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Students, staff and faculty at Humber College work with B+H Architects to provide the college’s N Building with a new building envelope and other energy-efficiency features. The multidisciplinary collaboration is receiving enthusiastic responses from all partners.

For Cameron Mitchelmore, sustainability is one of the defining issues of our time. "As natural resources and energy are dwindling and growing more expensive, it's important that we use them as efficiently as possible," says the third-year architectural technology student at Humber College, who is applying this concept to a project that involves replacing the building envelope – and improving the energy and environmental performance – of a 100,000-square-foot building on campus.

Together with a student partner, Mr. Mitchelmore drew up plans for the N Building and presented it to the architectural firm responsible for the development. "We were able to investigate this project very thoroughly and discuss the best and most realistic solutions with industry partners," he says.

While Mr. Mitchelmore learned from the industry perspective, Kevin Stelzer, principal of B+H Architects, says he also gained much from the process. "As professionals, we are accustomed to working with very defined parameters. Students often don't have those restrictions and bring a fresh perspective, and then they have to slowly temper their idealism with harder constraints, like budgets and schedules," says Mr. Stelzer.

B+H Architects will be able to count on continuing student support for tackling issues like energy efficiency, project management and more. Mr. Mitchelmore looks forward to the next round, which brings together 10 students from four different programs. "In academic programs, you usually don't get such an opportunity to communicate across the aisle, but in reality, a construction project is a team effort," says Mr. Mitchelmore, who adds that Elizabeth Fenuta, professor of Architectural Technology, deserves much credit for facilitating this integrated learning experience. "I'm very grateful to the faculty at Humber for the extra time and effort that goes into such collaborations."

In addition to strengthening ties with industry, the N Building redesign will also impact the college's environmental and energy performance, says Aman Hehar, Humber's energy efficiency manager.

"We are setting very ambitious goals with our integrated energy master plan, or IEMP: 50 per cent reductions of energy and water use, and a 30 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2034," says Mr. Hehar, who believes such impacts can only be achieved when everyone is on board.

On top of the more obvious solutions, such as procuring sustainable services and opting for green upgrades, the IEMP is planning to engage the Humber community in "energy treasure hunts," he says. "The idea is to look for opportunities to improve our energy performance together. It's a really neat way to engage staff, faculty and students. You'd be surprised how much can be discovered with a fresh set of eyes."

Mr. Hehar views the integration of sustainability into the curriculum as a "big opportunity to teach, to issue research papers, and to document our experiences and results."

For students like Mr. Mitchelmore, projects like the N Building redesign are valuable additions to the portfolio, which can open career opportunities. Greening existing buildings is an emerging sector, says Mr. Stelzer, who adds, "In working with Humber, we meet great students whom we might want to have on our team."

Clean tech internships

The interest in pursuing studies in environmental and clean technology is growing across Canada, and students and graduates of colleges and institutes have the opportunity to further their careers through the CICan Clean Tech Internship Program.

The program matches employers who work in the green and clean technology sectors with talent in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).

“There is a big demand from youths as well as employers who are dedicated to improving environmental and economic outcomes in Canada. The internship program provides an opportunity for graduates to hone their skills in a work setting,” says CICan president and CEO Denise Amyot. “We’ve also seen examples where internships lead to  long-term employment opportunities.”

Ms. Amyot adds that CICan has been able to match over 170 interns with employers across the country over two years.

This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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