Gift launches a new international green building course

York University has launched an international summer course in green building design in cooperation with the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC). The official launch was held at the Earth Rangers Centre at the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority’s (TRCA) Living City Campus, at the Kortright Centre for Conservation in Woodbridge on Monday, June 22.

Design for Sustainability in the Built Environment: Interactive Workshop, is a three-week pilot course, running from June 22 to July 10. Third- and fourth-year undergraduate students from a variety of disciplines from Canada and around the world are enrolled in the course, which features an international and interdisciplinary approach and reflects a growing understanding that environmental problems are complex and require thinking that transcends all political borders.

Left: From left, York University President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri; Brian Denney, chief administrative officer of TRCA; Ontario Minister of Natural Resources Donna Cansfield; Peter Kendall, executive director of the Earth Rangers Centre; and Paul Shervill, vice-president of Conservation, Ontario Power Authority. They were present at the reception marking the launch of the Design for Sustainability in the Built Environment

The course is part of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies and was created in conjunction with the Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS) and York International. The WorldGBC is a union of national green building councils aiming to accelerate the transformation from traditional, inefficient building practices to new generation high-performance buildings. “By bringing together the next generation of green leaders from a variety of disciplines and from around the world, we are working to create a new language for green design; one that is open, inclusive and global in scope,” said Andrew Bowerbank, executive director of WorldGBC.

The green building design course was made possible thanks to financial support of $101,000 from the Ontario Power Authority’s Conservation Fund. “We are delighted to support this course in green building design, helping to provide a new generation with the skills to lead Ontario to a greener, more energy-efficient future,” said Bryan Young, manager of Conservation & Technology Development Funds at the Ontario Power Authority (OPA). Since 2005, the OPA’s Conservation Fund has provided more than $10 million in funding to more than 70 innovative electricity conservation initiatives, acting as test cases for more broadly based conservation programs and building market capability for the uptake of conservation programs in Ontario.

Right: From left: Bryan Young; Sandy Tieman, chief development officer, Faculties of Education and Environmental Studies, York University Foundation; and green design course director Arlene Gould, at the launch event

The Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation, Earth Rangers, PowerStream, TRCA and the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities have also generously supported the course.

The green design building course has attracted worldwide interest with students registered from Japan, India, Brazil, Mexico and Costa Rica, as well as from the Greater Toronto Area. Students participating in the course represent a diverse array of interests, which include visual arts, mechanical engineering, biology, design, architecture and environmental studies.

Some of the program’s classes will be held at the Earth Rangers Centre, a facility that has earned the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, which indicates its exceptional green building design.  

Above: Students from across Canada and around the world are enrolled in the course. From left, students from Monterrey Institute of Technology, Mexico; Jadavpur University, India; University of São Paulo, Brazil; National University of Costa Rica; Waseda University, Japan; Waterloo University; and York University

Students in the intensive three-week workshop are exploring themes related to sustainable building design including: the historical and cultural perspective, the business and policy case, green building rating systems, the ecology of green building and next generation opportunities for creating regenerative buildings. “We’re not training architects,” explained course director Arlene Gould. “We want to inspire new leaders that will be aware of the wide range of issues involved, so they can go out into the world and be champions for green buildings.”

The course will culminate in a “charrette”, which Gould describes as a concentrated brainstorming session in which all the stakeholders in a design project come together to work out their issues. The focus in this case will be the design of a new building for York’s Las Nubes Centre for Neotropical Conservation and Research in Costa Rica.

Creation of this green design course falls within York University’s priority to invest in pioneering programs and research – known as Innovate50 – and is supported by York to the Power of 50, York’s 50th anniversary fundraising campaign. York to the Power of 50 is now more than $185 million toward its $200-million goal. 

More about the World Green Building Council

The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) is a union of national councils whose mission is to accelerate the transformation of the global built environment towards sustainability. Current member Green Building Councils (GBCs) represent over 50 per cent of global construction activity, and touch more than 10,000 companies and organizations worldwide. GBCs are consensus-based, not-for-profit organizations that are highly effective at engaging leaders across sectors to transform the built environment. For more information, visit the WorldGBC Web site.