Engineering students in Prince George now have access to a state-of-the-art research facility to create sustainable wood engineering solutions, with the opening of the Wood Innovation Research Laboratory at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC).
The lab provides students, researchers and faculty members from UNBC with the ability to build and test large-scale wood structures, using engineered wood products, which complements the Wood Innovation and Design Centre next door. Features of the 1,070 square-metre lab include a wood conditioning and processing room, and office and classroom space for research and teaching.
The research lab is one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the province, on track to meeting strict passive house criteria. The building cuts heating energy consumption by up to 90%, and uses up to 70% less energy overall, when compared to a similar standard building.
The City of Prince George provided land for the building. The Government of British Columbia contributed $3.4 million toward the $5.3-million project. The Government of Canada’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund provided the additional $1.9 million.
The Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology is also providing UNBC with almost $800,000 to help provide the most up-to-date tools and equipment. This investment, coupled with matching funding from the Government of Canada and contributions from other partners, will result in a total investment of nearly $2 million for the lab equipment. The provincial investment is funded by the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund, which has provided over $735 million to more than 1,250 B.C. research projects since it was established 20 years ago.
As a result of investments under the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, students, professors and researchers will work in state-of-the-art facilities that advance the country’s best research and collaborate in specially designed spaces that support lifelong learning and skills training. They will work in close proximity with partners to turn discoveries into products or services. In the process, they will train for, and invent, the high-value jobs of the future. Their discoveries will plant the seeds for the next generation of innovators.
In total, British Columbia received $256 million through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. Twenty public post-secondary institutions and one private First Nation institution in B.C. are benefiting from a total of 30 individual projects throughout the province.
In January 2018, the Province announced funding for the first full civil- and environmental-engineering program in the North at UNBC. This announcement is another example of how the Government of British Columbia is investing in tech and innovation at UNBC to help ensure students throughout the province have access to the education they need to thrive in our economy, now and into the future.
Navdeep Bains, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development –
“This historic investment by the Government of Canada is a down payment on the government’s vision to position Canada as a global centre for innovation. That means making Canada a world leader in turning ideas into solutions, science into technologies, skills into jobs and startup companies into global successes. This investment will create conditions that are conducive to innovation and long-term growth, which will in turn keep the Canadian economy globally competitive.”
Melanie Mark, B.C. Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training –
“The wood innovation research lab is great news for students and researchers at UNBC, who now have access to state-of-the art facilities and equipment. Their innovation and research will contribute to our thriving forestry sector, helping us maintain B.C.’s position as a world leader in wood construction, products and design.”
Bruce Ralston, B.C. Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology –
“By developing innovative wood products for eco-friendly and cost-efficient construction, UNBC researcher Thomas Tannert and his students are keeping B.C.’s forest sector globally competitive. Our investment in this research lab and equipment will help generate good jobs in B.C., and modernize advanced tall wood construction methods for Canada and the world.”
Doug Donaldson, B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development –
“Expanding the innovative wood-products sector is a key part of our strategy for the forest sector, and the tens of thousands of British Columbians who rely on forestry jobs.”
Daniel Weeks, UNBC president and vice-chancellor –
“The Wood Innovation Research Lab is a phenomenal facility that will not only strengthen UNBC’s research culture in engineering and facilitate opportunities to discover creative new uses for wood in sustainable design, it also demonstrates how an industrial building in the North can be built to passive house standards. This new lab is a magnificent addition to UNBC’s presence in downtown Prince George, and the results of the research will have a significant impact across our region and around the world.”
Thomas Tannert, UNBC tall wood and hybrid structures engineering research chair –
“The next generation of tall wood buildings require new wood-based hybrid connections, components and systems. This investment in equipment and infrastructure will provide UNBC researchers with the capacity to conduct experiments and expand analytical research into these important structural applications.”
Lyn Hall, mayor of the City of Prince George –
"Like the Wood Innovation and Design Centre before it, the Wood Innovation Research Lab is a remarkable addition to downtown, and really represents what's new and exciting in Prince George. Beyond that, and perhaps even more importantly, the work that goes on inside of this new facility will attract students to our community, add to our local knowledge in forest products and help to realize our economic development aspirations with regards to innovation in forest products."
Alison Conroy, UNBC master of engineering graduate –
“The construction of the Wood Engineering Research Laboratory next door to our classroom allowed myself, and the other students, a first-hand glimpse into the construction of a building that employed the very principles of what we were learning every day. My research helped prepare me for my career by introducing me to local agencies and companies who had similar interest and needs for building science professionals, due to growing market and regulatory demand for high-performance buildings.”
- The Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan is designed to ensure Canada is globally competitive in promoting research, translating ideas into new products and services, accelerating business growth and propelling entrepreneurs from the start-up phase to international success.
- The targeted, short-term investments under the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund will promote economic activity across Canada, and help Canada’s universities and colleges develop highly skilled workers, act as engines of discovery, and collaborate on innovations that help Canadian companies compete and grow internationally.
- The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund supports the Government of Canada’s climate change objectives by encouraging sustainable and green infrastructure projects.
For more information about the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/programs/science-technology-partnerships/investment-fund.html
Angela FrattaroliMinistry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training
Media RelationsInnovation, Science and Economic Development Canada