Renewable Technology Hub, is a group of post-secondary students who are passionate about sustainability. Each year, UMEARTH comes together to increase the energy efficiency on campus by organizing sustainability events and completing technical projects.

    Learn more about UMEARTH

  • Engineers Without Borders

    Engineers Without Borders University of Manitoba Chapter promotes environmental and social sustainability at UM and other developing countries. They are composed of students with different majors (not just Engineering!). Some of their recent projects include promoting fair trade on campus and developmental planning in Africa. 

    Visit Engineers Without Borders on Facebook