UBC and Okanagan College create green construction centre

Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton, left, with UBC engineers Rehan Sadiq, Kasun Hewage and Shahria Alam discusses green technology educational opportunities during a tour of the college's Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence.

Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton, left, with UBC engineers Rehan Sadiq, Kasun Hewage and Shahria Alam discusses green technology educational opportunities during a tour of the college’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence.

Partnership will create hands-on learning opportunities

A formal partnership between UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College has established a Green Construction Research and Training Centre (GCRTC) that will provide new research options and create hands-on practical training opportunities for students.

Professor Shahria Alam, with UBCO’s School of Engineering, has been appointed the first director of UBC’s newest research and training centre. Ashley Lubyk from Okanagan College’s Sustainable Construction Management Technology program has been appointed as the co-director for the centre.

“Our goal is to create a hub where innovation in green construction is fostered,” explains Alam. “We are already starting to develop shared capstone projects for our students and establishing a speaker series that focuses on green construction and smart energy use.”

The GCRTC will generate and expand knowledge in the areas of green (environment-friendly) construction-including materials, structural components and systems, and construction management. The objectives are to create civil infrastructure that is safe, durable, energy-efficient and affordable through innovative technologies, he explains. Industry collaborations are already underway with anticipated spin-off companies creating a community that supports self-sustainability and local economic development.

“This centre ties in extremely well with our institutional focus on sustainability,” notes Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s vice-president, education. “We are looking forward to furthering our collaboration with professor Alam, his colleagues and UBC Okanagan to advance the green building agenda.”

Alam’s research focuses on smart materials and their structural applications in infrastructure including seismic rehabilitation of structures and performance-based design. He is the chair of the Engineering Mechanics and Materials Division of Canadian Society of Civil Engineering and an associate editor of the Journal Bridge Engineering.

With more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, Alam stresses the importance of continuing to grow this sector in the Okanagan and its potential for a national and global impact.

“This joint initiative with Okanagan College will equip our students and researchers with the tools necessary to continue to innovate in the areas of green construction with a focus on sustainability,” he adds.

In collaboration with various municipalities, provincial bodies, Infrastructure Canada, construction associations and a large team of faculty members (from a range of disciplines including structural engineering, materials science, robotics, mechanical and electrical engineering, management, environmental science, economics and sociology), the centre will seek to develop transformative, paradigm-changing research that will be strategically vital to the construction industry.

School of Engineering Executive Associate Dean Rehan Sadiq says the centre is well-positioned to address the needs of the construction industry.

“Bringing together the expertise of our research faculty along with our colleagues from Okanagan College, we are confident that the centre will have a long-lasting positive impact into the future,” he adds.

Both UBC and Okanagan College have existing trades and technology programs and projects related to design and construction of future buildings. According to Alam, the Green Construction Research & Training Centre will find synergies between the two institutions wherever possible.

“Sharing ideas and expertise will be at the forefront of our success moving forward,” says Alam.

The centre has already launched a speaker series. More information can be found at: ok-gcrtc.sites.olt.ubc.ca

About UBC’s Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

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