RRC Polytech’s Vehicle Technology & Energy Centre (VTEC) will continue to lead the charge on the shift to zero-emission vehicles (ZEV), thanks to support from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

The federal government, through NRCan recently announced a $225,000 grant for Enhancing Workplace Charging across Canada’s Prairie Region through Emphasizing Strategies for Cost-Effective Adaptation of Charging Infrastructure (Enhancing Workplace Charging), an initiative RRC Polytech will lead alongside partners Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) and Saskatchewan Polytechnic (Sask Polytech). This grant was provided along with funding for 22 organizations across Canada to undertake ZEV awareness projects.

Through this partnership, the College is extending its reach from Manitoba to throughout the Prairies to build public awareness of charging options for electric vehicles (EVs).

Our VTEC team at the College is excited to build on the momentum of EV projects we’ve completed over the last decade. This initiative is particularly important because it addresses a major challenge of making the shift to EVs on the individual level, and how organizations can support charging infrastructure for the general public.

Jojo Delos Reyes
Research Program Manager, VTEC

The overall aim of the collaborative initiative is to address one of the most significant barriers to EV adoption, “range anxiety” due to lack of access to charging infrastructure. RRC Polytech and project partners have identified that the Prairie region presents a major opportunity to implement charging stations to meet workplace charging needs. Throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, there are numerous existing plug-in-points (nearly 500,000 in Manitoba alone) due to the cold climate, which can be adapted in a cost-effective manner for Level 1 charging.

To support EV adoption, RRC Polytech’s VTEC team, NAIT and Sask Polytech will leverage collective expertise to research and distribute informational material to build awareness of charging options and how to adapt current infrastructure for Level 1 workplace charging.

RRC Polytech is a founding member of Accelerate and member of Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery (C2R2), and the Enhancing Workplace Charging project goals directly align with the mandates of these alliances to support a greener future, highlighting the College’s commitment to sustainability.

In addition, the project will help build a future workforce trained for clean-tech jobs, through student participation in applied learning. RRC Polytech researchers, technicians, and students will also help build the College’s capabilities for new zero-emission technology initiatives.

RRC Polytech remains on the leading-edge of the drive to zero-emission vehicles, growing the province as a hub for EV innovation and adoption. To learn more about the College’s past vehicle technology projects, visit rrc.ca/vtec

As leaders, the Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery (C2R2) coalition is actively engaged with the federal government to demonstrate how we can quickly respond to complex training and applied research challenges from coast to coast to coast. C2R2 is a coalition of highly aligned institutions from across Canada with an established commitment to sustainability, that have come together as a driving force, providing the skills required to transition to a clean economy in Canada. Our institutions are positioned to develop thousands of training and applied research opportunities to help Canadians access new careers, support the transition to a low-carbon economy, and foster inclusion, diversity, and equity.

We will ensure we are at the forefront of the transition by:

  • Rapidly implementing and scaling curriculum initiatives focused on training workers for a resilient recovery to meet federal targets
  • Demonstrating new and existing research expertise and facilities to innovate technology, techniques and products to drive the low-carbon transition and significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Utilizing the C2R2 pan-Canadian network to collaborate and expand the reach of training and research abilities to better support women, underrepresented populations, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples
C2R2 can support federal priorities. With government awareness, support and funding C2R2 can rapidly respond to the training and research opportunities needed to support an inclusive low-carbon economy.

In its November 2021 Speech from the Throne, the federal government said, “As a country, we want to be leaders in producing the world’s cleanest steel, aluminum, building products, cars, and planes. Not only do we have the raw materials and energy to do that, most importantly, we have skilled, hard-working Canadians to power these industries.”

Canada must become a leader in producing these clean materials if Canada is to meet its net-zero targets and build a more resilient, sustainable, and competitive economy. However, the federal government cannot meet these commitments alone. It requires the collaboration of provinces, communities, industry, and educational institutions to ensure we have the trained workers required to fill jobs in an emerging economy brought on by the opportunities a net-zero future provides.

