Learning to build green.

The Zero Energy/Emissions Buildings Learning Centre provides training on zero-energy building techniques for new construction and retrofits – skills needed now more than ever.

Alex Hebert jokes that when he used to attend events, he would set up his booth as far away from the flashy, tech-forward exhibits as possible. “We’re not shiny like a Tesla,” he says. But when it comes to reducing the impact of buildings on our climate and achieving government – and Vancity – emission reduction targets, his work plays an important role.

Alex oversees BCIT’s Zero Energy/Emissions Buildings Learning Centre (ZEBLC), which provides training on zero-energy building techniques for new construction and retrofits. The building sector is Canada’s third highest source of emissions. The skills students acquire with ZEBLC are needed now more than ever.

Since opening in 2018 with Vancity support, the ZEB Learning Centre has trained more than 1,900 students from across BC. Students like Carrigan Tallio from the Nuxalk Nation in Bella Coola.

If I didn’t have this training, I wouldn’t have known what’s possible in terms of passive, green buildings.

Carrigan is one of five Indigenous students who came together to renovate a cabin at Cheakamus Centre as part of their training before COVID-19 limited in-person learning. The Nuxalk Housing Manager says the experience “opened my eyes to what we can achieve as a community.”

As her community of Bella Coola continues to address the housing challenges taking place on many reserves, Carrigan says that clean energy, and what she learned during the course, will play a crucial part. “If I didn’t have this training, I wouldn’t have known what’s possible in terms of passive, green buildings,” she says. “It gave me a good idea of where we need to be going and how to get there.”

Alex says that Vancity’s support has been key to delivering on ZEBLC’s goals. Vancity has provided $225,000 over three years, but he says the knowledge sharing has been just as valuable. Supporting programs like ZEBLC will also help Vancity become net zero by 2040. A significant part of Vancity’s business activity emissions comes from our mortgage portfolio.

And, says Alex, we can look forward to living better. Green buildings are about more than tackling climate change, they improve quality of life, too. “Investing in your walls means you’re getting something green, but also comfortable and resilient.” 

Creating the circular economy.