The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is giving the University of New Brunswick just over $1.3 million towards a $2.8 million expansion of the school’s Off-site Construction Research Centre, which works with the private sector to develop technologies for constructing parts of buildings at centralized factories.

The centre is also receiving about $300,000 of grants from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, as well as spending $730,000 from a prior donation made to UNB by Saint John-based OSCO Construction Group.

In a statement, UNB described the expansion as “phase two” of the centre’s development, for which its main goals are to expand its research staff and infrastructure, develop more national and international industry partnerships, create a new facility for testing building exteriors and to develop educational programming for people working in off-site construction.

“The construction industry is currently suffering from an increased cost of materials and discrepancies in housing and labour demand and supply,” said UNB. “On the contrary, off-site construction is proven to increase productivity and safety for construction workers. By reducing material waste, off-site construction supports the global need to construct energy-efficient structures, maximize labour supply and disrupt the market.

“This, along with technological advancements, is creating the perfect catalyst for further innovation in off-site construction.”