Across Canada, the opportunities found in a resilient, sustainable and competitive economy are becoming apparent. From building Canada’s capacity to develop our critical mineral infrastructure, to ensuring Canada is at the forefront of emerging sectors like electric vehicles, artificial intelligence and carbon capture – Canada’s colleges, cégeps, institutions and polytechnics are ensuring workers can be trained to take full advantage of the opportunities these new sectors offer.

On February 10, 14 and 15, C2R2 members will be meeting with federal parliamentarians to ensure they understand that Canada’s colleges, cégeps, institutions, and polytechnics play a critical role in preparing workers for a changing economy. C2R2 committed to working with the government and parliamentarians of all political stripes to ensure we prepare our workforce for the employment opportunities that are emerging in every region of our country, and that we fully benefit from the transition to a low-carbon economy.

We are seeking the support of parliamentarians to support C2R2’s efforts in ensuring we recognize the opportunity C2R2 provides to prepare our workforce, and that it receives the support required for success.

The goals the federal government have set are ambitious, but we have to be ambitious to succeed and ensure a strong, resilient economic recovery for Canada. Canadian colleges have always risen to the challenge of ensuring that Canadian workers are trained for the jobs of tomorrow. We stand ready to get that job done once again.

Interested in meeting with C2R2 to learn more and how you can support the coalition? Contact Paul Armstrong, C2R2 Steering Group Co-Chair at [email protected] to arrange a meeting.

Ron J. McKerlie is Chair of Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery and President of Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario.

Building produced more energy to than it consumed in 2021
 

The Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation at Mohawk College retained its zero-carbon building (ZCB) performance certification with the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) in 2021, producing more electricity than it used.

BH_Mohawk_2055The college recently received confirmation that Canada’s first zero carbon dually certified building surpassed the required building performance standards for a third consecutive year. In 2018, CaGBC awarded The Joyce Centre its Zero Carbon Building – Design certification, recognizing the building was designed according to zero carbon building requirements. In 2019, CaGBC first verified that the building met the Zero Carbon Building – Performance Standard. This announcement confirms that The Joyce Centre has achieved zero carbon emissions again in its third year of operation.

Over the past three years, The Joyce Centre has exemplified sustainable building operation for students, employees, community and industry partners. While only labs were active during the pandemic, reducing occupancy and energy demands last year, the performance of this impressive building remains remarkable. Our Facility Services team has continued to excel in the ongoing maintenance, calibration and monitoring of this impressive facility.

Ron McKerlie, President and CEO
Mohawk College

In 2021, The Joyce Centre generated 665,582 kWh of electricity and used 376,853 kWh, creating a surplus of 288,729 kWh. Of the energy used by the building last year, 236,066 kWh was provided by the municipal power grid and, over that same period, 524,795 kWh of green energy was used by other facilities on the college campus. The Energy Use Intensity (EUI) for The Joyce Centre during this period was 42 kWh/square metre, which is 85% lower than the Canadian national median EUI value for college/university facilities, as published by Energy Star. 

As the largest net zero institutional building in Canada, The Joyce Centre is a living lab for students, offering them hands-on access to the monitoring and operations of a ZCB-certified building. Students are able to explore building information modeling, a process of gathering and grouping data from the building’s performance to understand and optimize the design and maintenance during the lifetime of the building.

The design and performance of The Joyce Centre reinforces Mohawk College’s commitment to supporting a strong culture of environmental responsibility and to be a leader in environmental sustainability.

The ZCB-Performance Standard verifies that buildings achieve Zero Carbon operations year after year. Verification is required annually.

In 2019, RRC Polytech’s Vehicle Technology & Energy Centre (VTEC) hosted the inaugural Vehicle Technology Conference. This past December 7 and 8, 2021, VTEC collaborated with industry partner, Vehicle Technology Centre Inc. (VTC), to host the Heavy Vehicle and Equipment Technology Conference at the Victoria Inn & Convention Centre, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The conference showcased heavy vehicle and tech expertise in the province and aimed to connect key industry players and academic institutions. The overarching goal of the conference is to support Manitoba’s position as a hub for emerging vehicle technology and innovation, through creating new connections and cross collaborations.

