Oiling the green machine

Boogerd%20%26%20Ryan-225X169.jpgBy Susan Hickman
From SCAN's Print Edition

Jan Boogerd, chair of Algonquin’s Architectural and Water and Wastewater departments, with third-year architectural technology student Melissa Ryan, 20. Photo: Susan Hickman

Algonquin College was in the “green” business long before the current political wave of environmental concern and its latest foray into energy-efficient design and construction reflects its forward-looking vision.

“We started down the green road two or three years ago,” says Morris Uremovich, executive dean of the Faculty of Technology and Trades, which includes the School of Advanced Technology, the School of Transportation and Building Trades and the Heritage Institute in Perth.

“I believe we are ahead of other colleges in graduating students who understand the process of lessening the environmental impact of our buildings and structures, and going out there and doing justice to the needs of the business sector.”

Uremovich also credits the college’s faculty and staff, who have enough previous experience in the business world to know the advantages of addressing environmental issues, as well as the planning and support of the institution’s president and board of governors.

Uremovich speaks in the wake of board approval of a “green architecture” program, to be offered to about two dozen students at Algonquin in the fall of 2007. The three-semester certificate program is geared towards graduates of an architecture technology program, either the three-year advanced diploma program at Algonquin or a similar course at another institution.

The program will focus on using energy efficient, environmentally friendly and reusable materials and will be the only such program in the province, Uremovich believes.

“It took about a year and a half to get the program on board. We did our analysis and saw the long-term move towards environmentally friendly and green construction and thankfully got the support from our leaders at the college.”

Next year, the college also expects to begin building a centre for construction trades and building sciences on its Woodroffe campus to bring together in one facility all of Algonquin’s programs and services that serve the construction industry. The centre is expected to provide a dynamic environment for the development of ideas, concepts and solutions related to the construction industry and to attract learners to a sector facing critical skilled worker shortages.

Expected to open in late 2008 or early 2009, the building, says Uremovich, will be a green facility.
“We recognize that it’s important that our graduates are able to use that kind of technology in the real world.”

Speaks to shortage

Liza Medek, Ottawa architect and chair of the Ottawa Regional Society of Architects, agrees the facility will address the skilled trades shortage in the real world, particularly in Ottawa.

“Based on an environmental scan prepared by Market Research Corporation in October 2006, the 10- to 15-year skilled trades shortage experienced by Ottawa, Pembroke and Perth continues today and is expected to worsen in the future,” Medek wrote in a letter of support for the new centre.

The centre, she says, will be key to recruiting students to what can be a rewarding and exciting career.
“The centre will offer a new way of teaching trades . . . and raise awareness of the benefits of working in the construction industry,” Medek believes. “The innovative approach being proposed will become the new paradigm in construction training and produce a richer more versatile graduate (who) is project ready.

“Indicators point to a healthy market for education and training in the construction trades and building sciences. The centre will have a positive impact for the next 40 years.”

Sustaining smart housing

In 2006, Algonquin Perth%20028-155X148.jpgstudents at the Perth campus advanced housing program developed expertise in green construction when they built a sustainable, affordable “smart home,” that will eventually become part of a complete housing community.

In conjunction with the Town of Perth, and working with a local architect, the 21 or 22 students completed a two-storey home that was “as super-efficient energy-wise as you could get,” according to Dean Uremovich. Window areas facing south were maximized, energy efficient building materials were used and close attention was paid to insulation and air leakage.

“We are certainly headed down the road of increasing energy costs and a focus on lessening emissions of toxins,” Uremovich notes. “We are paying more and more attention to the types of materials going into building and the energy requirements.

“Knowledge in those areas,” he says, “is going to be critical in the next five or ten years in building design.”

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