BC invests in wood innovation research lab at UNBC
May 2, 2018 - Engineering students in Prince George, B.C., 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.
“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,” Doug Donaldson, B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, said in a news release.
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 per cent, and uses up to 70 per cent 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.
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