“Manitoba is home to a unique concentration of heavy vehicle and equipment manufacturers. We are home to North America’s largest city and highway bus manufacturer, Canada’s only four-wheel drive tractor manufacturer, the country’s largest manufacturers of fire trucks, agricultural equipment, and motorhomes. The province also has a host of businesses manufacturing truck trailers, airport runway cleaning equipment, electric municipal vehicles as well as a supply and academic community that supports our growth,” said Ron Vanderwees, President of VTC, a non-for-profit organization that helps accelerate growth and technology adoption of the local heavy vehicle and equipment cluster.

“Many of us are on a similar technology path and the Conference is a platform to informally share knowledge or formally collaborate to help our cluster stay ahead of the curve and be leaders amongst world-wide competition.”

“RRC Polytech aims to drive growth in Manitoba’s heavy vehicle and equipment cluster by working alongside industry partners to solve real-world challenges. Through applied research projects, we continue to build our capabilities with zero-emission vehicle technology and provide invaluable work-integrated experience for our students, the next generation of innovators,” said Jojo Delos Reyes, Research Program Manager, VTEC.

Guests joined the hybrid event in person and virtually through Zoom for forward-thinking sessions from local subject matter experts and presenters joining from across North America. The conference gave a look into “what’s next” in the industry and focused on top-of-mind areas, including hydrogen fuel cell technology, smart, connected and autonomous vehicles, augmented reality to support production, and much more.

Paul Soubry, President and CEO of NFI Group gave the keynote presentation, “Maintaining Product Segment Leadership in Markets with Rapidly Evolving Technology,” followed by a fireside chat with RRC Polytech President and CEO, Fred Meier.

On the second day of the conference, John Gunter, President and CEO, and Tye Noble, Lead Engineer, of Frontiers North Adventures, shared their experiences from the Electric Vehicle (EV) Tundra Buggy prototype, a collaborative electrification project with VTC, VTEC and support from the Government of Manitoba’s Conservation and Climate Fund.

Select presentations from the conference are available to view on vtci.ca under the “Webinars & Technical Papers” section.

Partners launch resilient housing solutions project to assist with rebuild of fire-ravaged Lytton, B.C. region.

Kanaka Bar Indian Band, SAIT, Okanagan College, Foresight Canada and Seko Construction have partnered to harness innovation to provide options for the rebuild of a fire-ravaged region in British Columbia.

Also known as « T’eqt »aqtn’mux » or « the crossing place people,” the Kanaka Bar Indian Band is one of 15 Indigenous communities that make up the Nlaka’pamux Nation. For more than 7000 years, Kanaka’s Traditional Territory — located 14 kilometers south of Lytton in the Fraser Canyon region — sustained its people.

SAIT and Patrick Michell, Chief of the Kanaka Bar Indian Band, have entered into an agreement to launch a pilot project focused on climate-resilient housing options for evacuees who lost their homes in the June 30, 2021 Lytton, B.C. wildfire. The project is expected to reveal sustainable new building and retrofitting solutions not only for Kanaka Bar’s members, Lytton residents and the surrounding region, but also all Canadians looking to make their homes resilient to ever-increasing extreme weather events. 

“We are delighted to bring together leaders in applied research and innovation to tackle the urgent need to build back our region. We are combining the power of our community with the latest building practices to ensure new housing and its supporting systems, as well as older buildings in the region, are made sustainable and climate resilient,” says Chief Patrick Michell.

Gathering together

The Kanaka Bar Resilient Housing Solutions project is a community-led and community-driven initiative. The project will see SAIT leading a collaborative team with participants from Okanagan CollegeForesight Canada and Seko Construction over 10 months to create foundational options for rebuilding in the Lytton region.

The applied research project leverages the expertise and reach of the team to issue an immediate call for commercially-approved Canadian housing building materials, technology providers and product options. The pilot project will include the design and build of four to eight homes to test and validate material properties, climate resiliency, energy performance and affordability. The goal is to develop a suite of viable options for the region, and other communities, throughout medium and long-term rebuilding activities.

This agreement showcases the leadership of Kanaka Bar and their desire to help the greater Lytton region and beyond. The project brings together leading polytechnic institutions from western Canada and Foresight, Canada’s cleantech accelerator, to create an unbiased, multi-disciplinary team of experts that will assess the long-term needs of the greater region and develop a plan for the future. The vision is to build more resilient structures and address future climate impacts with meaningful solutions.

