Construction is set to begin on Okanagan College’s new $28-million Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation following the official groundbreaking by provincial, federal and college representatives. The project will create up to 179 direct jobs.

“The investment in Okanagan College will provide a significant economic stimulus to our community and will create jobs in this region,” said Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla. “Our government is investing in innovation to create jobs, to help our economy recover quickly and to improve the quality of life for Canadians.  Young people and older citizens in increased numbers will benefit from the ongoing excellence of Okanagan College.”

            “This new centre for green technology at Okanagan College will stimulate Penticton’s economy and increase our community’s vitality as more youth can affordably stay here to get a world class, state of the art education,” said Bill Barisoff, MLA for Penticton. “The skills being learned here will translate into real career opportunities that capitalize on the new green economy.

The Centre of Excellence is being built to meet the Living Building Challenge, a set of building standards that exceeds LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum. The Living Building Challenge is comprised of seven performance areas; site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. The facility should achieve a net-zero energy consumption by incorporating building elements that are a first in Canada and North America and is already being recognized for its world-class design. It is expected that building costs associated with meeting this very high standard will be similar to conventional construction.

            “Okanagan College has been contributing to the social and economic vitality of our communities for over 40 years,” said John Slater, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen. “This centre takes the college boldly into the twenty-first century and ensures it will continue to be a positive force in our region for many decades to come.”

Once complete, the 7,000 square metre centre will offer innovative programming in geo-thermal, onsite alternative energy sources, metering and monitoring of green buildings, building envelope construction, life cycle site management, refrigeration mechanics, applied conservation technician, H-VAC and power lineman.

“This is an exciting project that will enable Okanagan College instructors and students to become leaders in the development of sustainable building practices,” said Moira Stilwell, Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development. “This investment with our federal and college partners will ensure that B.C. students continue to be well prepared to take advantage of future opportunities.”


The facility will provide space for start-up companies to explore and develop new ideas and the centre will host research and development activities in partnership with industry and not-for-profit organizations. Students will benefit by being involved in the research of cutting-edge technology, while curriculum will be designed to meet ever-changing needs

“This Centre of Excellence will be a beacon for sustainability, not just in terms of its actual construction, but also in terms of the programming and approaches it represents,” said Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton.  “It is already attracting national and international attention. What’s most important is that it will provide access to unique programs and educational opportunities for residents of the South Okanagan and the entire province.”

This is one of 40 projects at post-secondary institutions across the province funded through a joint federal-provincial investment of $497 million. The total investment in these projects is $519 million including contributions from institutions.

This project is also part of an overall $14-billion capital infrastructure program supported by the Province that will create up to 88,000 jobs and help build vital public infrastructure in every region of B.C.

Canada’s Economic Action Plan sets out to stimulate the Canadian economy over the next two years and to improve our long-term competitiveness through $12 billion in new infrastructure investment, which includes the $2-billion Knowledge Infrastructure Program.