Emerging Building Systems and Wood Innovation - BC-351

Preferred Disciplines: Construction management, environment, forestry, architecture, engineering, business, law, public policy. Level : Masters.
Project length: 8-12 months
Desired start date: October 2017
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: English Language
Company: NA

About Company:

The partner is a consulting firm that has been working at the local, national and international level to advance innovative construction solutions for over 20 years. Areas of specialization include market trends, technical opportunities and best practices that range from zero energy buildings to modern methods of construction. Clients include governments, real estate and construction businesses and their associations.

The project team also includes a large engineering company and a law firm that specializes in legal issues relating to the construction industry. 

Project Description:

This project is set within the context of advancing innovation in the construction industry. With the adoption of any new technology, there are knowledge gaps in the design, construction and regulatory processes that need to be resolved. As the market advances, so new opportunities and barriers will continue to arise that need to be fed back to expert practitioners, researchers and policymakers for evaluating, resolving and testing. Feedback platforms for identifying, resolving, testing and monitoring innovation from the field are common practice in other industries but do not exist in the building design and construction industry. In fact, compared to all other major industries, Canada’s construction industry has the worst record for investing in R&D. As a result, practitioners have nowhere to turn when they are faced with unfamiliar products and technologies.

The primary objective of this project is to develop and test an innovation feedback platform and methodology that will help the Canadian construction industry become confident in embracing new ideas, products and processes, thereby advancing the uptake of innovative timber solutions at home and abroad. The idea is to establish a collaborative system that will help practitioners to gain access to leading experts so they can resolve technical and regulatory barriers to innovative wood buildings in a timely way, and share the learnings without fear of challenge.

The research steps involve reviewing best practices in BC and elsewhere + gathering information from selected projects, creating a database of innovation barriers and opportunities, recruit and interview industry experts + hold a 1 day workshop, providing suggested courses of action, prepare a library of best practice solutions and a report (describing methodology to track progress of solution development towards market adoption, how to sustain future feedback loops that will enable knowledge gaps to be identified and addressed as they arise, and how to replicate to apply to other regions).

Background and required skills

Research Objectives/Sub-Objectives:

The project goals include:

  • Technical and regulatory knowledge gaps are identified, prioritized and validated
  • A library of code-compliant details, spec language and other solutions is assembled and delivered to industry in an easy to use format (e.g. BIM models) to address short-term issues
  • Processes are established whereby a group of accepted industry experts (drawn from key stakeholder groups including developers & owners, consultants, builders, industry specialists, suppliers, researchers and industry advocates) is mobilized to address knowledge gaps in an effective, timely and consistent manner
  • The best practice details, technical language, “pathways” to resolution of issues and other outcomes are provided back to industry in a legally acceptable “open source” (preferably digital) format to expedite market adoption.
  • The application of best practices is monitored to capture ongoing feedback on how the information being deployed


The project will involve the following research elements

  • Literature review of best practices in BC & elsewhere, reports and studies of issues and challenges with innovative solutions
  • Interviews with industry leaders, gathering instances of technical and/or regulatory barriers / opportunities
  • 1 day Industry workshop – research, assemble and test “straw dog “ projects
  • Analysis of findings
  • Research the method by which an industry leadership “faculty” can be convened to develop and validate solutions, and the knowledge shared without risk of challenge
  • Research and develop pilot industry / expert engagement “platform” 

Expertise and Skills Needed:

  • Knowledge of the Canadian construction industry
  • Knowledge of building products used in wood frame and mass timber mid-rise and non-residential construction an asset
  • Familiarity with structural engineering, architecture, building or building codes and/or manufacturing with wood an asset
  • Strategic ability to seek and identify opportunities for wood use, using creativity and innovation to expand opportunities

For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

  1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects.
  2. Complete this webform. You will be asked to upload your CV. Remember to indicate the title of the project(s) you are interested in and obtain your professor’s approval to proceed!