The Kanaka Bar Resilient Housing Solutions project will be a truly collaborative effort. It will bring together communities, institutions and innovative solution providers. This will impact all Canadians, especially for our hardest hit neighbours in B.C., through public sharing of the processes and innovations used in the project.

Mark Butler SAIT Interim Vice President Corporate Development, Applied Research and International

Red River College Polytechnic’s (RRC Polytech) Building Efficiency Technology Access Centre (BETAC) is providing a breath of fresh air these days. Using high-powered fans and specialized equipment, researchers are pressurizing and depressurizing buildings of all sizes to find out where they leak, and help builders, engineers and property owners meet rising standards of energy efficiency.

The value of whole building air tightness tests like these have long been recognized for residential properties. New codes, policies and regulations may soon pump up demand for testing on commercial buildings, too – and so far, BETAC is the only organization with the skills, expertise and equipment to offer them in Manitoba.

“We’re looking forward to playing a greater role helping our community make buildings that are more durable and sustainable to operate, especially as we adapt to a future that places higher premiums on energy efficiency,” says Rob Spewak, BETAC’s business development manager.

Breathing New Life Into Old Buildings

The need for a more energy-efficient building stock is especially acute in Winnipeg, which boasts a relatively high proportion of heritage buildings. In September, for instance, BETAC completed an air tightness test at Gordon Bell High School, whose building features walls and mechanical systems are more than 50 years old. The results will provide insights into the most cost-effective measures for reducing energy usage when Gordon Bell undergoes an upcoming renovation.

Chris Buzunis, the Province of Manitoba’s Senior Energy Engineer and project manager for the Gordon Bell retrofit, says BETAC’s pre- and post-renovation air tightness testing has proven valuable on many projects like this.

“It helps identify problem areas to address at the start of a project and has also been a fantastic quality control tool when construction is complete. We have identified many deficiencies that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.”

BETAC will perform a post-renovation test on the school to validate the airtightness improvements and identify any problem areas before the building goes back into service. The goal of the renovation is to reduce energy costs by 50 per cent.

“Gordon Bell isn’t that different from many other schools in our city,” says Spewak, “so what we can measure and learn from here will help us devise guides to help other schools retrofit their building envelopes.”

It isn’t just schools BETAC hopes to help, he adds.

“Our goal in the next few years is to reach out to more private sector partners to show them what is achievable with a tighter building envelope. For one thing, the knowledge we provide leads to better decision-making. It’s a simple equation of investing now to save later.”

Putting Your Building to the Test

Buildings that leak air cost more to heat and maintain. Up to 40 per cent of the cost of heating can come from air leakage, “so it absolutely impacts the bottom line.”

But in cold-climate regions, a leaky building envelope can result in up to six months of structural freezing and thawing, rusting metal, rotting wood, and expanding cracks, compromising the building’s durability as well. Even in warmer climates, leakage allows moisture-laden air to infiltrate or exfiltrate a building envelope. Air tightness can also affect noise levels and the comfort of a building’s occupants.

“Sealing the leaks may save you money and extend your building’s lifespan,” says Spewak. “But first you have to find the leaks, which often turn up in unexpected places you can’t find just by looking.”

BETAC offers a variety of non-destructive tests that target specific building sizes and challenges. The process usually starts with a walkthrough to assess door locations, HVAC intake and exhaust grills, power supply, and whether the building can be isolated.

During the test itself, powerful fans pressurize and depressurize the building, while equipment measures how much air is moved into or out of the building and tracks the corresponding pressure difference across the building enclosure. 

The results of the envelop test speak to the general durability of the building, and the continuity and performance of the air barrier. A second set of tests, conducted with all intentional openings left open, measures the energy performance of the building more directly. At this stage, testers may deploy smoke pencils and infrared thermography cameras to identify specific air leakage pathways.

All together, these tests can take anywhere from several hours to three days, depending on the size and complexity of the building. The results deliver quantifiable data that can help owners of existing buildings locate problem areas and determine the costs and benefits of a retrofit. For new buildings, a final air tightness test can complement air leakage testing performed throughout construction.

