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Training Youth in Energy-Efficient Construction at Westbank First Nation
This success story explores the Residential Energy Efficiency Works (REnEW) Program that rolled out at Westbank First Nation in 2020-2021.
The REnEW program aimed to educate and train youth participants in the field of energy-efficient retrofitting and construction. The participants, many of whom had previously faced barriers to employment, worked together on an energy-efficient demonstration building project in the community and also gained construction site experience. The "hands-on" approach created a focused learning environment and exposed them to a range of residential building practices.
For program participants, this was just the start of the journey — as many went on to full-time or part-time employment in construction and two took up FortisBC scholarships to gain more education in the field. This REnEW project reflects a strong a partnership between FortisBC, the Okanagan Training & Development Council (OTDC) and Westbank First Nation, the program host.
More construction projects
2019 West Moberly First Nation:
West Moberly First Nation is building a Passive-certified health station, which will be the first of its kind in the province. The Nation wanted to share the experience of a high-performance building with its entire community and to showcase its value and benefits. You can also listen to our webinar
about lessons that West Moberly learned from building to a Passive House standard.
- 2018 Nuutsumuut Lelum | Community Success Story: The Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre partnered with BC Housing to construct culturally appropriate, affordable, energy efficient housing for the Urban Indigenous community in Nanaimo.
- 2017 Nuxalk Nation: The Nuxalk Nation has used their local assets and resources to construct culturally appropriate, high-quality housing for their community members. In the process, the Nation has trained a local construction workforce and focused on educating and empowering tenants and homeowners.
- 2017 Yale First Nation: When Yale First Nation decided to invest in building new rental housing, they turned to Britco, a modular building company, to construct a sixplex that meets the highly energy efficient Passive House standards. The modular homes were prefabricated in Britco's facility and then transported to Yale First Nation, in a process that took 5 months. You can hear more about this project in this webinar recording.
- 2014 Penticton Indian Band EcoSage Project: The Penticton Indian Band participated in a pilot project to expand housing through construction of eight high-efficiency homes. These were constructed to optimize use of space, minimize maintenance and make use of natural passive energy.
- 2011 Clayoquot Sound First Nations: The EcoTrust Green and Culturally Appropriate Building Design Project helped in the design of homes for Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The project took into account cultural elements such as traditional long house design and use of cedar and other local harvested materials.
- 2009 Hesquiaht First Nation Place of Learning: Hesquiaht First Nation built a combined community centre, school and post-disaster facility with the use of local labour and resources. Sustainability features included solar-heated rainwater to power a geothermal heating system and wind power for natural air ventilation.
- 2008 Ucluelet First Nation: A housing development of Ucluelet First Nation used recycled materials and relied on local labour to lower the building costs. Insulated concrete form walls helped with high energy efficiency, durability, and mold prevention. The project earned a CMHC national housing award.
- 2003 Seabird Island Sustainable Community: The Seabird Island Band (Sto:lo) completed an innovative community development project in 2003. Energy-efficiency and sustainability features included solar roofs, earth-tubes, recycled heat energy, use of recycled plastic, wind energy, high-performance windows and concrete slab floors. The project also offered opportunities to foster local capacity and skills.
Energy-Efficient Housing Policy
- 2015 Kitasoo First Nation: The Kitasoo / Xai'xais First Nation has a small community-owned hydro plant that powers the village and is backed up with a diesel generator. To accommodate for future growth, the nation explored ways to reduce the community’s electricity demand, and developed an Energy Efficiency Housing Policy. The housing policy has been approved by the Kitasoo Band Council. The Kitasoo Energy Efficient Housing Policy and Implementation process webinar recording is available on the FBC YouTube channel.
Home and Building Renovations
2018 Kanaka Bar Indian Band
: Kanaka Bar has a vision of building a self-sufficient and sustainable community, which includes self-sufficiency in employment, food, finances and energy. In addition to solar and small-scale hydroelectric development, the community is putting a lot of effort into rolling out a home energy efficiency project, which focuses on community capacity development, youth engagement, and community-led action. Read a case study
on this work and watch our video series: Reno Nation, Kanaka Bar.
2014 Kwadacha Nation:
Kwadacha Nation, one of BC’s most isolated communities, upgraded 11 homes as a community pilot project on energy efficiency; the result was reduced energy consumption — an average of 37% in the first year and $2,000 per year savings for each participating household. More information on this pilot is available through Kwadacha Nation Energy Conservation Program report and First Nations Housing - Saving Money and Energy (webinar recording)
- 2013 Osoyoos Indian Band: In the face of rising rates and utility bills, Osoyoos Indian Band partnered with FortisBC to encourage their community members to get involved in the Energy Conservation Assistance Program (ECAP). ECAP offered residents a free home assessment and measures to reduce energy consumption. Osoyoos Indian Band was successful in getting 100% of their low-income homes and 51% of band-owned and privately owned homes to participate. Hear how they did it in this webinar recording.