November 14, 2005

Ottawa supports growth of BC's sustainable building sector

Western Economic Diversification Canada is announcing funding for two leading-edge sustainable building initiatives which will promote the further growth and commercialization of British Columbia's sustainable building sector.

The Vancouver-based EcoSmart Foundation will receive $298,000 to develop the sustainable building technology cluster in British Columbia. The funding will help pay the cost of sending the Sustainable Condo, a life-sized display suite that uses green technology, to the GreenBuild Conference in Atlanta, the largest sustainable building conference in the world. The Sustainable Condo, first unveiled at Globe 2004 and the Pacific National Exhibition, will return to Vancouver for the third United Nations World Urban Forum (WUFIII), June 19-23, 2006.

The EcoSmart Foundation will also implement a series of marketing, networking and commercialization activities to support British Columbia's internationally competitive green building sector. Foundation president and CEO Michael de Spot said the funds "will foster the widespread adoption of green building technologies, which will reduce the ecological footprint of our built environment and improve our economic competitive advantage."

Founded in 1994, EcoSmart is a not-for-profit organization that provides the building industry with innovation and new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a manner that is ecologically and economically smart.

The second initiative will provide the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) $176,000 to expand its Centre for Advancement of Green Roof Technology. This facility will research and test green roofing methods and ultimately develop a commercialization plan for its discoveries. This centre is the first of its kind to offer degree-level training and research in green roofing.

"Green roofing has many benefits," said Dr Maureen Connelly, head of the Centre's research program. "It can lessen the impact on our watershed by reducing water runoff, decrease household energy needs, and reduce "heat islands" in our urban landscape."

More information is available from Michel de Spot President at EcoSmart, 604/689-4021, E-mail michel@ecosmart.ca, Web site www.ecosmart.ca or www.sustainablecondo.com, or from Dr Maureen Connelly at the BCIT, 604/456-8045, Web site www.greenroof.bcit.ca.

The World Urban Forum is a direct outgrowth of the 1976 United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat), also held in Vancouver. The event led to the creation in 1978 of a like-named UN agency dedicated to human settlements.

The number of people attending the World Urban Forum has risen sharply from 1,200 at the first World Urban Forum in Nairobi in 2002, to 4,400 at the second World Urban Forum in Barcelona in 2004.

The Forum is successful because, unlike UN governing bodies, it is not legislative and does not follow the formal rules of procedure that usually govern official UN meetings. As a result, the Forum's working arrangements are deliberately kept simple, open and relatively informal to generate an effective, inclusive debate among all parties involved with urban issues.

Next year's WUFIII in Vancouver will be hosted by the Canadian government. Its main theme will be "Our Future: Sustainable Cities - Turning Ideas into Action."

More information is available on-line at www.unhabitat.org/wuf/2006/.

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