A Track Record of Success

BETAC has been researching air tightness and methods of testing it since a 2012 pilot project, which means the partners who turn to BETAC for air tightness testing engage some of the province’s leading expertise in the field.

Between 2012 and 2014, with the support of Manitoba Hydro and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, a total of 26 commercial buildings in Manitoba were tested for airtightness.

BETAC has also completed air testing research projects for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and, more recently, for Fort Whyte Alive, to measure the air tightness of an interpretive centre before and after a retrofit.

This same air tightness testing service used at Gordon Bell High School was also recently completed on the BMO Bank of Montreal building in downtown Winnipeg. BETAC plans on performing this testing for Manitou a bi Bii Daziigae (formerly known as the Innovation Centre project) soon.

Spewak says demand for tests like these will only increase as more cities and governments incorporate air tightness and energy efficiency into their building codes and green mandates. In addition to air leak testing, BETAC has committed to ongoing public outreach efforts to share the findings of its research. The results of BETAC’s work will inform the Province of Manitoba’s Green Building Policy and low carbon initiatives.

Students interested in sustainable water resource management will have the chance to hone their craft in a new $1-million Water and Wastewater Pilot Scale Treatment Lab on SAIT’s main campus.

The lab contains the same state-of-the-art equipment found in an operational water treatment facility — scaled down for learning purposes. “Each unit simulates a different process used in domestic or industrial water treatment,” says Pablo Pina, Academic Chair of Sustainability, MacPhail School of Energy (MacPhail).

Domestic processes treat both the water we drink and the wastewater we produce in a municipality, whereas industrial processes prepare water for use in petrochemical plants, pulp and paper or oil and gas extraction. Exposure to both in the lab will give students a unique advantage come graduation.

Water is an essential component to our economy and we need people who know how to manage it.

Pablo Pina, Academic Chair of Sustainability
MacPhail School of Energy

Three years in the making, the lab was made possible thanks to an ongoing partnership with Spartan Controls and an anonymous donation to MacPhail in support of environmental sustainability.

Additionally, SAIT’s Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) Water Research and Innovation area in the Centre for Energy Research in Clean Unconventional Technology Solutions — in collaboration with MacPhail — used funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Applied Research Fund to develop the lab’s unique industrial water and wastewater treatment train, empowering the workforce of tomorrow.

Training that trickles down to industry

A post-secondary training facility unlike any other in southern Alberta, the new lab will empower students with hands-on, industry-ready training in the Water and Wastewater Treatment OperationsIntegrated Water Management and Environmental Technology programs. Training on the industrial water treatment train will further benefit students enrolled in Bachelor of Applied Technology Petroleum EngineeringChemical Engineering Technology and Chemical Laboratory Technology.

Students will start working in the lab during the Winter 2022 term under the guidance of trained instructors, gaining firsthand experience with water treatment equipment operation, process timing and troubleshooting. They’ll also learn what to look for during the treatment process.

“Students will have the opportunity to harness their skills and learning in an applied setting, working with the same equipment or processes they’ll use in the industry,” says Pina. “It’s an exciting new way to deliver training.”

The equipment — arguably the best in the world — was sourced from the other side of it, hopping the pond all the way from a vendor in France.

Clean water, cleaner energy

Developing talent in water has sustainable implications across many industries, including energy. “When people think about energy, they tend to think oil and gas, but it’s way more than that,” says Pina. “Building an understanding of water use in energy will help drive sustainable innovation and new technologies in water resource management.”

Pina notes that future-focused investments like the water treatment lab will help SAIT in its mission to build a better world. “This lab is a great way for SAIT to demonstrate its commitment towards environmental sustainability in the area of water resource management,” says Pina.

As the demand for electrical energy increases, so does the need to find appropriate energy storage solutions. An innovative research project using a vanadium redox battery system could be an answer — and it’s one of the winners of the City of Calgary’s inaugural Mayor’s Innovation Challenge.

Developed by the Centre for Energy Research in Clean Unconventional Technology Solutions (CERCUTS) — one of seven Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) research areas at SAIT — the ARIS Battery Storage project demonstrates the potential of a breakthrough technology to address issues related to renewable power intermittency, energy grid stabilization and climate resiliency.

