The AMS Student Nest Sustainability Features

The AMS Student Nest Sustainability Features

Ever since we (UBC students) decided to build a new student union building, sustainability has been a core part of the new SUB project’s identity. Our new building is aiming to get LEED+ Platinum certification, which is the highest sustainable building status in North America. If we succeed, our building will be the most sustainable student union building in Canada. All thanks to our strong student sustainability culture.

Some quick facts about the building’s inherent sustainability features:

  1. There’s no mechanical air conditioning! Instead, fresh air is pumped through the floors, and hot air you have breathed out rises to the top and is displaced out of the building. This is called passive air conditioning.
  2. Greywater is used to flush our toilets! Nothing new here, just makes sense to use the water we washed our hands with to take away our waste.
  3. We use rainwater as well! This waters some non-edible landscaping and also gets put into our cooling system.
  4. Our building envelope is pretty thick, which keeps it warm when it should be, and cold when it should be. Just like a big thermos.
  5. All tenants of the Nest are not allowed to use Styrofoam. It’s banned!

If you’d like to know more about how the building itself works to have the smallest footprint possible, feel free to peruse our architect, DIALOG.

Beyond achieving LEED+ Platinum, many interactive sustainability features were envisioned for the new building.

Rooftop Garden

Do you know the folks who run our Orchid Garden? Well, they are expanding and taking over the garden space on the rooftop of the Nest. It will be open for you to access anything as a little park.

InVessel Composter (i.e. a massive 6 metre long biodigester)

The AMS Composting project has been a long succession of student projects that managed to slowly upscale from a handful of red-wiggler worms into a massive anaerobic machine to handle the building’s compost. We aim to completely close the loop on our organic waste, and reuse the compost created from our food scraps and compostable containers in our landscaping and gardens. For more information, visit the project page or contact our compost coordinator, Claire Melanson at

Building Dashboard

The Nest will be equipped with a state of the art building monitoring dashboard. By displaying information about the building’s energy consumption, water usage, and other metrics, occupants of the building will be able to see the magnitude of our environmental impact and adapt their behavior to reduce it. The main dashboard will be located in the AMS Sustainability Centre.

AMS Sustainability Centre

The building will also feature the AMS Sustainability Centre – a central space for sustainability groups and other interested folks to gather, do work, and present new ideas. In the centre, you can also check out the new fancy dashboard monitoring system that will show us just how we are all doing in terms of our sustainability practices in the building. We are still consulting student groups on how to best use this space. Please email David Stonham, our Sustainability Projects Coordinator, at if you’d like to have a seat at our student input workshops.

If you want to know more about any of the above projects, feel free to contact Kasha Foster, AMS Sustainability Manager, at