Wood Innovation Research lab officially opened

Elder Darlene McIntosh, (left) Engineering student Alison Conroy, UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks, Engineering Associate Professor Dr. Thomas Tannert, Advanced Education Skills and Training Minister Hon. Melanie Mark and Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall celebrate the opening of the Wood Innovation Research Lab.
Elder Darlene McIntosh, (left) Engineering student Alison Conroy, UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks, Engineering Associate Professor Dr. Thomas Tannert, Advanced Education Skills and Training Minister Hon. Melanie Mark and Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall celebrate the opening of the Wood Innovation Research Lab.

The Wood Innovation Research Laboratory is now open.

Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark officially opened the University of Northern B.C. facility Tuesday.

“The wood innovation research lab is great news for students and researchers at UNBC, who now have access to state-of-the art facilities and equipment,” she said. “Their innovation and research will contribute to our thriving forestry sector, helping us main

Elder Darlene McIntosh, (left) Engineering student Alison Conroy, UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks, Engineering Associate Professor Dr. Thomas Tannert, Advanced Education Skills and Training Minister Hon. Melanie Mark and Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall celebrate the opening of the Wood Innovation Research Lab.
Elder Darlene McIntosh, (left) Engineering student Alison Conroy, UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks, Engineering Associate Professor Dr. Thomas Tannert, Advanced Education Skills and Training Minister Hon. Melanie Mark and Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall celebrate the opening of the Wood Innovation Research Lab.

tain B.C.’s position as a world leader in wood construction, products and design.”

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.

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 province contributed $3.4 million toward the $5.3-million project and Ottawa’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund provided the additional $1.9 million.

“Like the Wood Innovation and Design Centre before it, the Wood Innovation Research Lab is a remarkable addition to downtown, and really represents what’s new and exciting in Prince George,” said Mayor Lyn Hall. “Beyond that, and perhaps even more importantly, the work that goes on inside of this new facility will attract students to our community, add to our local knowledge in forest products and help to realize our economic development aspirations with regards to innovation in forest products.”

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.

“The Wood Innovation Research Lab is a phenomenal facility that will not only strengthen UNBC’s research culture in engineering and facilitate opportunities to discover creative new uses for wood in sustainable design, it also demonstrates how an industrial building in the North can be built to passive house standards,” said UNBC president Dr. Daniel Weeks. “This new lab is a magnificent addition to UNBC’s presence in downtown Prince George, and the results of the research will have a significant impact across our region and around the world.”

In January, 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.

“The construction of the Wood Engineering Research Laboratory next door to our classroom allowed myself, and the other students, a first-hand glimpse into the construction of a building that employed the very principles of what we were learning every day,” said Alison Conroy, UNBC master of engineering graduate.  My research helped prepare me for my career by introducing me to local agencies and companies who had similar interest and needs for building science professionals, due to growing market and regulatory demand for high-performance buildings.”