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Okanagan College hires technology promoter

Peter Haubrich has been involved with the Centre of Excellence since its early day, seen here using his iPhone to record the proceedings at the groundbreaking for the Penticton campus expansion in 2009. - Steve Kidd/Western News
Peter Haubrich has been involved with the Centre of Excellence since its early day, seen here using his iPhone to record the proceedings at the groundbreaking for the Penticton campus expansion in 2009.
— image credit: Steve Kidd/Western News

Okanagan College has taken a major step forward in planning for the future of the Centre of Excellence, hiring Peter Haubrich, a well-known promoter of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship to develop partnership and research opportunities.

“My task is to find companies who are interested in working with the building and starting projects,” said Haubrich, explaining that there are two major areas of research. “One is renewable energy and the other is looking at how to build green buildings and the lessons learned here. There are many interesting things happening in this build and architects can learn from this. We have some experience and we could give some background or even modelling of how a building behaves.”

Haubrich, who founded the Okanagan Research and Innovation Centre and has also helped set up several successful research labs for major electronics companies, will be on contract with the College.

“Peter has been an ardent supporter of the College and the Centre of Excellence from the beginning,” said Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s vice president of education. “We’re excited about the opportunity to tap into his expertise, talent and extensive network of contacts to help realize the promise of the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence.”

“The College, Penticton and the region have a tremendous asset in the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence,” says Haubrich. “This is a leading edge building, one of the greenest, most sustainable buildings of its type in the world. The opportunity to leverage the technology and the resources of the College is significant.”

The incorporation of this kind of research was planned from the start for the Centre of Excellence. Being a “living laboratory” where students and others could monitor how the building behaves was integral to the design parameters.

The centre features the largest photovoltaic solar array on a non-utility institutional building in Western Canada, it includes areas for testing and demonstration of alternative energy sources, features unique green roof designs and has been profiled internationally for its significant energy controls and monitoring systems.

“The idea is that companies could use the building, test new equipment and compare it with existing solar arrays, for example, and see which is better. Also the building has a lot of measuring points, so we can also see how the building is working,” said Haubrich. “There are a lot of projects in my mind at the moment. It is very interesting for the students. What we will do is engage the students in those projects so they can also learn about the newest technologies.”

The Centre of Excellence is one of the greenest buildings in the world, a participant in the Living Building Challenge.

“The building has some very exciting features like a photovoltaic solar array on the roof and thermal solar heat. It will be net zero, which means that it doesn’t use energy from the grid,” said Haubrich. “In the winter it takes from the grid and in the summer it gives back, so it would be zero, neutral.”

The building and the College have garnered several awards, recognizing everything from its lighting systems to its overall sustainability.

Now Haubrich will be using his considerable contacts in the tech sector to develop partnerships and commercialization initiatives for the Centre of Excellence.

“Okanagan College’s accreditation as a research institution by Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council in 2011 also bodes well,” said Haubrich, adding that there is an added incentive with the possibility of matching funds for research projects through the Pattison Foundation’s pledge of $2.5 million over five years.

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