On-Site Magazine

From the editor: future-proofing infrastructure

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December 14, 2017 by Corinne Lynds

“When people tell me they don’t believe in climate change. I ask them: ‘Do you believe in gravity? The destructive power of climate change is the same as the strength and reality of gravity,” stated climate change guru Christian Figueres during a CCPPP keynote address in Toronto.

Corinne Lynds, Editor

Figueres, who is the former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talked to contractors, engineers, owners, and architects about future-proofing public infrastructure.

She offered a somber warning that we are running out of time to act on climate change, but quickly followed that up with a potential solution. “We need to change how we invest in infrastructure.”

The cost to build infrastructure that addresses climate change is only 5 to 8 per cent more than the status quo. And once you factor in efficiencies and longer life expectancies of new materials and technologies, it’s actually cheaper in the long run. This will future-proof buildings in two key ways: 1) The structure of the buildings will be designed and built to withstand extreme weather events over longer periods of time; and 2) It will significantly reduce the “nearly 70 per cent of GHG emissions that hard infrastructure currently accounts for,” according to Figueres.

“There is a huge construction opportunity here,” she said. “We still have a lot of new infrastructure that needs to be built.”

Canadian contractors should be salivating at the opportunity this creates. Our global population is growing, more and more people are moving into urban areas, and at the same time, government is investing heavily in infrastructure. If this alone were not a juicy enough thought, take a closer look at existing infrastructure, it too will need replacing soon.

Contractors that embrace sustainable practices will make the single-greatest impact in lowering GHG emissions, and grow their businesses.

In order to do this, however, they need to partner with designers, architects, governments and equipment suppliers. With the right partnerships we have the opportunity to build smart, sustainable cities.

This being our annual Construction Forecast issue issue, we are looking ahead to 2018 with an eye on innovation. New materials, technologies, delivery models, and designs will drive business and potentially reduce GHG emissions in the coming year.
I wish you the happiest of holiday seasons, and all the best for a prosperous and sustainable New Year.

Corinne Lynds / Editor

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