“Applied research is key to accelerating technology and innovation,” says Trish Josephs, Director of ARIS. “It helps reduce risk and develop technology from early prototypes to commercialization. It also introduces and matches technology solutions from new startups with large enterprises across industries.”

The project was led by Marlon Norona, a CERCUTS team member and recent grad from SAIT’s MacPhail School of Energy, and Matthieu Trudell, a summer intern from Western University in Ontario.

The research team, which also includes Dr. Vita Martez and Matt La Prairie, have already completed a prototype to generate electricity from vanadium and are looking to scale up to a pilot project. The research was funded by the Clean Technologies segment of NSERC’s Industrial Research Chair program at SAIT led by Martez.

“This system could lead the way to a net-zero energy solution,” says Trudell. “The vanadium mined from the Athabasca tailings ponds and from mines across Canada for use in the battery system could be a new revenue stream for the province, it could create jobs for Albertans while reducing the environmental impact of the energy sector.”

Generating opportunity

Launched in May 2021, the inaugural Mayor’s Innovation Challenge asked: How might we advance innovative energy solutions on the path to net zero emissions in order to achieve economic, social and environmental resilience? 

The City received more than 130 submissions in response and the field was narrowed to nine finalists across three streams in the spring.  

ARIS Battery Storage was named the winner in the Pre-Commercial/Startup stream after a virtual pitch session last week. The panel of judges included Heather Campbell, the Executive Director for Clean Technology at Alberta Innovates, Brad Zumwalt, a leader and investor in the Calgary technology sector, and Mayor Naheed Nenshi.  

“Choosing winners was not an easy task,” says Mayor Nenshi. “The enthusiasm of all of the teams, and their solutions to our planet’s energy issues were very compelling. Ultimately, the judges felt that these submissions were the ones that would most benefit from the opportunities offered by the Challenge.”

Winners will have the opportunity to work more closely with the City of Calgary and/or ENMAX to build on their idea or innovation, be mentored by a Fellow from Energy Futures Lab (EFL), and meet with senior officials at Prairies Economic Development (PrairiesCAN).

Advancing innovative energy solutions

“Electricity demand in Canada is growing at an annual rate of two per cent and is expected to increase, » says Norona. “Based on our research, ARIS Battery Storage has the potential to provide 24/7 power reliability at a lower price tag than other battery solutions, including lithium.”

Unlike conventional batteries, ARIS Battery Storage uses a single energy source, vanadium. Vanadium allows power to be accepted and stored as chemical energy, which can then be discharged as electricity through a redox reaction. It also has a 25-year lifespan and is recyclable.

“We’re very excited to partner with the City and ENMAX on future applications for this technology,” says Josephs. “We gratefully acknowledge the mentorship received from Platform Calgary, ENMAX, EFL and Erin Chrusch from the Mayor’s Office.”

Winnipeg, MB – Today Frontiers North Adventures (Frontiers North) and Red River College (RRC) unveiled a new zero-emission vehicle technology initiative. The Electric Vehicle Tundra Buggy® (EV Tundra Buggy) is a collaborative, proof-of-concept project that oversaw the conversion of a Tundra Buggy in Frontier North’s touring fleet from diesel-powered to battery electric.

The EV Tundra Buggy was made possible through the province’s new Conservation and Climate Fund, and the Vehicle Technology Centre (VTCI) – a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Manitoba’s heavy vehicle manufacturing sector – and in-kind support and technical services from RRC’s Vehicle Technology & Energy Centre (VTEC).

The Manitoba government is committed to supporting environmental projects like the EV Tundra Buggy that beautifully blends our commitment to environmental sustainability, green energy and the entrepreneurial spirit of our province.

Sarah Guillemard
Conservation and Climate Minister

“We remain committed to making Manitoba the cleanest, greenest, most climate-resilient province in the country and projects like this can help make that happen.”

The project’s goal of reducing environmental impact and protecting Manitoba’s Sub-Arctic landscape will help to create a culture of sustainable tourism in one of the province’s top year-round destinations, Churchill, Manitoba.

