Haibo Feng is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Wood Science at UBC. His research area focuses on green building, building information modelling, life cycle assessment and building energy performance. He has extensive industrial and research experience in promoting sustainable building construction with the integration of advanced building systems and renewable energy supports.
Tell us about yourself!
I am an Assistant Professor working in a Sustainable Timber-Built Environment. After working at Northumbria University in the UK as an Assistant Professor in sustainable construction, I joined UBC Forestry’s Department of Wood Science. I have over 6 years of industrial experience working in Canada and around the world.
I am passionate about sustainability in the built environment from materials to construction to waste. Outside of work, I enjoy cycling and walking with my family, I also enjoy searching for all kinds of delicious foods that Vancouver could offer.
What drew you to your work?
My career started as a civil engineer in skyscraper construction management, and I developed a deep understanding of the environmental impacts of construction. After three years of onsite experience, I joined UBC as a Master’s student to start my research on sustainable construction by investigating the environmental and economic performance of LEED-certified buildings and green vegetation applications on buildings. After my MASc studies on sustainability, I chose to practice in the BC consulting industry to further understand the applications of all kinds of technologies and designs for green buildings.
I was impressed by how fast the construction industry adapted the sustainability concept into the whole life cycle of buildings and construction, while I observed that there is still a huge gap in detailed regulations and standards development to support the industry in better-pursuing sustainability and zero carbon targets. I went back to complete my Ph.D. degree after three years of experience in the consulting firm with the topic of whole building life cycle assessment. My Ph.D. experience in sustainable construction put me in a good position to continue serving the academic and industry with low-environmental-impact materials, technologies and designs.
What attracted you to working at UBC?
UBC is a top-ranking university that provides enormous opportunities and resources for researchers to achieve their career needs and research profile development.
The efficient and friendly work environment in UBC creates great conditions for me to focus on breaking through research barriers and servicing the industry with my research skills. UBC has a beautiful campus that is also located in a great city to work and grow my family. Last but not least, the support and encouragement from colleagues at UBC Forestry and Wood Science give me a bright path toward career development.
How is British Columbia leading the way in Sustainable Construction, Circular Economy, and Zero Carbon Building compared to your work in other locations? How does your work align with this?
B.C. is leading the path in sustainability in Canada and around the world by having an ambitious target of zero carbon emissions. CleanerBC’s action plan on climate change shows the government’s ambitions and support for sustainable construction. Circular economy is an efficient economic strategy to promote cleaner and more sustainable industries in all aspects. B.C. provincial and municipal governments are taking all kinds of actions and strategies to promote and develop opportunities to move towards a circular economy.
There are many research centres and institutes at UBC and other universities to support the government and industry to establish businesses and technologies with circularity concepts, such as BioProduct Institute and Clean Energy Research Centre on the UBC campus. In terms of building environmental impacts, BC is leading the industry toward low-carbon and energy buildings through the life cycle. The B.C. Energy Step Code is a promising and practical push from the BC government to mandate the building industry toward technology revolutions. Besides that, Passive House and embodied carbon counting requirements from Vancouver B.C. also lead the B.C. industry towards greener and smarter practices. Furthermore, the Zero Carbon Building Design standard was first issued by Canada’s Green Building Council, which shows the positive and supportive position from 3 levels of government in comparison with my work in other locations globally.
Fortunately, my work on sustainable construction is completely supported and aligned with all the policies, regulations and support from different organizations mentioned above. My intention is to continue developing more sustainable and affordable buildings with all kinds of technologies, including high-efficiency mechanical systems, bio-based materials, digital technology, robotics, and BIM. I will communicate with all kinds of parties that are in need of technical and academic support on sustainable construction and zero carbon emissions. I will continue developing the Sustainable Built Environment Lab with my graduate students and colleagues in Forestry and across campus.
In addition to research, what are you most looking forward to working on in the Faculty of Forestry?
I am delivering two micro-certificates, Circular Bioeconomy Business Development and Zero Carbon Building Solutions, to professionals based on my research and industry experience. This will be an exciting opportunity for me to return what I have learned to the industry to promote sustainable construction. On the other hand, I will be able to connect with industry professionals and understand the real needs and barriers towards sustainability.
Besides teaching and research, I am always happy to meet more colleagues in other Forestry departments and get to know more interesting stories about their research and life. I am passionate about embracing new ideas so feel free to shoot me an email if you think there is any intersection between our research interests, or if you feel something interesting about me that you want to know more about.