Canadian Consulting Engineer

Up Front (October 01, 2010)

October 1, 2010
By Canadian Consulting Engineer


New bridge on World Heritage Site

Delcan are the engineers of a new bridge under construction over the Rideau Canal and Rideau River at the south end of Ottawa. The bridge connects Strandherd Drive and Earl Armstrong Road at a point where the canal and river run together.

The design was critical because the Rideau Canal is designated as a national Historic Site in Canada and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The bridge therefore had to meet strict aesthetic guidelines, which were developed by DuToit Allsopp Hillier (DTAH) Architects of Toronto. For example, the bridge had to “respond to the history of engineering innovation on the Rideau Canal,” and it had to be as transparent and open as possible.

The final design has been embraced “enthusiastically” by authorities on behalf of the United Nations’ UNESCO and the Canadian governments. The bridge has three arches with a main span of 125 metres. The arches support a suspended structural steel grillage that supports a deck approximately 50 metres wide. The bridge carries vehicles and pedestrians, and allows boat passage below.


Post Stimulus, What Now?

On September 27 the federal government announced that 97% of the projects funded by Canada’s Economic Action Plan were either under way or had been completed. But Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said there is still another $22 billion in federal stimulus funding to be delivered in 2010-2011. The government announced that the program had produced 430,000 new jobs since July 2009, which brought employment numbers back to where they were before the recession.

Activity at construction sites across Canada is frantic as contractors hurry to complete projects in time for the March 2011 cut-off for stimulus funding. The government is, however, hinting that it may be flexible about the deadline in some cases.

At the CanaData/Reed Construction Industry Forecasts Conference held on September 23 in Toronto, economist Alex Carrick said that the question for the Canadian construction industry is what’s going to happen after the federal stimulus program ends. He asked whether the private sector will become fully engaged again, suggesting that while a cyclical recovery will be kicking in, it won’t bring huge amounts of work.

Carrick’s forecast for construction investment in current dollars for all new construction shows only 2.8% growth in 2011, compared to 7.4% growth in 2010.

His forecast for the engineering sector for 2011 is 4.5% growth in dollar terms. This compares with 12.7% growth this year. For 2012 he forecasts 7.3%, and for 2013 he forecasts 9.8% growth. Alberta and Ontario currently have most engineering activity, with Alberta at $31.4 billion in engineering construction investment and Ontario at $19 billion. B.C.’s engineering investment is $15.4 billion and Quebec’s is $14.6 billion.

Transportation accounts for 18% of the Canadian investment in engineering construction. Water and sewage works account for 6%. Energy projects account for 12%, and marine, mining and “other” account for 11%. Communications represents 2%, leaving the lion’s share in the oil and gas sector at 51%.

In looking at specific markets, Carrick noted that the inventory of condominiums is too high and “ripe for correction.”


EPCOR changes Edmonton skyline

The $200-million, 28-storey EPCOR tower under construction in Edmonton is the first high-rise office tower built in the Alberta capital in more than two decades.

Situated just north of the core near the city hall, the tower will have 623,900 square feet of leaseable space. It represents the first phase of the Station Lands development, a 9-acre parcel of land on former railway lands on which a developer is envisioning building 2.5 million square feet of multi-use high-rises.

Kasian is the prime consultant for the new tower, with AECOM as structural, mechanical, electrical and civil engineering consultant. Other consultants include Building Science Engineering, Integrated Designs, Leber Rubes, Bunt and Associates, EIDOS Consultants and Stantec.

Canada’s selection team for the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment (iiSBE) has picked the tower as a poster project for next year’s Sustainable Buildings 2011, in Helsinki, Finland. Its green features include earth tubes to pre-cool or pre-heat incoming air, and a recycled water system.


From LEED AP to Specialists

The Green Building Certification Institute in the U.S. is contacting LEED Accredited Professionals (APs) in Canada to see whether they are interested in applying for specialist designations. The LEED AP credentials, which were launched in the U.S. at the beginning of this year, require candidates to take exams in their area of expertise.

The specialist categories so far are in BD + C (building design and construction), ND (neighbourhood development); Homes; O+M (operations and maintenance) and ID+C (interior design and construction).

The Green Building Certification Institute is in Washington, DC and was established in 2009. The Canada Green Building Council and U.S. Green Building Council promote and run LEED programs, but the GBCI is now the third party organization to oversee and verify the LEED process and certifications in both countries.


Big Firms get Bigger

AECOM is to acquire RSW, a large Quebec consulting engineering company based in Montreal. RSW has 550 employees and works extensively in the energy sector with projects around the world.

Stantec has announced it is planning to become one of the world’s leading architecture practices. Late this summer it announced an intention to acquire Burt Hill, an architecture and engineering firm based in Pennsylvania with over 600 employees and 13 offices. Around the same time, Stantec also said it is acquiring Anshen + Allen, an architecture firm with 200 employees, which is based in San Francisco.


Construct Canada -December 1-2

Canada’s largest construction show, Construct Canada, will have over 1,000 exhibits this year and educational sessions featuring 450 speakers.

The 22nd annual conference will be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre South Building.

Seminars will cover a wide range of topics, including project delivery and smart business practices.

The conference is being held concurrently with Concrete Canada and the National GreenBuilding Conference. The latter will focus on sustainable and energy efficient best practices for the design and construction of all types of buildings.

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The Academy and Dr. Suzuki

The Canadian Academy of Engineering has joined with the David Suzuki Foundation and the Trottier Family Foundation in a project to map out the future of energy production in Canada. The Trottier Energy Futures Project aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.


Cook stoves and brown clouds

The United Nations Environment Program has launched a program to dramatically boost the efficiency of 3 billion cook stoves across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Inefficient wood stoves are blamed for approximately 25% of the world’s emissions of black carbon, or soot. It is estimated that black carbon could be responsible for 10-40% of current climate change.

Black carbon is also contributing to “brown clouds,” which are making cities in Asia up to 25% dimmer than they were half a century ago and could be harming agriculture.

The UN’s new “Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves” will help fund more efficient charcoal stoves, and cookers powered by solar energy.


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