Mind Your Footprint – Sustainable Design

July 24, 2018

Award Magazine, July 2018, by Natalie Bruckner-Menchelli

Sustainable design used to be a buzzword, now it’s almost a byword in the building industry. This concept no longer solely encompasses environmental sustainability, but also social issues, human health, and advances in technology.

Over the past year there have been dramatic changes within the sector, influenced largely by Canada’s commitment to a carbon-free economy as a result of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, whose approach includes considerations for making new buildings more energy efficient; retrofitting existing buildings; and supporting building codes and energy efficient housing in Indigenous communities.

Peter Kuo, team lead, mechanical at Williams Engineering agrees that codes are driving sustainable design forward. “We are seeing the impact in every aspect of design,” says Kuo. “In Vancouver for example, we now need to provide a Drainage Water Heat Recovery System in showers and sewers that recovers heat from water that would otherwise be lost.” He adds that for developers this of course means more money, and in a market like Vancouver where real estate prices are already high, this will have an impact on the buyer too, but that the benefits to the occupants will be huge due to the fairly quick payback time.

For engineers, this increasing focus on sustainable design means their expertise is needed from the very start of a project during rezoning. “We are doing a lot of education for developers, owners, and clients right from the get-go,” says Kuo. Williams has been working on a number of sustainable design projects, but one receiving most attention is 1400 Alberni Street in Vancouver. “When complete, this two-tower, 650,000-square-foot development will be the tallest Passive House project in the world. UBC is also leading by example and including aspects such as exterior insulation to reduce heat loss. The industry is still booming in Vancouver and we are seeing a lot of creative building design, both architecturally and engineering wise, and it is becoming a showcase to the world.”

Read the full article: Mind-Your-Footprint