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The rise of green building products and technology

September 07, 2017

Structural wood beam test.

Over the next decade, stricter environmental regulations and the rising demand for higher standards in building construction are expected to drive the development of green building products and technologies.

With the slowing of non-renewables in the province and $21.9 billion in federal spending allocated to green infrastructure over the next year, Alberta industries may find themselves in a unique position to advance the production of green building materials. Expertise in extreme climate conditions and a workforce capable of implementing innovative solutions are just two examples of the Alberta advantage.

In response to these growing market pressures, product manufacturers and other segments of the green building industry are going to need access to specialized knowledge, equipment and facilities to stay competitive. Green Building Technologies (GBT) researchers at SAIT are ready for the boom.

The GBT research division at SAIT is a leader in green building materials product development, prototyping and testing.

Research Associate and General Manager, David Silburn, says the new GBT Lab and Demonstration Centre is equipped to meet the needs of a burgeoning green building industry. The facility includes new structural testing jigs for new building product performance measurement, lifecycle testing for a wall, roof, cladding and building components, as well as innovative climate-controlled testing bays, hot plates and guarded chambers.

"We are excited about the opportunity to integrate student learning with material science testing to aid in assisting Western Canadian business with an innovative product," Silburn says. "Alberta's entrepreneurs surprise us with new types of framing materials, sheathing board, masonry blocks and interior panels and we are excited to assist in testing and developing these products for the market."

Testing capabilities and standards at the GBT Lab follow ASTM compliance and work at reduced rates in comparison to certification facilities to assist in iterative product development. GBT also partners with industry on the research and development of new green building materials, affordability and accessibility strategies, and training in the use and installation of green building products.

The design and construction of energy efficient building envelopes that can meet net-zero-energy standards will be of particular significance, Silburn says, as the National Energy Code for Buildings (NEBC) moves towards tougher guidelines for energy efficiency.

"Use of individual products in high-performance assemblies requires an understanding of individual component performance in addition to assembly testing," says Silburn. "Our chamber and test bays assist in both controlled lab and in-situ operational assembly performance."

As an applied research institution, the marriage of technical education with industry partnership at SAIT has its perks. The work often comes with access to research grants, and projects completed support the training and development of SAIT's next generation of civil engineering students.

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