Federal Minister Steven Guilbeault visits Fanshawe

Minster Steven Guilbeault poses with students at Fanshawe College CREDIT: MAURICIO PRADO
Minster Steven Guilbeault visited Fanshawe to discuss climate change, energy transition initiatives, and reducing greenhouse gases with students in the Plumbing and Electrician apprenticeship program.

On Sept. 13, Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault visited Fanshawe College to tour and discuss with Plumbing and Electrician apprenticeship program students about climate change, energy transition initiatives and reducing greenhouse gases (GHG). The Minster’s tour started alongside Fanshawe President Peter Devlin at the alleyway between the T and B Buildings and then moved to the Donald J. Smith School of Building Technology.

According to Devlin, Fanshawe College has been developing the Campus Energy Centre project to reduce the college’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. This project is expected to reduce the college’s GHG emissions and impact on climate change significantly in support of Canada’s Climate Action Plan.

Guilbeault said that thanks to increased GHG emissions, Canada has experienced extremely high temperatures, record wildfires and drastic weather due to climate change lately. He added that the only way to “make things right” is to let future generations of trade workers know where the future of sustainability is heading.

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“What often gets lost in this topic is how vital the future generation is,” Guilbeault said. “The future trade workers are the ones who will help us build the buildings and the electrical and piping systems of the future, which will make us more resilient to climate extremes like we saw last summer.”

He said that making Canada’s buildings more energy efficient is one of the most cost-effective methods for lowering greenhouse gas emissions and saving money for consumers and companies.

“The rate of global warming is presently higher than it has ever been. Weather patterns are shifting due to warming temperatures, disrupting the natural order,” Guilbeault said.

Fanshawe Plumbing Apprenticeship program coordinator Greg Van Bakel said the Minister’s visit was an excellent opportunity for the students to see what is happening at a high government level.

“Being able to understand what is happening at the federal level, what the environment and what the future is going to hold for them is vital because that way they know what the industry would be looking for,” Bakel said.

According to Statistics Canada, homes and buildings represent 13 per cent of Canada’s total GHG emissions. Guilbeault stated that the buildings that are going to be built in the coming years will be much more energy-efficient with a retrofitting system.

“Retrofitting should result in a more comfortable, healthier home with lower energy costs,” Guilbeault said.

He stated that it “will not happen overnight” but that they are progressively replacing fossil fuels with clean technologies. He added that is why they need trained people who understand and can be part of and contribute to that transition.

“With the current buildings, we are planning to do small adjustments like caulking windows, putting covers on plugs, covering water lines, and weatherstripping doors,” Guilbeault said.

Guilbeault said that the end goal with current buildings is to remove outdated technology, such as the HVAC and lighting systems, and replace it with more effective technology.

“We are looking at hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coming years in this sector,” Guilbeault said. “In terms of investment, job creation and projects, it will be a booming sector.”