New green construction research hub to create industry-academia synergy

SOURCE: Chris Barbalis/Unsplash
The University of British Columbia and Okanagan College's new formal partnership will elevate the regional construction industry to look into more sustainable building initiatives.

By U2B Staff 

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The University of British Columbia (UBC) has joined forces with Okanagan College to build a research and training hub focussed on fostering academia-industry collaboration in green construction. 

Located at UBC’s Okanagan campus, the Green Construction Research and Training Centre (GCRTC), will provide students with hands-on multidisciplinary training opportunities and expand their knowledge of green building practices. 

Training programmes and research projects will be delivered by leaders of various disciplines, including structural engineering, materials science, robotics, mechanical and electrical engineering, management, environmental science, economics and sociology. 


“Green construction research that begins here in the Okanagan will generate new techniques, technologies, and materials that could have national or global impact.

“Through this new collaboration, UBC researchers, working side-by-side with faculty and students from the college, will develop solutions that help bridge the gap from where we are today to the greener future we seek for tomorrow,” said UBC Okanagan Campus Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Deborah Buszard during the signing of a letter of cooperation with the college. 

Green practices in construction focusses on climate resilience, sustainability,  and energy efficiency to cut emissions from the lifecycle of the built environment and reduce its effects on climate change.

green construction
Green building is a concept of environment-friendly construction with reduced wastage. Source: Bryan Lopez/Unsplash.

The centre will facilitate research activities in areas of green construction, covering materials, structural components and systems, and construction management.

The objective is to create environment-friendly and sustainable solutions for the greening of the construction sector. 

“Our core mission is to substantially help the construction industry to introduce innovative technologies, materials and techniques that can help reduce carbon emission,” GCRTC director Shahria Alam said in Construct Connect.

“The objectives are to create civil infrastructure that is safe, durable, energy-efficient and affordable through innovative technologies.”

The centre will serve as a venue for workshop seminars, short courses and conferences conducted by industry experts to provide students and local practitioners with information on the latest practices, technologies and ideas in the industry. 

As part of the centre’s current research efforts, shared capstone projects for students and speakers will be developed focussing on green construction and smart energy use.  

Besides students, other industry stakeholders will benefit from the centre’s training and research resources and programmes. They include educators, technicians, civil engineers, designers, consulting engineers, contractors, owners, facility managers, construction inspectors, inspection agency officials, and asset managers responsible for building maintenance. 

“Green construction sets an elevated standard when it comes to sustainability, looking for sustainable construction materials, methods and practices that are carbon-neutral or that engage renewable energy sources now and into the future,” said Alam. 


The GCRTC will also launch several spin-off companies to cultivate industrial collaboration and create a self-sustainable construction community that supports local economic development. 

“In strengthening our partnership in this way, we’re seeking to enrich and diversify the educational experiences for students, drawing from the considerable knowledge and expertise the college and the university bring to the table,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. 

“This enhanced cooperation is going to help us continue to educate the skilled workers who will raise the bar, invent new and better ways of doing things and continue to build our communities more sustainably.”

The establishment of GCRTS builds upon the work both institutions have done to establish the region as a hub for innovation in advancing sustainable construction.