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Living Lab project gives trades students a chance to build the home of the future
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Living Lab project gives trades students a chance to build the home of the future

Co-operation between a private developer, a home-builder, the University of British Columbia Okanagan and Okanagan College is going to yield greater insights into how sustainable building technologies can influence our carbon footprint and how we live.

Wilden developer Blenk Development Corp, Authentech Homes, and Okanagan College will be constructing two homes in the popular Wilden community development in Kelowna beginning in 2016 that will be fitted with sensors so that UBC Okanagan researchers can use the homes as a “Living Lab” to explore energy consumption.

One of the homes will be built to current building standards while the other will be built exceeding code requirements (using selected, advanced, energy-efficient components). eger-blenk

Blenk Development Director Karin Eger-Blenk says her company has long had an interest in sustainability. With geothermal heating and cooling already available in Wilden, her company is interested in seeing what else can be added into the mix.

“To make sustainable building practices and increased energy efficiency the norm, we need partners and suppliers who can help make new technologies affordable, even for first-time homebuyers,” says Eger-Blenk. “With the support of the Living Lab, we would like to speed up the progress we’ve already made in our initiative and get closer to a cleaner future.”

Students from the College’s three-year Sustainable Construction Management diploma program will be involved in recommending approved technologies for installation in the homes, while more Okanagan College students, in the Residential Construction Program, will assist the builder in constructing the two homes.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to apply green building principles, technology, and techniques at the forefront of sustainable construction today,” says Hay. “We are very excited about the opportunities for our students to be engaged in applied research and construction, as they will gain truly useful insights into how to minimize environmental impacts and maximize energy efficiency before and after construction.”

UBC’s researchers will be monitoring the energy consumption impact of the green technologies incorporated in the two homes over a three-year period after occupancy. The project has received funding assistance from Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

Wilden also recently announced a donation of $100,000 to the new Trades Training Complex at Okanagan College's Kelowna Campus. Read more about that story here

Read more about the Living Labratory project in the press release.