Interior of the St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Mental Health Emergency Services Unit

The Mental Health Emergency Services Unit at St. Joseph’s Health Centre is the recipient of a 2020 Toronto IES Illumination Section Award. Congratulations to St. Joseph’s and the entire design team! HH Angus’ Lighting Design group was proud to have been involved with this project.

Energy-efficient LED lighting, complete with remotely located dimming controls, replaced the old, inefficient fluorescent fixtures. Remote control of lights in patient rooms provides increased staff security and convenience, and minimizes disturbance to patients. The design team consulted with hospital clinical staff, the architect and best practices in Mental Health design in order to provide tamper-proof and anti-ligature versions of lighting fixtures, M&E devices, and services. 

Click here to read more about the full scope of this project and some of its interesting design challenges.

COVID-19 Exterior view of the outbreak Response Facility

Earlier this month, HH Angus teamed up with Parkin Architects as part of a global group of volunteer healthcare designers organized through a partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Federation of Healthcare Engineering (IFHE)

These volunteers respond to requests from the WHO to quickly create design documents for emergency facilities to help hospitals and nations respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We were honoured to have the opportunity to contribute in the global efforts to battle the spread of COVID-19 with our most recent endeavour in Doba, Chad – nearly 10,000 km away from Toronto. Our mandate was to provide design guidance for the repurposing of three existing medical buildings into a facility with one building to handle suspected COVID-19 patients (those awaiting test results), and two buildings for inpatient treatment of COVID-19 positive patients. Our team followed WHO guidelines and provided the optimal design solution for patient care and the safety of staff and visitors, while balancing speed of constructability and simplicity of operation. We proposed several alterations to the existing buildings to address improved patient, staff and visitor circulation in order to mitigate spread of COVID-19, as well as changes to washroom facilities, expansion of the exterior open air arcade (covered walkways), additional doors, partitions and ante rooms.

A hybrid ventilation system was proposed where supply air for all rooms is provided using natural ventilation through building windows, and exhaust fans draw air from the patient rooms using an overhead duct system. The design of critical and severe patient rooms included an anteroom to provide a physical barrier to mitigate the risk of air transferring from the patient room into the corridor.

Despite the uncertainty that COVID has created for many industries, we’re appreciative that we can contribute our knowledge and expertise in healthcare design to help construct facilities to combat this pandemic in regions that may not have access to the same level of resources as we have in Canada.

Our HH Angus team, comprised of Michael Botros, Jessica Generoso, Laura Sisson, Kim Spencer and Tim Zhu, collaborating with Parkin Architects, put together a thoughtful design solution and report for the client, working to their key considerations on a short timeline (7 business days from beginning to end). It was a rewarding experience for our team and we’re looking forward to the next assignment!

Images credits: Daga/ Google

We’re excited to be part of the team, led by EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare (EDIH), that will build the new Bayers Lake Community Outpatient Centre in Nova Scotia. HH Angus’ Health Division will be providing mechanical consulting engineering services, working with Dillon Consulting in Halifax. This is the first P3 healthcare project in Nova Scotia, and will be an important facility for both the community and the entire province. According to Kim Spencer, HH Angus Health Division Director, “we’re very pleased to be able to support this new facility with HH Angus’ deep experience in the P3 delivery model, and proven track record in thoughtful healthcare design.”

The 134,000 ft2 Outpatient Centre will built on a 15-acre site in Halifax’s Bayers Lake Business Park. Planned services include primary care; clinics such as physio and occupational therapy; high blood pressure, diabetes and orthopedic assessment; 17 examination rooms; 24 dialysis stations; diagnostic imaging (x-rays and ultrasounds); blood collection; and post-surgery or post-treatment follow-up appointments.

Image courtesy of EDIH

As the economy slowly re-opens, businesses need to plan for restarting operations. Those who require their staff to work in a common location will need to ensure their employees, customers and partners feel safe and can trust that they will be returning to a healthy and clean work environment, both for the near future and for potential second or third waves of infection.

