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Sustainability

Going green: College launches Energy Advisor program to support sustainable energy efforts

July 13, 2021

Female energy advisor takes outdoor meter reading.Red River College, in collaboration with the Manitoba Environmental Industries Association (MEIA), is the first post-secondary institution in the province to launch an Energy Advisor program.

The 15-week, part-time micro-credential program was developed to meet the need for Energy Advisors (EAs) to help deliver the one million EnerGuide rating services for eligible homes in Canada, as per the federal government’s Greener Homes initiative.

With the roll-out of the government’s Greener Home initiative and the nation-wide shortage of EAs, there’s an increased demand for specialized training, and in turn an immediate opportunity for employment for skilled labourers in Manitoba.

“The Energy Advisor micro-credential program was created to address and meet industry demands,” says Dr. Christine Watson, RRC’s Vice President, Academic and Research. “By leveraging the in-house expertise at RRC’s dynamic research facilities — including the Building Efficiency Technology Access Centre (BETAC) — along with our partners at MEIA, we’re delivering specialized skills training to prepare Manitobans for immediate employment in the growing sector of sustainable infrastructure.”

The micro-credential courses are targeted for Manitobans currently working in the fields of construction, trades or engineering, to provide necessary up-skilling. The program was designed to help learners acquire the knowledge and specialized skills to get certified as an EA and pass the Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) federal examination.

Once NRCan-certified, EAs can also add other NRCan services to their qualification, including EnerGuide for Multi-Unit Residential Buildings and ENERGY STAR for New Homes. Read More →

Innovation Centre to feature new-to-North America sustainable solar energy technology

April 22, 2021

Red River College is leading the way in the use of solar energy-conducting technology, providing opportunities for students and local construction firms to grow their skillsets.

Next week, electrical and building envelope crews will begin the installation of approximately 400 Kromatix Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPVs) — the first of their kind in North America — along the exterior façade of the Innovation Centre, currently under construction in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.

“We’re proud to be the first institution in North America to welcome this sustainable technology — it’s only fitting that it’s installed on a building designed to cultivate and foster innovative ideas,” says RRC President Fred Meier.

“This is just one example of how RRC puts its values of sustainability into action, and demonstrates to our students there is always a better way of doing things, so long as you are open to new ideas and have the courage to ask, ‘How can we make this work?’”

Diagram illustrating Kromatix technologyDeveloped by SwissINSO, Kromatix is an opaque glass — colour-treated without the use of paint or tint — that is layered over the solar, thermal and electrical components of each panel. The technology results in aesthetically impactful panels that are optimized for solar energy generation.

When combined with the building’s 138 rooftop panels, the glass will allow the College to offset energy consumption by about 193Mwh/year, enough to power 18.5 average-sized homes for the same amount of time.

Diamond Schmitt Architects and Number TEN Architectural Group, who worked in tandem to design the new building, sourced the innovative product from Denmark. Using a procurement method called design-assist, subcontractors were brought into the project before the design was complete to ensure the vision was functional and achievable.

“It was really important for us to work with local tradespeople for the installation of the panels,” says Frank Koreman, Project Manager at Akman Construction Ltd.

“Working with local trades to learn and install the panels means we have the technology here in Winnipeg, and it can be passed along and shared for future projects. The teams working on this project are loaded with RRC grads, so it comes full-circle to have been taught in school and then bring back new technology for an RRC project.” Read More →

Going for green: RRC’s values and actions lead the way in sustainability

April 19, 2021

Red River College is committed to embracing innovation, taking risks and challenging the status quo in the name of sustainability.

As Earth Day approaches, these values ring true as the College plans to open the doors to its newest learning space — the Innovation Centre — later this year.

Located in the heart of Winnipeg’s Exchange District, the Centre is on track to be RRC’s fourth LEED-certified structure, with a goal of 100 EUI (energy use intensity) and a near net zero building.

“We’re a leader in sustainability and that’s because sustainable values are embedded in all we do,” says RRC President Fred Meier. “These values guide us as we develop environmentally friendly programs and design state-of-the-art buildings, such as the Innovation Centre.”

Part of the Centre’s design includes Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) that will be installed along the exterior. Designed by SwissINSO (based in Switzerland), the coloured panels — called Kromatix — absorb and conduct energy while also protecting the building from the elements. This installation will be the first of its kind in Canada, and will reduce energy consumption by an estimated 15 per cent.

Thanks to energy efficient technologies — including Power Over Ethernet (POE) lighting, Smart LSI Breakers, WIFI outlets and BIPVs — the renewable energy produced will also power the building.

“Staying true to our values continues to make RRC a champion of sustainability in our province and across Canada,” says Meier.

That leadership has been formally recognized for more than a decade now, as RRC also celebrates being named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers this week. Read More →

College launches disposable mask recycling program

March 2, 2021

Red River College is tossing masks into the recycling bin and keeping them out of the landfill.

While a lot of people have chosen to wear reusable masks during the pandemic, many others are using disposable masks out of preference or necessity. Together, these masks amount to a staggering amount of waste.

