All posts by david_anderson

CaGBC launches new energy benchmarking training

As energy benchmarking is becoming mandatory, Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is offering two courses to prepare those involved. Photo © Bigstock.com
As energy benchmarking is becoming mandatory, Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is offering two courses to prepare those involved.
Photo © Bigstock.com

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is launching new training courses on mandatory energy benchmarking strategies and regulations for both private and public-sector stakeholders later this month.

Titled “Introduction to Energy Benchmarking” and “Understanding Ontario’s Mandatory Energy Benchmarking for Large Buildings,” the courses will introduce the general process for accurate data collection, show participants how to create a building profile and discuss Ontario’s upcoming Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking (EWRB) regulation. The courses were developed in consultation with the Illinois Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and modelled after the successful training implemented in support of Chicago’s Energy Benchmarking Ordinance.

CaGBC is spearheading a national strategy to reduce the challenges and complexity of implementing benchmarking and reporting requirements in cities and provinces. Included in this strategy was the launch of a white paper called “Energy Benchmarking, Reporting & Disclosure in Canada: A Guide to a Common Framework.”

“The CaGBC is pleased to be offering these two new courses, which will help industries better understand and adopt mandatory energy benchmarking practices and regulations,” said Thomas Mueller, CaGBC’s president and CEO. “By implementing these practices, building owners and managers have access to key data on the performance of their buildings, which enables them to make strategic investments in operational improvements, technology upgrades, and retrofits in an effort to conserve more energy, reduce emissions, and realize financial savings.”

Registration is now open for the first round of courses, with the initial one taking place on September 14. They can be taken separately or together, with both webinar and classroom options available.

For more information on these courses and to register, visit cagbc.org/ebcourses.

 

Looking for the best wood projects in the Atlantic provinces

Atlantic WoodWorks Design Awards is a regional program supporting innovation and providing leadership in the use of wood and wood products. One of last year’s winning designs was the Southlands Community Centre. Photo © WoodWorks
Atlantic WoodWorks Design Awards is a regional program supporting innovation and providing leadership in the use of wood and wood products. One of last year’s winning designs was the Southlands Community Centre.
Photo © WoodWorks

The registration deadline for the Atlantic WoodWorks Design Awards event in Halifax is quickly approaching for design/construction professionals.

The November 8 event recognizes excellence in wood construction and design, and honours people and organizations that showcase and promote the use of wood. A jury of experts will review the nominations, choosing the winners based on:

  • creativity;
  • distinctive use of wood materials (with emphasis on regionally produced materials);
  • ability to satisfy clients and site requirements; and
  • innovation and overall esthetics.

The submission deadline is September 16. Winning projects will be published in a hardcover book, North American Wood Design Awards.

Among the last year’s winners were Brian Mackay Lyons (Mackay Lyons Sweetapple Architects Ltd.) and Mark Gillis (Gillis and Company Timber Frames) who respectively won the Atlantic Architect Award and the Atlantic Engineer Award, for their impressive work over the years. Fougere Menchenton Architecture Inc. was the Newfoundland and Labrador Non-residential Project winner for its design of the Southlands Community Centre.

For more information on the event or how to register, click here.

Industry groups call for national plan for energy-efficient buildings

Eleven organizations urge the federal government to implement a national plan for energy-efficient buildings in Canada, which will see all new construction to be nearly zero energy by 2030. Photo courtesy Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC)
Eleven organizations urge the federal government to implement a national plan for energy-efficient buildings in Canada, which will see all new construction to be nearly zero energy by 2030.
Photo courtesy Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC)

Eleven organizations, including the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), Passive House Canada, and the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance (CEEA), are calling on the federal government to implement a national plan for improving the energy efficiency of the country’s buildings.

The organization offered 14 recommendations for key policies and programs for a national plan that would help the government meet climate-change objectives and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It would set the stage for deep energy retrofits of existing buildings—energy reductions of 25 to 50 per cent of one-third of Canada’s buildings by 2030—and all new construction to be nearly zero energy by 2030.

A letter written on the behalf of the 11 organizations addressed to Jim Carr (minister of natural resources) and Catherine McKenna (minister of environment and climate change) states Canada has an important opportunity to transform the built environment and transition to a low-carbon future while enhancing the performance and livability of Canadian homes and businesses.

The signatories, who represent energy and building professionals, associations, and non-government organizations and businesses, also include:

  • Pembina Institute;
  • Association québécoise pour la maîtrise de l’énergie (AQME);
  • Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF);
  • MaRS Advanced Energy Centre;
  • Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Toronto;
  • Council for Clean Capitalism; and
  • Environmental Defense, Équiterre.

