Canadian Consulting Engineer

Up Front (December 01, 2008)

December 1, 2008
By Canadian Consulting Engineer


J. L. Richards’ project wins Holcim Sustainability Award

A water research centre in Sudbury, Ontario has won the Bronze award in the North American round of the Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction. The Holcim Foundation announced the winners in Montreal on October 17. Consulting firm J. L. Richards & Associates of Sudbury and Busby Perkins & Will Architects of Vancouver are in charge of the design.

The Holcim awards are held on a three-year cycle and come with substantial prize money — $2 million in total. Almost 5,000 projects were entered globally this year. The process begins with parallel competitions held in different world regions, and then the top three winners go on to compete for the international prize.

In the North American awards, the $100,000 Gold award went to the Solar 2 Green Energy Arts Centre in Manhattan, New York, and the silver prize of $50,000 went to the Day Labour Station in San Francisco.

The Canadian Bronze-winning project ($25,000) is the Living with Lakes Centre at Laurentian University. The research and exhibition centre is to be built at Lake Ramsey near the university campus beginning next spring. It will be used by researchers to monitor the water quality throughout the region and to measure the impacts of different technologies.

Besides being co-architects (Jeffrey Laberge), J. L. Richards is doing mechanical, civil and structural design. Others on the team are Fast & Epp (structural), Stantec (mechanical) and K. Lang (electrical).

Two other Canadian projects won Acknowledgement Prizes of $20,000 each. One was the Evergreen Brick Works heritage site revitalization off the Bayview Extension in Toronto. With Joe Lobko and du Toit Allsopp Hillier in the lead, the project team includes Diamond and Schmitt, ERA, Claude

Cormier, Halsall, Stantec, Totten Sims Hubicki, Leber Rubes, MMM, Dougan & Associates and BA Group.

The second Acknowledgement Prize went to the revitalization of the North Vancouver Outdoor School and site in Squamish, B. C. by Larry McFarland Architects, with Equilibrium and Stantec doing engineering.

The Holcim Awards for Europe and Africa have also recently been announced. The global results are scheduled for next May in Switzerland.


Changes coming with 2009 Canadian Electrical Code

In January, the Canadian Standards Association is launching a new version of the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) Part 1 for the installation and maintenance of electrical equipment. The 2009 CEC is said to contain some of the most significant changes ever, incorporating 108 revisions and 14 new interpretations. The provinces and territories, as well as the federal government, refer to the CEC in their building codes, so changes will have a wide impact.

At a preview, Stephen Brown, a director of CSA, explained that they have accelerated the process of revising the code to a three-year cycle. This should help keep up with changing technologies and will bring the CEC in-line with the U. S. National Electrical Code.

Brown cited important changes in the 2009 code. For example:

• new requirements for additional seals for electrical equipment mechanically connected to piping containing flammable liquids or gases;

• recognition of new cable types such as communication under carpet and cross-connect wires and cables;

• updates to motor overload protection requirements related to motors installed in hazardous locations;

• a rewrite of Section 46 to recognize that non-life safety equipment may be connected to an emergency power system, and to clarify how it may be connected without compromising life safety system performance.

Another major change in 2009 is the addition of Part IV, an objective based electrical code. It was an initiative started by the oil and gas industry in Alberta, Brown explained, and is intended for industrial users that have large installations and require flexibility in their equipment.

For the first time the code is being issued in a hand-held mobile device format as well as on CD and in print form. CSA is the first code organization worldwide to move to this mobile format.


Edmonton Federal Building To Be Transformed

Following a competition, Alberta Infrastructure has selected a team to refurbish and transform its landmark Federal Building.

Located on the Edmonton legislature grounds, the 1954 building has been unoccupied for almost a decade. It is to undergo “a contemporary transformation,” keeping its current art deco style. An adjacent parking lot will become a new public plaza extending to 99th Avenue, with an underground parkade.

Kasian of Edmonton is prime consultant, and the team will include engineering companies Stantec (structural and civil), Hemisphere (mechanical), Beaubien Glover Maskell (electrical) and Building Science Engineering (envelope). Goldsmith Borgal is the heritage architect and Moriyama & Teshima is doing urban design.

Construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011.


Engineering is a hard and cold endeavor

Based upon recent editions of Canadian Consulting Engineer (and other engineering journals) there appears to be a powerful movement within the universities and elsewhere for a paradigm shift in the noble profession of engineering.

The argument is that engineers must actively respond not only to their immediate client, but also to their understanding of the broader needs of society. Fair enough — one can understand both the impulse and the advantages of this approach. What I have never seen discussed are the potential negatives of such an approach.