To help keep people safe, RRC distributes more than 6,000 disposable masks every month to students, staff and visitors to its campuses. That’s why the polytechnic — which has continued to fuel the economy by providing hands-on training during the pandemic — is proud to launch a disposable mask recycling program.

“We’ve set up disposable mask recycling boxes at our Notre Dame Campus, located outdoors in high-traffic areas,” says Sara MacArthur, Director of Campus Planning and Sustainability. “As people leave our buildings, they can take off and toss their masks into one of the boxes to be recycled.”

Once a recycling box is full, it’s securely sealed and safely stored for 72 hours. After that, it’s sent to a facility in New Jersey, where the masks are disassembled, sorted and bundled for new use.

The metal nose pieces are smelted into bar stock and metal sheeting, the polypropylene face covering is crushed to make composite decking, shipping pallets and other products, and the ear bands are ground into a fine mesh to mix with other recycled products. Read More →

RRC grads, staff members offer shop-local options for the holiday season

December 11, 2020

‘Tis the season to shop local, and this year, Red River College is proud to share a number of ways the community can support our diverse network of alumni creators, entrepreneurs and innovators.

“Red River College’s alumni community has been creative and resilient throughout this pandemic,” says Katrina Sklepowich, RRC’s Alumni Engagement Officer.

“Alumni business owners continue to raise the bar with ingenious solutions to our new living and working conditions. There are many COVID heroes in our community and we want to thank them for all that they do to keep us safe and healthy, and to keep our economy going. One of the best ways we can show our support for the important work they do is to shop local this holiday season.”

With the current provincial Code Red restrictions, many of our favourite local businesses have had to close up shop and move online where possible, and many holiday market opportunities have been cancelled. These businesses have had to adapt to a new way of doing business and identify creative and innovative solutions to sell their products and services in a safe way.

For the last two years, the Sustainability team and Alumni Engagement have hosted a day-long, Made by RRC Winter Market, where talented alumni, staff and student makers sell their wares and promote their business to the College community.

The event is always well-attended by both makers and shoppers looking for the perfect gift for the special people in their lives.

This year, since we can’t gather physically for the event, the College has compiled a list of alumni and makers who participate in the Winter Market each year, so we can continue to support these businesses this holiday season.

“As a College, we  host several farmers’ and makers markets throughout the year to give staff and students opportunities to participate in low- to no-waste shopping options, as these vendors typically use less packaging on their products and with less travel, they carry a lower carbon footprint,” says Sara MacArthur, Director of Campus Planning and Sustainability at RRC.

“While the pandemic has been challenging in a number of ways, it has also provided a valuable learning opportunity for us to think more critically about the purchases we make and the impact they have on the environment and the economy. We are proud once again to support our talented local artisans and alumni and encourage the College community to shop local this holiday season.”

Made by RRC Alumni and Artisans:

Are you an RRC alumni member and business owner? If you’d like to connect with us about future opportunities for collaboration, email alumni@rrc.ca.

College marks 10th year as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers

June 16, 2020

For the 10th year in a row, Red River College has been named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers. To mark the milestone, the College is inviting staff and the public to use their backyard gardens to “grow a row” to help those in need.

“Red River College takes to heart the belief that sustainability is a journey without a final destination,” says Sara MacArthur, Director of Campus Planning and Sustainability at RRC. “We’re proud of today’s recognition because it highlights not only the past year’s achievements, but our long-term commitment to a greener future. Our staff and students planted the seeds of our sustainability initiatives, nurtured them, expanded our garden — and now we see the results flourishing.”

“Growing a better, greener future is a high priority for the entire Red River College community,” says Melanie Gudmundson, Chief Human Resource Office. “Our achievements are a testament to the leadership of our Sustainability team, who engaged and focused the efforts of RRC staff, students and partners across eight campuses and over an entire decade. We couldn’t be more proud.”

This year’s award recognizes RRC’s environmentally friendly policies and programs, and staff engagement in wide-ranging sustainability efforts such as reducing waste and energy consumption, campus greening, composting programs, community maker markets, environmentally friendly building management, and sustainable transportation.

The College is inviting everyone to join in this commitment by literally growing a garden of their own. RRC is once again participating in Winnipeg Harvest’s annual Grow-a-Row project by planting vegetables in their on-campus garden and donating the harvest to Winnipeggers in need, including Red River College students. Read More →

Campuses to go smoke-free in 2020

October 22, 2019

No smoking/no vaping symbolRed River College is “butting out” starting Jan. 1, 2020, when smoking and vaping will no longer be permitted at any of its campuses across the province.

The new policy is part of the College’s commitment to provide a healthy environment for its students, employees and visitors — one where they can work, learn, study and live.

RRC is one of Manitoba’s largest institutes of applied learning, and the province’s largest trainer of health-care professionals. It’s also consistently ranked as one of Manitoba’s top employers, and one of the greenest.

“We’re proud of these distinctions, and with that pride comes a responsibility to show leadership and set an example by putting an end to smoking and vaping everywhere on campus,” says Melanie Gudmundson, RRC’s Chief Human Resources Officer.

“We all share the same air. By adopting a 100% smoke-free policy, we’re eliminating exposure to second-hand smoke on campus that is known to be detrimental to people’s health, and contributes to local air pollution.”