“As the leading voice for architecture in Canada, we are proud to be working with the Pembina Institute and other leading built-realm organizations to enable and impel bolder responses to pressing eco-social challenges,” said Jennifer Cutbill, RAIC regional director for British Columbia/Yukon and chair of the RAIC’s Committee on Responsible Environments. “All parties involved in the creation of the built realm—from policy and planning through to design, construction, and inhabitation—have an obligation to shift towards more holistically sustainable patterns.”

She added architects are often leaders of the multi-stakeholder teams responsible for delivering the pieces of their built realm, and therefore have a responsibility to take a leadership role in advocating and innovating for a shift to more holistically sustainable patterns.

The organizations note the total energy consumption of buildings account for nearly 25 per cent of Canada’s GHG emissions.

“In order for Canada to achieve its 2030 climate target under the Paris Agreement and its longer-term de-carbonization goals, we must significantly reduce emissions of existing buildings and ensure that new buildings are designed for ultra-low emissions,” the organizations stated in the letter. “We believe the buildings sector offers to policy-makers some of the lowest-cost and achievable greenhouse gas reductions.”

The organizations say energy efficiency programs will create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and improve the quality of the spaces where Canadians live and work. The recommendations include:

  • updating national model building codes to achieve nearly zero energy new construction by 2030 (and working with provinces to facilitate adoption of building codes);
  • developing or adapting national energy codes for major renovations of existing buildings;
  • reforming tax policy to stimulate investment in efficiency; and
  • financially supporting other levels of government to incentivize and remove barriers to deep retrofits.

The groups say the federal government should lead by example, noting it owns and occupies over 27 million m2 (290.6 million sf) of floor space across Canada. At the same time, they applauded the commitment the government has shown on climate initiatives.

“Beyond advocating for reductions and associated incentives, we are promoting for a shift in mindset,” said Cutbill. “We need to move beyond a framework of doing less harm, and collectively shift to one of creating net positive impact. By and large, we do not lack for solutions to the pressing challenges of climate change; rather we need collective will, and more effective integration.”

To see the full letter, click here.

Built Green Canada supports Fort McMurray rebuild

Built Green Canada to support the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s (RMWB) rebuilding efforts in Fort McMurray, Alberta.  Photo © Bigstock.com
Built Green Canada to support the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s (RMWB) rebuilding efforts in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
Photo © Bigstock.com

The destruction caused by the wildfires and flooding that has left countless Fort McMurray, Alberta residents homeless, has impelled Built Green Canada to support the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s (RMWB) rebuilding efforts.

Built Green Canada is a national, industry-driven, non-profit organization offering third-party certification programs for those interested in sustainable practices in the residential building sector. The programs are focused on energy efficiency but extend to materials and methods, indoor air quality (IAQ), ventilation, waste management, water conservation, and business practices.

Given the barrage of challenges and opportunities facing RMWB, Built Green Canada has been examining the situation to find an appropriate time to extend their support. On the heels of the municipality issuing its first rebuilding permit, the organization is offering financial support to those who want to integrate green features into their developments.

All residential builders on the RMWB registry will receive a 50 per cent discount on membership fees with Built Green Canada, as well as a full financial waiver for home certification fees for projects going through the organization’s Single Family (SF) program as part of the rebuild. This will remain in effect through 2017 to help relieve the financial burden on both builders and homeowners.

“Alberta’s residential building industry has historically shown—and continues to show—tremendous environmental leadership,” said Built Green Canada executive director Jenifer Christenson. “With a spotlight on Fort McMurray’s rebuilding efforts, there is an opportunity to showcase the good work happening in sustainable development, while the municipality, trades, and organizations like Built Green Canada come together to rebuild and strengthen this community.”

This co-ordinated effort benefits not only the environment, but also homeowners who will enjoy a healthier, more durable, and affordable home through a reduction in the operating and maintenance costs of homeownership and rebate eligibility.

ArchitecTOUR looks to bring design professionals to Denmark

There will be various designs and sites on this year’s ArchitecTOUR, including the Royal Opera House. Photo courtesy Royal Opera House
There will be various designs and sites on this year’s ArchitecTOUR, including the Royal Opera House.
Photo courtesy Royal Opera House

This year’s ArchitecTOUR will bring Canadian design/construction professionals across the ocean to meet and greet architects and planners behind the blooming architectural scene of Copenhagen.

The event, running September 24 to 30, includes a tour of the iconic Copenhagen Harbour, along with the Royal Library (also known as the Black Diamond), the Royal Danish Playhouse, and Henning Larsen’s Royal Opera House. Also, there will be an all-inclusive experience with dining at the many new Nordic restaurants, city centre accommodation at a boutique, design hotel, and a bombardment of impressions.

While at the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces participants will learn more about the framework for Danish Architecture. The architectural policies will be presented and discussed to provide participants an understanding of how decisions are made and collaborations happen within its architecture. Attendees will hear from the chief city planner of Copenhagen, who will present the vision for the city and its future development.

