One man’s junk is another man’s treasure- or research materials in Shahria Alam’s case. Shahria, assistant professor at the School of Engineering at UBC’s Okanagan campus, is researching how industrial waste can be recycled into new-generation concrete. This research has received prestigious federal funding from the NSERC Collaborative Research and Development Program and, in collaboration with OK Builders Supplies Ltd. the project will receive nearly $100,000 in support. Local assistance has also come from the City of Kelowna, Okanagan Testing Laboratories and FormAShape. Shahria’s green concrete research is gaining momentum-graduate students are eager to get involved and Canada’s construction industry is paying attention to UBC.
Shahria uses crushed, recycled concrete for aggregate material and is a pioneer in the green concrete field for using glass and discarded paint. “In order to preserve our natural resources,” says Shahria, “there is an increased trend of utilizing wastes into new products and services. Through my research, we strive to make things sustainable for our next generation which makes me enthusiastic about my work.” His research is also distinct because his work is solving local industry problems. The Okanagan Valley is home to many composite manufacturing companies that produce tonnes of plastic scrap and concrete that fills the landfills and is expensive to throw away. “The goal,” says Shahria, “is to keep as much out of the landfill as possible.” Through Shahria’s research, these scraps have the potential to be reused in future construction projects- his take on green concrete is changing the face of the construction industry.
Okanagan campus engineering students play a large role in developing green concrete. Shahria challenges his students to determine how future engineers can contribute toward global sustainability and the challenge is being met. “Every year I find a few undergraduate students from my civil engineering class who are highly motivated to pursue research on green construction materials,” says Shahria. “Through my website, I receive emails from students every day from different parts of the globe who want to join my research group.” Shahria works with four graduate and six undergraduate students, several of whom have won awards from UBC for their achievements. Green concrete is providing opportunities for UBC students to influence how Canadian industries become more sustainable.
UBC has committed to advancing a sustainable society by supporting outstanding research that serves the people of BC, Canada and the world. Shahria’s research is fulfilling that commitment and his work with students continues to make UBC a leading learning environment. “UBC, undoubtedly, is one of the greatest places for conducting research. The environment, facilities, research staff and colleagues all make UBC an inspiring place for research. Everyone here strives for excellence.” Innovative research conducted at UBC’s Okanagan campus is now leading the way towards a sustainable future and improved civil infrastructure for our region and beyond.