$110M for nine innovative McGill research projects

The Government of Canada makes major investment in McGill research infrastructure through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Innovation Fund competition. The Province of Québec contributes matching funds.
Conceptual design rendering of BARN interior high-bay fabrication space.
Image by BARN team.
Conceptual design rendering of BARN exterior.
Published: 9 March 2021

Today, Élisabeth Brière, Member of Parliament for Sherbrooke and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages announced funding results from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Innovation Fund (IF) for universities in Quebec.

Nine McGill research projects received nearly $45 million in funding through this CFI-IF competition. Combined, the nine McGill-led projects represent a total research infrastructure investment of $110 million to McGill. Fourteen McGill researchers will collaborate on CFI projects led by other institutions.

This announcement echoes the announcement on March 3 made by the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, of more than $518 million in research infrastructure support through the CFI. The funding will go to 102 projects at 35 post-secondary institutions and research hospitals across the country and will help Canada remain at the forefront of exploration, innovation and discovery.

“These investments from the CFI and the Government of Québec will ensure that McGill’s researchers have the tools they need to produce high-impact research that is of benefit to Quebec, Canada, as well as the world”, said Martha Crago, Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation). “Innovation happens through interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaborations such as these nine outstanding CFI-funded projects. We also congratulate the researchers from McGill who are contributing their expertise to CFI-funded research projects across Canada.”

Timeless architecture for a sustainable future

Buildings contribute to an estimated 39% of global carbon emissions not only though direct energy use, but also through the energy intensive processes used to produce construction materials such as steel, cement and glass. Alternatively, forests are natural carbon sinks, absorbing and storing atmospheric carbon.

Working with an interdisciplinary team of McGill researchers, as well as with private and public sector partners, BARN co-leads Michael Jemtrud, Kiel Moe, and Salmaan Craig (Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture) aim to develop regional, carbon-negative approaches to construction, linking sustainable forestry with timber innovations.

With the goal of producing long-lived and resilient architecture, the team will explore ways to “decarbonize” buildings and environments by making them less carbon-intensive to operate and by reducing the amount of carbon embodied in building materials, components, assemblies, buildings and communities.

The showcase BARN building, to be located on McGill’s Macdonald campus, will include laboratories for an interdisciplinary team of experts in energy, ecology, landscape, forestry, architecture, and construction. It will incorporate a state-of-the-art workshop for processing timber, and space for assembling and testing innovative building technologies at full scale.

The Mac campus site will also enable the team to use wood harvested sustainably from the Morgan Arboretum to be processed and used in the design and construction of novel buildings in the as part of the facility’s “research-develop-demonstrate workflow,” says Professor Jemtrud. The large, interdisciplinary team capitalizes on the vast intellectual resources in the School of Architecture and in other Faculties and will train the next generation of professionals in carbon-neutral and climate resilient design.

View the full list of 2020 CFI Innovation Fund recipients.

About McGill University

Founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1821, McGill University is Canada’s top ranked medical doctoral university. McGill is consistently ranked as one of the top universities, both nationally and internationally. It is a world-renowned institution of higher learning with research activities spanning two campuses, 11 faculties, 13 professional schools, 300 programs of study and over 40,000 students, including more than 10,200 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, its 12,800 international students making up 31% of the student body. Over half of McGill students claim a first language other than English, including approximately 19% of our students who say French is their mother tongue.

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