The spread of COVID-19 is generally understood to be through close proximity – by both droplets (within 1-2 meters) and surface transmission. There is little evidence at this time to support airborne transmission, but there is also no definitive proof it is not a contributing transmission path – transmission through HVAC systems is not adequately tested or documented and available resources (such as ASHRAE) appear to favour an abundance of caution in making any recommendations due to this lack of testing. Our engineers and technology strategists have been exploring the impact of COVID-19 on building design. Here are some considerations for building owners and tenants.

Improving Air Quality In a typical office building, indoor air is comprised of roughly 25% outdoor air. The rest is recirculated and filtered. It will be important to understand what upgrades may be necessary for the building’s HVAC and Building Automation System (BAS), as well as current and emerging technologies to enhance these systems. Simple building operation and system adjustments A first stage of re-entry can include the following, relatively simple adjustments to normal building operation:

  • Assess the amount of additional outdoor air for occupied and unoccupied modes of operation to permit increased air exchange in the tenant areas and disable demand-controlled ventilation schemes.
  • Review the volume of additional outdoor air that could be added to the system based on current system capacity and further open outdoor dampers to eliminate or reduce recirculation. In milder weather, this does not necessarily affect thermal comfort or humidity, but will become more difficult in extreme weather.
  • Assess the site for possible addition of energy recovery units to offset some of the operational costs associated with an increase in outdoor air.
  • Make necessary adjustments to building control sequences and changes to set points, such as humidity, to allow for temporary flushing or extended operation of systems.

Design and selection of various filter options for your air handling systems

  • Investigate solutions to retrofit or add enhanced filter technologies in existing air handling systems such as higher MERV-rated filters, High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, Active Particle Control filters, UVGI, and Bipolar Ionization.
  • Consider portable room air cleaners with HEPA filters.
  • Active Particle Control technology filters are claimed by their manufacturers to create collisions on a sub-micron level. This causes smaller particles to collide and stay together becoming larger, and providing the ability to collect the larger particles within normal MERV 13 or higher filters.
  • Consider ultraviolet germicidal irradiation to safely and effectively reduce bacteria, viruses and allergens, particularly in high-traffic areas such as lobbies, elevators, and cafeterias/kitchens.
  • Bipolar Ionization may also be a beneficial solution to improving air quality. Manufacturer literature states that it inactivates viruses and creates positively and negatively charged ions that attract to other particles and become bigger and heavier. These bigger heavier particles can now be better trapped by MERV 13 or higher-rated filters. Also, many small particles that are generated within a space will drop to the floor quickly, taking them away from where we breathe. It is imperative to understand that the above changes to system operations and addition of certain filter technology will have an associated impact to energy use and cost.

Cleaning of systems

  • Consider probiotic cleaning of existing coils and other components in contact with air streams.
  • Consider swabs of air handling unit interiors after cleaning and instantly test for presence of Covid-19.
  • Consider use of mobile and local air-cleaning solutions in congested areas.
  • Re-start and re-establish safe drinking water supply.
  • Establish process, protocols, and testing requirements for domestic water systems that have been stagnant during the COVID pandemic.

Technologies for Infection Control in Buildings  There are various technologies currently in use or emerging in the healthcare sector that could benefit and be applied to commercial real estate buildings. Real-time locating and monitoring systems

  • Hand hygiene compliance–technology such as infrared can be used to better monitor hand hygiene. Can be deployed at hand-washing stations and bathrooms.
  • Contact tracing apps can create a contact history log, based on location. They can allow you to accurately track the interactions between people, the facility and equipment. Knowing this information can help to slow the spread of the infection. However, there are privacy implications involved with contact tracing apps which should be carefully considered.
  • Occupancy sensors provide real-time information on occupancy and location to indicate whether social distancing or occupancy limits are being respected.
  • Building owners and tenants can also send instant communications and alerts through a mobile app to occupants, and provide information to first responders in case of emergencies, including specifying the exact location of the emergency.


  • UV lighting technology has improved to the degree that it can sanitize an unoccupied room in a few hours.
  • Cleaning robots (currently used in some hospitals) may become normal procedure to clean office buildings or hotels in off-peak hours.
  • Occupancy sensors can notify cleaning crews (or the aforementioned robots) that a particular area is vacant and can be sanitized before next use.