“Our company’s purpose is all about stewardship, and positively contributing to our communities and environments,” said John Gunter, President and CEO of Frontiers North.

“By starting the conversion of our fleet with this first EV Tundra Buggy, Frontiers North is taking meaningful steps towards reducing our GHG emissions and creating new clean tech jobs. We are also excited to provide our touring guests a silent EV Tundra Buggy experience amongst wild polar bears and beneath the northern lights. For their support of this project we thank Manitoba, Vehicle Technology Centre Inc. and Red River College.”

The EV Tundra Buggy project builds upon research, testing, and demonstration VTEC has undertaken for the shift of transit buses to electric. The battery used in the buggy is repurposed (re-used) from an e-bus. By tapping into VTEC’s in-house technical expertise and using a repurposed e-bus battery, Frontiers North was able to confirm their vision of shifting from diesel to electric was feasible.

“The EV Tundra Buggy project is a quintessential made-in-Manitoba story – it has links to conservation, tourism, and environmental stewardship, highlighting the ability of industry partnerships to create positive impact in Manitoba, for Manitobans, through reducing environmental impact and benefitting our local economy,” said Fred Meier, President and CEO, Red River College.

“The opportunity to assist Frontiers North and project partners with testing and validating the Tundra Buggy conversion to battery electric, meant leveraging the expertise of our VTEC researchers, engineers and technicians. While working on an applied research project, it’s as much as an opportunity for us to help provide knowledge and training to our industry partners, as it’s an opportunity for our researchers and students to learn and grow our in-house capabilities to further support innovation in Manitoba.”

Frontiers North, one of Canada’s top three sustainable tourism operators, plans to move forward with their vision of shifting their Tundra Buggy fleet to electric vehicles, furthering their commitment to sustainability within the province.

In addition to the primary goal of reducing environmental impact, another key objective of the conversion to electric, is to reduce sound pollution. While polar bears are easily habituated to the presence and sounds of the diesel-powered buggies, they generate sound that can carry far distances over the otherwise quiet tundra.

Moreover, the EV Tundra Buggy project aligns with Red River College’s commitment to supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy, as a member of the Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery (C2R2).

Frontiers North Adventures hosts guests primarily in Churchill, Manitoba to dine beneath the northern lights, sing alongside beluga whales and lock eyes with wild polar bears. A certified B Corporation® and leader in sustainable travel since 1987, they are stewards of the resources made available to them and passionately share their values with their guests. They are the official Conservation Journey® and Tundra Buggy® people. Learn more at frontiersnorth.com

Red River College’s Vehicle Technology & Energy Center (VTEC) drives innovation through supporting Manitoba’s heavy vehicle industry sector, helping the province grow as a major transportation hub. Home to two facilities unique to Western Canada: MotiveLab™ and the Vehicle Technology & Research Centre (VTRC), VTEC provides applied research, technical, and training services. VTEC is a leader in sustainable vehicle technologies, focusing on the electrification of vehicles and alternative fuel sources. Learn more at rrc.ca/vtec

It’s no secret extensive time, research and resources went into building  » The Confluence » — a home west of Cochrane, Alberta aiming to achieve the world’s highest standard in sustainable building.

In partnership with the Molenaar family and homebuilder  Woodpecker European Timber Framing, SAIT’s Green Building Technologies team supported construction of the sustainable dwelling, which also has a positive impact on the health of its occupants.

A home that’s good for you and the environment? Who doesn’t want that?

The good news is you can emulate some aspects of “The Confluence.”

Here are some easy, affordable ways to transform your space for the better from EcoCanada’s 2020 EcoImpact Top Environmental Professional and SAIT’s principal investigator on “The Confluence,” Tracey Chala.

1. Breathe cleaner air

Did you know Canadians spend more than 90% of their time indoors? This may not come as a surprise —chances are you’ve spent a lot of time at home these past 18 months.

Breathe easy (literally) by taking measures to improve the indoor air quality of your home.

How “The Confluence” did it:

The ingredients in every product used on the project were identified and vetted against a list of toxic chemicals to ensure non-harmful products were installed in the home. Indoor air quality (including levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides (NO x), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter) will be monitored for a year to show the impact of avoiding harmful ingredients such as benzene, naphthalene and formaldehyde.

