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Academy Hill

​Building smart with natural gas

Just a short stroll from the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna sits Academy Hill. With 78 suites in two buildings, it’s a convenient and attractive housing option for UBC students, with features that help save energy and money.

Quality on a budget

“Academy Hill is completely geared toward parents of students who are buying units for their kid to live in, as well as investors who are buying them as rental properties,” says developer John Hertay. “We wanted them to be comparable to the residences on campus, setting a bar for good quality at a moderate price point.”
To balance the needs of buyers and renters, self-contained Magic-Pak units with natural gas heating and electric cooling were installed in each suite at Academy Hill. Natural gas provides more affordable heating compared to electric baseboards, and the Magic-Pak units, with ducts and venting, fit seamlessly into the walls, where they’re out of the way and reduce the risk of being damaged.
Heating and cooling are controlled by a thermostat in each suite, helping residents adjust their comfort year round. Individual metering ensures residents pay only for the energy their suite uses.

Attractive incentives

Piping to suites from FortisBC helped the developer save on the cost of installing natural gas at Academy Hill.  FortisBC supplied the individual metering solution and offset the cost of natural gas piping between the meters and suites.
“Incentives for installing natural gas certainly helped in our decision,” Hertay says. “Electric heaters are less expensive to buy than combination natural gas/electric units, but the subsidy made us weigh towards natural gas.  And our FortisBC energy solutions manager gave excellent advice on technical aspects and what equipment to buy and so forth.”  Plus, it meant they could offer patio connections for natural gas barbecues—another attractive feature for potential buyers and renters.
For choosing high-efficiency lighting, Academy Hill earned rebates from FortisBC PowerSense. ENERGY STAR® appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers and clothes washers are also included in each suite.

Selling solutions

To help communicate the benefits of its energy-efficient features, Academy Hill received marketing assistance from FortisBC, including brochures and billboards for the sales centre. 
“People coming to our sales centre want to know what to expect for operating costs when they’re buying an investment,” says sales representative Theresa Karpowich. “It’s great to have the information ready and give them the comfort of knowing their heating bills may be lower with natural gas.”

 Download this project overview