Canadian Consulting Engineer

Awards Show Engineers In Green Light

In his introduction to the 2009 Canadian consulting engineering awards, professor Ron britton, p. Eng., concludes, "I believe we [the jury members] all went home with the reinforced conviction that ou...

October 1, 2009   Canadian Consulting Engineer

In his introduction to the 2009 Canadian consulting engineering awards, professor Ron britton, p. Eng., concludes, “I believe we [the jury members] all went home with the reinforced conviction that our colleagues in the consulting world are, in many different ways, making our world a better place” (p. 23).

We could just as well say that engineers today are concerned about “keeping” the world a better place –I. E. Keeping it as ecologically intact and healthy as possible. Indeed, it’s a mark of our times that we are so concerned about the health of our planet that green design should receive special recognition. This year we are excited to announce the second tree of life award. This special award was launched last year specifically to honour a project that demonstrates outstanding environmentally responsibility.

What is striking about both the tree of life award and the schreyer award winners is that the engineers have designed the projects almost organically, that is, they use one system to feed into another, creating an ecological package that reduces the need for external resources and reduces emissions. For the interlake recreation centre in warren, Manitoba that won the schreyer award, for example, tower engineering have orchestrated the geothermal systems, building envelope, refrigeration and hvac systems to work together for energy efficiencies. The winner of the tree of life award, a project by amec to bioremediate an agricultural-petroleum storage site, has actually used one of the sources of contamination to treat a second contaminant. We see a similar synergetic approach in most of the other award-winning projects.

On another subject, we’re happy to hear that acec has reclaimed the term “consulting” in its name (p. 18). Two years ago the association known since its inception as the association of consulting engineers of Canada became the “association of Canadian engineering companies.” however, it is now to be called the “association of consulting engineering companies.”

One of the reasons acec had given for dropping “consulting” was that the term had fallen into disrepute in Canada thanks to scandals over consultants taking advantage of the public purse. The current e-health scandal in Ontario hasn’t improved things, with the media blasting outrage about private consultants being paid $3,000 a day yet charging on top of that for biscuits and tea, about contracts being awarded to consulting firms without competitive bidding, and about a lack of concrete results despite the hefty fees charged.

Nevertheless, the term “consulting engineer” is a distinguished one and has been proudly carried by this magazine as its title for 50 years, and by the awards that we have co-sponsored with acec for 41 years. Continuity is important for building public awareness, and we maintain that if there has been confusion over what consulting engineers do and who they are –which was another reason given for dropping “consulting” –then we just have to do a better job of promoting the name and the value of the work in all quarters. The Canadian consulting engineering awards are one of the best ways of achieving that public relations goal.

Bronwen Parsons


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