One of Denmark’s most renowned architect firms, Gehl Architects, has made its mark all over Copenhagen and the world. For decades they have studied how architecture and city planning affects sociology and psychology, and they have used this to create magnificent projects. Those visiting the studio, will have a first-hand chance to understand this perspective on architecture and urban planning.

Reception at the Danish Association of Architectural Firms offer participants a unique opportunity to network with their Danish peers.

On the tour is Carlsberg Byen, which was awarded ‘Best Master Plan’ at the World Architecture Festival in 2009. Carlsberg closed its brewery in 2006, which meant a large piece of land was available for new development. Therefore, the brewery was developed into a new neighbourhood in Copenhagen. The participants will hear about the plans for the area and what happens when the opportunity to develop a new city from scratch arises.

There will be various other visits and presentations of state-of-the-art Danish buildings and urban redevelopments. The participants will meet skilled Danish architects, city planners and developers, and have a chance to hear from them first hand, such as what it is like to work in a country that has a strong focus on sustainability, innovation, a sense of community, and a high quality of life.

Check out the ArchitecTOUR 2016 highlights, and click here for more information on registration.  The admission is $5000 all-inclusive, encompassing flights, hotels, all meals, guided tours, etc.

National Steel Symposium coming to Toronto

Structural steel worker walking on girders roof
The first ever National Steel Symposium in Toronto will be a full day of discussions and sessions from industry experts featuring the latest news in steel design and construction.
Photo © Bigstock.com

The Canadian Institute of Steel Construction (CISC) will be holding its first ever National Steel Symposium in Toronto; the day will be packed with discussions and sessions from industry experts featuring the latest news in steel design and construction.

On Thursday, September 29, the event begins at 8 a.m., running until 5 p.m. at the Westin Harbour Castle, located at 1 Harbour Square.

Some of the topics that will be discussed include: ‘Bending Steel: What Is Possible?’, ‘Steel Trusses for Office Tower Construction’, and ‘Exciting Steel Projects: Their Steel Erection Challenges and Innovation Solutions.” Other sessions during the event range from building information modelling (BIM) and dispute resolution to seismic forces and sustainability. (One of the speakers is Melissa Lindsley of the American Galvanizers Association (AGA), who will be discussing the specification of coatings and galvanizing. To read her Construction Canada piece on hot-dip and zinc-rich paints , click here.)

Registration costs are $50 for consulting engineers, architects, students, and professors or $375 for other participants, plus tax.

The event is in conjunction with the CISC 87th annual conference and national design award program running from Tuesday, September 27 until Saturday, September 30.

To register or learn more about the event, click here.

Halifax library architects win global award for Danish project

Dokk111
Pictured above is Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects’ Dokk1 library in Aarhus, Denmark. The team was also behind the Halifax Central Library in Nova Scotia, which won the Governor General’s Medal.
Photo courtesy Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) named Aarhus, Denmark’s Dokk1 Library the 2016 Public Library of the Year.

Dokk1 became the first Danish library to win the award; it beat out the Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill-designed (SOM) Chinatown branch of the Chicago Public Library and two Australian projects: Geelong Library & Heritage Centre (designed by ARM architecture) and the Success Public Library (Bollig Design Group).

The project was designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, which is internationally known for its open and public approach to architecture. The firm has an extensive track-record of designing libraries, including the Halifax Central Library in Nova Scotia, which won the Governor General’s Medal  in Architecture and was designed in partnership with Fowler Bauld & Mitchell Ltd.

Completed in June 2015, Dokk1 opened as the largest public library in Scandinavia. It houses a citizen service centre, office space, automated parking for 1000 cars, and new harbour-side public squares. Situated at the mouth of the Aarhus River in one of the most prominent sites of the city centre, the 35,600-m2 (383,195-sf) building is designed as a place for exchanging knowledge and opportunities and a multicultural meeting point. Dokk1’s popularity was instant; within seven months of its opening it had welcomed a million visitors.

“Dokk1 is a covered urban square—an undulating landscape, which facilitates learning, knowledge sharing, innovation, and a sense of community,” said Kim Holst Jensen, senior partner of Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects. “Our goal has been to create a stimulating and dynamic environment at this unique location that fosters valuable and meaningful relationships between people; a cultural centre that everyone can see themselves in. Architecture, with all its supporting disciplines has served to fulfil this greater ambition and we have been overwhelmed by how the people of Aarhus have embraced Dokk1 since opening day.”

The jurors praised the project based on its unique and central location in the city; stating the library has become a key element in the forward-looking strategy for creating more life by the harbour, which used to be a practically deserted area.  They also found great architectural value in the simple and consistent choice of materials throughout the building, which adapts naturally to the harbour environment.

Further, the jurors said materials are of a high quality without being ostentatious, which makes the building stand out as a place of diversity with room for everybody.

For more information on the winner and the other recipients, click here.

Canadian housing starts trend increases in July

The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 201,936 units in July compared to 197,847 in June, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 201,936 units in July compared to 197,847 in June, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Photo courtesy CMHC

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) says housing starts totalled 201,936 units on an annualized basis last month, up from 197,847 units in June. Starts were also up on an actual basis, but the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) fell over the same period.

CMHC uses the trend measure—a six-month moving average of the monthly SAAR—to account for the considerable swings often seen in the monthly estimates and to obtain a more complete representation of the state of Canada’s housing market. The agency said analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, however, as it is largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market.

“July’s housing started to pick up pace, as construction strengthened in British Columbia and Ontario’s multi-unit segments,” said Aled ab Iorwerth, CMHC’s deputy chief economist. “This reflects strong demand for lower-priced homes and low inventories of completed and unsold new units.”

The standalone monthly SAAR for all areas in Canada was 198,395 units in July, down from 218,326 units in June. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 9.9 per cent in July to 182,620 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 13.3 per cent to 123,630 units in July, and the single-detached urban starts decreased by 1.8 per cent to 58,990 units.

In July, SAAR decreased in Québec, British Columbia, Ontario, and in Atlantic Canada, but increased in the Prairies.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15,775 units.

As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers objective housing research and information to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry.

Private construction activity slows as demand weakens

Canada’s private commercial and industrial construction activities fell in the second quarter, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Photo © Bigstock.com

Private commercial and industrial construction activities in Canada fell in the second quarter while housing activity moderated, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). However, the infrastructure sector showed continuing strength, and a majority of the qualified professionals responding to the group’s “Q2 2016 Canadian Construction Market Survey” are optimistic about its outlook in the year ahead.

According to RICS, 28 per cent more respondents reported a drop in private industrial workloads in Q2 rather than a rise, while a net balance of 16 per cent in private commercial workloads fell; a net balance of 55 per cent reported a drop in energy, oil, and gas construction workloads. In contrast, a net balance of 39 per cent saw infrastructure workloads increase in Q2, and three-fifths of respondents expect the sector to drive construction growth over the next year.

Breaking down the results by region, respondents expect prices in the Prairies and the Atlantic provinces to experience downward pressure. In contrast, prices in Ontario and British Columbia are predicted to continue rising. Two-thirds of respondents expect the former to see the strongest growth in construction over the next few years, followed by the latter with 22 per cent.

“The market in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is strong with the condominium market still booming along, especially downtown,” says Jeff Logan, senior estimator with Canadian Turner Construction Company in Toronto.

Outside the GTA, the Ontario market is not as strong in general with the exception of higher education construction. He attributes this to the new federal Post-secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF), Logan added, which will provide $2 billion over three years to support higher education infrastructure projects across Canada.

“Turner has seen strong interest from colleges and universities in these funds, based on the schools’ issuing request for quotations (RFQs) and request for proposal (RFPs) for projects on their campuses and engaging general contractors for which projects they would qualify if the institutions receive funding,” he adds.

Under the program, monies may be used to accelerate eligible construction, repair and maintenance activities.

As for factors limiting construction expansion, financial constraints and regulatory and planning delays remain the two most significant ones, with 58 per cent and 48 per cent of respondents reporting issues respectively. However, the proportion of contributors citing insufficient demand as an impediment to growth increased to 40 per cent in Q2—the highest since RICS began collecting data in 2013.

Ontario investing $300 million to repair Northern schools

Northern Ontario schools are to be kept in a state of good repair to a tune of $300 million by the government.
Photo © Bigstock.com

A total of $300 million will be used to help improve walls, floors, ceilings, HVAC units, electrical and plumbing systems, and playing fields for Northern Ontario schools.

Premier Kathleen Wynne made an announcement recently of a $120 million-investment (part of the overall figure) at Northern Heights Public School in Sault Ste. Marie, as part of her week-long visit to more than a dozen communities across the north. Northern Heights is currently undergoing a major renovation funded by a previously announced investment for school repairs in the Algoma District School Board. In addition, the four school boards serving the Sault Ste. Marie region will receive more than $62 million over two years—nearly $25 million more than originally budgeted.

“Through our record investment in infrastructure, we are repairing and renewing existing public schools in Northern Ontario and across our province,” Wynne said. “This investment will give school boards the tools they need to create safe and modern spaces where our kids can learn and excel.”

This funding is part of the largest public infrastructure investment in Ontario’s history—$160 billion over 12 years.

Education Minister, Mitzie Hunter said investing in schools is one of the most important infrastructure investments that can be made for nearly two million students across the province.

“Making sure schools across the province are in a state of good repair is an essential part of supporting student achievement,” Hunter said. “The investment announced today is great news for students, educators, communities, and the economy.”