A valuable part of engineering presently does have clients and imperatives that represent the needs of society. Nevertheless a characteristic feature of much of engineering is that it is a hard and cold endeavor that simply responds to a specification. Any shift from this emphasis would tend to make engineering not much more than a soft social science. That may be just fine for certain aspects of engineering, but as a foundation for the whole profession it is unquestionably a grave mistake.

We can learn from other professions which, to varying degrees, have adopted or attempted to adopt a so-called social responsibility. It is crucial to note that it is precisely those areas of each profession that are generally held in disrepute by the public. Law, teaching and journalism are examples. Journalism started out as a noble profession where the goal was to accurately report the news — with opinions carefully separated from facts. Journalists now overwhelmingly see themselves as social activists with the net result that the profession is no longer respected; and important issues [are] not discussed.

By all means teach engineers the fundamental needs of society, such as sustainability — that is, one would think, axiomatic. But that does not appear to be the goal. The approach seems to be evangelical and political — surely things to be vigorously avoided by a prudent and analytical profession.

Geoff Francis, P. Eng. Vision Engineering & Design Oakville, Ont.

Incrementally launched girder bridge not a “first”

Re. Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards of Excellence, October-November 2008

The award-winning Park Bridge at the Kicking Horse Canyon (pp. 45-46) is a magnificent structure built in rugged and sensitive terrain — a well-deserving prize-winner!

The article states, however, that Park Bridge also represents “the first North American application of an incrementally launched curved girder bridge” (Intro. p. 22 & p. 46).

I believe this statement is incorrect as the first such application, at least in Ontario, was the Region of Durham, W. A. Twelvetrees Bridge (five spans, four lanes, 320 metres). It was
designed by Geoff Aleong, P. Eng. of Totten Sims Hubicki Associates, now part of AECOM. It was constructed in 1993, and was itself a winner of the Award of Merit in 1994, and the 1993 Canadian Institute of Steel Construction’s Ontario Steel Design Award. John Campbell, P. Eng. Manager, Building Services AECOM, Whitby, Ont. Energy incentives not A luxury

Re. ‘Energy retrofit incentives included in U. S. Congress debt recovery package,”

Website Daily News, October 15.

Your article regarding the decision by the U. S. Congress to maintain energy conservation retrofit incentives for buildings in the face of other unprecedented economic relief measures appears to suggest that these incentives are somehow a luxury that is being tolerated in spite of other pressing financial imperatives.

The reality is that America’s dependence on huge volumes of imported carbon fuels is one of the greatest destabilizers of the U. S. economy, as well as the economies of many other nations. Leon Wasser P. Eng. President,GreenMarketCanada.comToronto

Canadian Consulting Engineer welcomes readers’ comments to articles either in the print magazine or on our website, the editor,


Gnivar buys again

Gnivar of Montreal has acquired three small consulting engineering firms in Quebec that work in the structural and municipal infrastructure sectors. They are, Consultants Gniplus of Montreal, Nageco of Montreal, and Consumaj Estrie of Sherbrooke. In total the aquired firms have 25 employees.


Robert Gomes

PEOPLE Stantec to have new CEO

Stantec has announced that a new president and chief executive officer will take over from Tony Franceschini, P. Eng.

Ron Triffo, chair of Stantec’s board of directors, announced that Robert (Bob) Gomes, a 20- year veteran employee of Stantec, will succeed Franceschini in May next year. Gomes is currently senior vice president of Stantec’s industrial and project management group. Franceschini will continue as a member of Stantec’s board of directors.

PROFESSION France and Quebec

At the Francophone summit in Quebec City in September, the Ordre des ingnieurs du Quebec (OIQ) became the first Canadian province to ratify a mobility agreement with France to allow mutual recognition of engineers in each country.

INFRASTRUCTURE Infrastructure dollars create jobs

A study cited by the Canadian Federation of Municipalities shows that $1 billion spent on infrastructure, “would produce more jobs and a greater economic stimulus than a combined $2-billion tax reduction.”



York Region withholding fees

Some Ontario consulting engineers are having their fees withheld by one of their major clients, the Regional Municipality of York. The region is withholding payment of fees at its sole discretion when it deems that services have been unsatisfactory — even fees related to unrelated projects.

John Gamble, P. Eng., president of ACEC-Ontario, says he finds the situation is distressing because it is creating “a business climate that we cannot sustain with our fees.” He suggests that while clients sometimes do insist on the right to withhold fees, it’s rare for them to act upon that right.

ACEC-Ontario is advising firms not to respond to proposals where the client has authority to withhold fees at its sole discretion without firms first carefully considering the risks and consulting their lawyers and insurers.

CEA excited about Reveal

Alberta architects have formed a new association entitled Reveal to represent the business interests of architectural firms.

Consulting Engineers of Alberta (CEA) is “excited” about the formation of this group with similar advocacy interests as its own, and is looking forward to collaborating with Reveal on all fronts.


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