Honouring sustainable infrastructure

Confederation Bridge, linking Prince Edward Island (PEI) to New Brunswick, is one of the few modern bridges specifically designed and built with a 100-year service life. Photo © BigStockPhoto/onepony.

As part of a major campaign to raise awareness about the country’s deteriorating public infrastructure and the importance of building more sustainably in the future, the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) is sponsoring the Award for Government Leadership in Sustainable Infrastructure.

Randy Pickle, CSCE president, says around 80 per cent of the public infrastructure in the country is close to the end of its useful life.

“The next generation of public infrastructure must be more durable, more adaptable to future needs, and minimize environmental and social impacts,” he said. “That’s what we mean by sustainable infrastructure—as opposed to the disposable infrastructure we have been building for the last half century. Civil engineers used to build for the long term. We can do that again, given the chance by public-sector decision-makers.”

Doug Salloum, the society’s executive director, said the need to build things right and the need to build the right things are pressing issues. He explained that billions of dollars of public money will be spent to rebuild the infrastructure.

“Canadians will have to spend in the range of $400 billion over the next generation to replace our failing public infrastructure,” Salloum told Construction Canada Online. “We need to get better value for our infrastructure investment this time around. Sustainable infrastructure has a longer service life, requires less maintenance, is adaptable to future needs, and is less environmentally or socially damaging. Civil engineers can build this kind of infrastructure if allowed to do so by the public sector. The design/construction industry should not be restrained to always provide the lowest capital cost option.”

Applications close December 15, and the award will be presented for the first time at the CSCE annual conference in Edmonton next June. For more information, visit www.csce.ca/leadershipaward.

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