The policy applies to all members of the College community, including students, staff and faculty.  Visitors to campus, including visiting instructors, prospective students, contractors and external clients, will also be prohibited from smoking on RRC property.

The College is making smoking cessation programs and resources available at no cost all members of its community through its Health Centre.

Exemptions to the policy will be granted to RRC community members who practice smudging and pipe ceremonies on campus. Red River College will also provide accommodation for the medical use of cannabis on campus in accordance with applicable legislation and policy.

To learn more about RRC’s smoke-free policy, visit rrc.ca/smokefree.

New pollinator garden the ‘bees’ knees’ for sweeter honey yields this summer

July 29, 2019

The bees are back in town, and Red River College is sweetening the deal for its insect friends this year, having added a new pollinator garden to the grounds of the Notre Dame Campus.

For four years, the College has partnered with Beeproject Apiaries to bring hives of honeybees — not to mention the delicious honey they produce — to the rooftops of RRC. Urban beekeeping is one of the many innovative and green initiatives offered by the College as a way to engage staff and students in sustainability efforts on campus and at home, and has contributed to RRC being named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for the ninth straight year.

Pollinator garden, Notre Dame CampusBecause pollination is so important to the sustainability of honeybeew, the College opted to complete a new pollinator garden project under the leadership of its Grounds crew this year.

“Staff and student engagement is critical for the success of any of the sustainability projects that RRC initiates, and we’ve seen that many areas of the College are eager to get involved and make sustainability a priority within their departments,” says Sara MacArthur, RRC’s Director of Sustainability.

“We were fortunate to partner with the Grounds department, who went over and above to create this beautiful pollinator garden at the Notre Dame Campus for everyone — not only our pollinator friends, but also students and staff — to engage with and enjoy.”

The pollinator garden is located along the walking path on the southeast grounds of the campus, and features a number of diverse species of flowers and plants in order to support as many different pollinators as possible. These include: Read More →

Portage Campus recognized as chimney swift champion

May 30, 2018

Red River College’s Portage Campus has a vacancy for some feathered friends.

For its efforts in restoring an old chimney to create a hospitable habitat for birds, RRC has been presented with the Swift Champion award from the Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative (MCSI). Over the summer of 2017, two swifts were spotted using the chimney a number of times, indicating the restoration was a success.

“We’re honoured to accept the Swift Champion award and to continue our role in protecting the chimney swifts,” says Guy Moffat, Portage Campus Manager. “It’s been amazing to see the work our facilities team has put in to restoring the chimney, and to be able to witness the swifts flying in and out of their summer home. Part of RRC’s Strategic Plan includes fostering sustainable growth – not just for the College, but for the entire province. This is just one way we contribute.”

The chimney swift is a small brown bird, often described as a “cigar with wings,” that enjoys roosting and breeding in brick chimneys. The species’ population has declined significantly in Canada since the 1970s and is now listed on both the provincial and federal Species at Risk registries.

When a volunteer from MCSI noticed upgrades being made to the Portage Campus chimney in 2016, they let the College know it had been identified as a designated chimney swift habitat.

That awareness resulted in changes to the original repair plans, which would have closed off the chimney with a metal cap. Now the top of the brick chimney remains intact, with an opening that allows swifts to enter and roost. The College’s efforts also ensure toxic gases won’t collect in the nesting area. Read More →

Ready, set, grow: RRC rises to Winnipeg Harvest’s Grow-a-Row challenge

September 28, 2017

Re driver College potato harvest

One potato, two potato, three potato, four — that and a few hundred pounds more were dug up from Red River College’s community garden today and donated to Winnipeg Harvest in support of the corporate Grow-A-Row challenge.

Staff and students at the College have spent all summer tending to the spuds (and carrots and onions), which will now go to feed families in need.

“Once again, Red River College is proud to support Winnipeg Harvest, and this year we are pleased to donate nearly 3,000 pounds of vegetables from our garden to Winnipeg families,” says RRC President Paul Vogt.

“I want to thank the staff and students who volunteer their time to tend to the garden, and our grounds and Sustainability teams who champion this community initiative within the College. I’d also like to congratulate the Winnipeg Airports Authority and the corporate partners [including Pegasus Publications] who have taken part in this important project to ensure that no one in our community goes hungry.”

Dating back several years, RRC’s involvement with Grow-A-Row is currently championed by Gord McLeod, pavement and grounds supervisor, and Sara MacArthur, director of Sustainability. The College’s garden — a 30’ x 60’ plot of land — has become a community initiative encouraging involvement from both staff and students, who tend and harvest it on a volunteer basis.

The food grown in the garden supports not only the greater community, but also the College’s food bank, organized by the RRC Students’ Association.

The Grow-A-Row initiative, meanwhile, first blossomed back in 1986, when Winnipeg residents Ron and Eunice O’Donovan produced more potatoes in their backyard garden than they could consume. Their donations were so well received by Winnipeg Harvest that the couple encouraged friends and neighbours to also donate surplus produce.

Since then, Grow-A-Row has yielded more than 3.7 million of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables.