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Sustainability

Mockups and lockups: Manufacturing student creates new covers for on-campus bike lockers

May 4, 2022

You can’t make something from nothing. Unless you’re in manufacturing — then you can come pretty close.

Just ask Ryan Ross, a CNC Machining and Advanced Technology student who created durable weatherproof covers for RRC Polytech’s bike lockers.

“In the beginning I had nothing to work with,” says Ross (shown, at right). “It all started with hours of CAD (computer aided design) to get an initial shape and feel for the part. Once I measured (the lockers), I realized my design fit quite comfortably and my second iteration was adapted to use the measurements.”

After he 3D-printed his designs and confirmed they were functional, it was time to research the right material for the job. Another challenge: using something he had not worked with before.

“For the past two years I’ve learned to be a machinist — to work with metals. To be in a project with virtually no machining and work with a different material entirely … it was definitely a bit of a culture shock,” says Ross. “It taught me a lot about the plastics manufacturing industry — it really shows you that even the simplest plastic piece has a lot of meticulous steps to perfecting the process.”

Ross chose to make the parts out of two pieces of polyurethane resin, as it’s tough, resistant to moisture and chemicals, and can be mixed with UV-resistant additives to boost life expectancy against the sun.

“I wanted to make something that was elegant and simple, but portrayed the College’s pride and grace through a single act of production,” says Ross. “It was hard to conceptualize in the beginning, but I got input from many instructors and fellow classmates and was able to finalize the design.” Read More →

RRC Polytech honoured for heritage preservation of historic Scott Fruit Building

March 29, 2022

RRC Polytech proudly accepted a Heritage Conservation Award for its recently opened Manitou a bi Bii daziigae space at Heritage Winnipeg’s 36th annual Preservation Awards last Thursday. The award was received in partnership with Number TEN Architectural Group and recognizes the project team’s special effort to protect, conserve and reuse the historically designated Scott Fruit Building in its transformation of the Exchange District Campus.

“This award celebrates the spirit of innovation that bonds education and industry, leading to progress in any era,” says Lynn Zapshala-Kelln, Vice-President Finance and Administration at the College. “RRC Polytech is proud to extend the legacy of such an historic site, knowing its modernization will keep its entrepreneurial spirit alive while allowing us to achieve our commitments to constantly transform our learning model, strengthen academic pathways for students and deepen community partnerships.”

Located on Elgin Avenue, the 100,000-sq. ft. Manitou a bi Bii daziigae (shown above, under construction) was designed to look to the future while respecting the past. Adapting and upgrading the nearly 110-year-old Scott Fruit Building included restoration of the original wood and steel windows, the cleaning and repointing of the brick façade and incorporating historic elements in the interior design of the new space.

“The Scott Fruit Building’s longevity is a testament to the value of innovation,” says Zapshala-Kelln. “By protecting and celebrating its heritage status, Manitou a bi Bii daziigae provides our students and staff with a tangible link to our community’s rich history of visionary thinkers, who serve as their role models as they shape the next century of advancement.”

Built using the latest construction technology of concrete and steel in 1914, the Scott Fruit Warehouse was considered cutting-edge in architecture and appliance capability at the time, helping Winnipeg become the wholesale centre of Western Canada. Read More →

RRC Polytech staff, student, and alumni artisans offer local holiday goods

December 1, 2021

In past years, Red River College Polytechnic’s Sustainability team and Alumni Engagement have hosted a daylong Winter Market featuring products made by staff, student, and alumni artisans to celebrate the holiday season and encourage buying local.

Since campuses are not yet fully open to the public, RRC Polytech has once again created an online directory of makers in place of an in-person market experience. 

“The College’s alumni community is a diverse network of creators, entrepreneurs, and innovators. Following a challenging holiday season last year, we want to do our part to elevate these local businesses and encourage our community to shop local,” says Katrina Sklepowich, RRC Polytech’s Alumni Engagement Officer.

“We’ll be highlighting a number of makers each day for “12 Days of Holiday Shopping” – we encourage you to follow the RRC Polytech and Sustainability accounts on Instagram, where we’ll be sharing makers you can support between December 1-16.”

When you buy local from small businesses and artisan makers, you’re not only supporting creative makers in our community, but also the local economy. RRC Polytech has a strong commitment to sustainability and this is one way we’re able to encourage conscious shopping while promoting our talented staff, student, and alumni makers.

Read More →

Going electric in the sub-Arctic: RRC and Frontiers North unveil EV Tundra Buggy

August 24, 2021

Today, Frontiers North Adventures and Red River College unveiled a new zero-emission vehicle technology initiative. The Electric Vehicle Tundra Buggy® is a collaborative, proof-of-concept project that oversaw the conversion of a Tundra Buggy in Frontiers North’s touring fleet from diesel-powered to battery electric.

The EV Tundra Buggy was made possible through the province’s new Conservation and Climate Fund, and the Vehicle Technology Centre (VTCI) — a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Manitoba’s heavy vehicle manufacturing sector — and through in-kind support and technical services from RRC’s Vehicle Technology & Energy Centre (VTEC).

“The Manitoba government is committed to supporting environmental projects like the EV Tundra Buggy that beautifully blends our commitment to environmental sustainability, green energy and the entrepreneurial spirit of our province,” says Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard.

“We remain committed to making Manitoba the cleanest, greenest, most climate-resilient province in the country, and projects like this can help make that happen.”

The project’s goal of reducing environmental impact and protecting Manitoba’s sub-Arctic landscape will help to create a culture of sustainable tourism in Churchill, one of the province’s top year-round destinations.

“Our company’s purpose is all about stewardship, and positively contributing to our communities and environments,” says John Gunter, President and CEO of Frontiers North.

“By starting the conversion of our fleet with this first EV Tundra Buggy, Frontiers North is taking meaningful steps towards reducing our GHG emissions and creating new clean tech jobs. We are also excited to provide our touring guests a silent EV Tundra Buggy experience amongst wild polar bears and beneath the northern lights. For their support of this project we thank Manitoba, Vehicle Technology Centre Inc. and Red River College.”

The EV Tundra Buggy project builds upon research, testing and demonstration VTEC has undertaken for the shift of transit buses to electric. The battery used in the buggy is repurposed from an e-bus. By tapping into VTEC’s in-house technical expertise and using a repurposed e-bus battery, Frontiers North was able to confirm their vision of shifting from diesel to electric was feasible. Read More →

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: