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Engineers tackle sustainable construction with new report

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by Kelly Lapointe last update:Aug 28, 2014

BY KELLY LAPOINTE - The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies - Canada (ACEC) has released a report that it hopes will guide consulting engineers and owners in creating sustainable projects.

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies - Canada (ACEC) has released a report that it hopes will guide consulting engineers and owners in creating sustainable projects.

Sustainable Development for Canadian Consulting Engineers by Dr. John Boyd, an internationally recognized authority on sustainability, identifies practices and tools developed by the global engineering community to help tackle the issue of sustainability.

As there is now more of a demand for sustainability measures through engineering, ACEC president John Gamble said he hopes that this guide will help owners, consultants and constructors navigate the numerous tools available to help them achieve sustainable projects or improve the sustainability of projects.

“We’ve attempted to look at some of the recognized models that have been generated around the world and to look at their applicability to the Canadian context. It’s really just to add to the body of knowledge and to inform not just our members, but the owners of engineered assets, of the tools that are available to them,” said Gamble.

“I like to think engineers have been doing sustainability for decades without necessarily realizing it because engineering to a large extent is an exercise in optimization.”

All levels of government in Canada have been showing a growing interest in sustainable projects from the consulting engineering industry.

The report chose to look at four systems for measuring the sustainability of the huge gamut of infrastructure engineering projects that have possible application in Canada.

“There’s a myriad of different engineering assets where sustainability is going to be an opportunity and there’s a wide variety of tools out there,” said Gamble.

“Our hope is that this will help our members and our clients make informed decisions about the model and the opportunities in their particular case.”

Envision from the United States, CEEQUAL international from the U.K., and AGIC IS from Australia are meant for direct use by consulting engineers.

CBDD from France is a project logbook of sustainability initiatives for the owner to use with input from engineers.

“At this stage in the development of such systems it would be a better strategy for Canadian consultants to focus on those aspects of sustainability that are under their direct control on projects and adopt the FIDIC PSM II approach that identifies design issues and targets that are specific to the consulting engineering industry,” stated the report. “With this base, discussions with clients about their specific sustainability interests and needs would be used to supplement the PSM II issues for the specific project under study.”

The report noted that it is clear that sustainable development will increasingly dictate clients’ project requirements in Canada and that the industry needs to take sustainability issues seriously and develop practices that produce more sustainable project solutions.

“Sustainable infrastructure and sustainable engineering assets provide both an environmental and economic benefit to the owner that the engineer can help deliver,” said Gamble.

“This push for sustainability and the fact that sustainability is being embraced is shining a light onto the long term value proposition that engineers offer that is sometimes ignored out of short term interests.”

last update:Aug 28, 2014

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