How you can do it:

VOCs are chemicals that off-gas toxins into the air and can lead to short and long-term health issues. If you’re building or renovating, select building products (such as paints, sealants and adhesives) that are labelled as containing low or no VOCs. Look for non-toxic cleaning products with a third-party environmental certification. And here’s an easy one — place floor mats at all exterior entrances and take off your shoes inside. You’ll reduce the debris and contaminants tracked indoors.

2. Choose “dark sky” outdoor lighting

If you’ve never given much thought to your outdoor nighttime lighting situation, now’s a great time.

“If bulbs are too bright or light fixtures point up and out, the artificial light could adversely affect local animals’ reproduction, nourishment, migration patterns, sleep and protection from predators,” says Chala.

“It’s best to choose fixtures that minimize excessive brightness, shine light only on areas that need it and don’t contribute to light pollution.”

In just a few easy steps, you can save the local ecosystem from the negative impacts of light pollution — while improving your view of the stars and northern lights.

How “The Confluence” did it:

Outdoor lighting fixtures were installed beneath the home’s roof overhang to prevent light from illuminating the sky. The fixtures use low-lumen, warm-coloured bulbs and the family only uses outdoor lighting when needed.

How you can do it:

Look for third-party verified labels on light fixtures (such as “IDA Approved — Dark Sky Friendly”), or choose fixtures that only shine down. Install fixtures under overhangs where possible and select warm-coloured bulbs (below 3000 Kelvins) that have low lumens.

3. Bring the outdoors in

Incorporating nature into the design of your home not only looks good — it feels good and it’s good for you.

“Biophilic design integrates architectural elements that focus on forming a stronger connection to nature,” says Chala. “This approach has been shown to reduce stress, improve cognitive function and creativity, and even expedite healing.”

How “The Confluence” did it:

The house design included many natural materials and features emulating nature. Examples include exposed, rhythmic beams that show the patina of sap drips, shower tiles with a texture that mimics sand dunes, a peaked window resembling a mountain top and light sconces that radiate shadows across the ceiling much like sun rays.

How you can do it:

Enrich your décor while deepening your connection with the world around you:

  • Use wallpaper featuring natural elements, such as leaves, mountains or clouds.
  • Install a pebble shower floor or river stone bath mat.
  • Look for live edge furniture or countertops, where the natural edge of the wood is incorporated into the design of the piece.

4. Use salvaged materials

Whether renovating or furniture shopping, make second-hand products your first choice. The environment — and your wallet — will thank you.

“Incorporating salvaged, surplus or used products into your home saves landfill space, reduces the need for raw materials and costs a fraction of the price of a new product,” says Chala. “It also brings character and originality into your home.”

How “The Confluence” did it:

The homeowners incorporated over 50 salvaged products into their design. They obtained fir doors from a condo renovation, an entire kitchen from a showroom display, lighting from Habitat for Humanity and a shower head from Home Reno Heaven, to name a few.

How you can do it:

Check out your online classifieds, local thrift stores and garage sales for great deals on used products.

5. Help manage the internal temperature

An effective way to reduce your environmental footprint is to reduce your use of heating and air conditioning.

Depending on the geography, structure and layout of your home, this may be trickier to accomplish. But there are some ways to help keep your home naturally cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

How “The Confluence” did it:

The home was designed to maximize passive solar energy, with most windows facing south, a few facing east and west, and none facing north. The high-performance walls are about 9” thick with triple pane windows, providing superior insulating properties year-round.

How you can do it:

Change out old door sweeps and weather stripping on exterior doors and close curtains and blinds at the hottest and coldest times of day. Plant deciduous trees on the south side of your home to provide cool shade in the summer and warm sunshine in the winter. If you’re new to gardening, be sure to check out tips and tricks for creating an eco-friendly outdoor space.  

Ready to go green?

Chala and the entire GBT team are eager to research and create innovative projects that support building a greener world.  Learn more about what they do, follow them on  Twitter and  get connected.

Be sure to check out  » The Confluence »  for the ultimate enviro-inspo.

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