Touchless (Hands-free) control

  • To minimize potential infection from contaminated surfaces, occupants could utilize mobile apps (through their smartphones) to control security access/opening doors and elevator call. This could be rolled in with existing space management apps used for boardroom booking and office hoteling – which also play a role in effective social distancing.
  • Automated or proximity sensor door opening technology.

Social distancing

  • To better practice social distancing in the office environment, occupants may prefer to access amenities such as ordering food, dry cleaning notification, building gym occupancy, transit alerts and ride sharing services through an app – possibly one provided by the building owner that integrates in-building amenities and other local services.
  • Automated social distancing alerts through wearable technologies or smartphone apps.
How HH Angus Can Help Whether you are a building owner or tenant, we can help you plan your operational restart strategy. Specifically, we can:
  • Assess your HVAC systems and explore ways to minimize the impact of virus aerosols.
  • Work with the Facilities team to appropriately optimize building systems and controls.
  • Investigate and recommend technologies that can help mitigate the spread of infectious disease through sanitization, monitoring, social distancing and other means.
HH Angus has been involved in the design of healthcare facilities (both new construction, renovation/retrofits, expansions and maintenance) for over 75 years. We are a leader and innovator in all aspects of healthcare design. Our knowledge of hospital design and how to address challenges such as infectious disease control can be effectively leveraged into other sectors such as office buildings, retail, hospitality, educational facilities, airports, transit stations, entertainment centres and more. As well, many of HH Angus’ technical staff are actively involved in committees and associations that are continually developing industry standards for construction and renovation, including the CSA’s HVAC Standard, and the Catastrophic Events section of CSA Z8000 – Canadian Healthcare Facilities. On the technology front, our Angus Connect division is focused technology, including smart buildings technology, and is a leader in providing technology strategy and implementation in healthcare facilities. To learn more contact:

Kevin O’NeillP.Eng., LEED® AP
Commercial Director

Evan joined HH Angus in 2018, and is an Engineering Designer working with our Health Division.

Tell us your favourite thing about working at HH Angus.

This is an easy question – it is definitely the people! Within the first few months, I got this strong feeling of community and support from everyone. I found that everybody is happy to take the time to listen to any questions you have and always willing to help and to explain new design concepts. It came as no surprise to me that, within short time, you start to refer to your colleagues as your HH Angus family.  

What drew you to HH Angus and consulting coming out of school?

Consulting was an attractive option coming out of school. It allowed me to combine the technical engineering I’d been learning with some of the business-related aspects that go along with consulting, such as project management, coordination, working with clients and meeting their needs – that definitely made consulting attractive. As far as why HH Angus, the long history of the firm and the high-profile project list made it an attractive option; it was definitely a good sign to me to see all those accomplishments.

Where did you hear about the new grad openings at HH Angus?

It was through my university’s website. When I spoke with people from my program, they knew students who had done coop terms with HH Angus, and they gave the firm high reviews. So, it definitely got me excited to apply.

How do you personally contribute to design and construction here at the company? 

I started on the design side, working behind the scenes, running simple duct sizing calculations or working in CAD and building my foundation of the design knowledge that we use every day. Today, I am in a design-construction role for the Royal Inland Hospital project, living and working in Kamloops BC. I get to work with our design team and coordinate the actual design that is ongoing as we are building a hospital here. We also investigate site-related issues or as-built conditions that may need to be accommodated. I am helping with the design and coordinating with the construction, and I’m really enjoying this new role. 

So you are there working with the construction and contractors?

It has been interesting so far to see the other side of the work, which I used to see only from the design perspective. I am attending all the contractor’s meetings now, so I see a more holistic approach, where we need to not only focus on the best way to design the system but also focus on what will work for constructors, and to take that into consideration in the design process.

How has working at HH Angus helped you grow your career?

HH Angus has been a fantastic place to begin and grow my career in consulting. It has provided me with solid foundation to develop my engineering design knowledge. In addition, it has allowed me to receive a gradual introduction to those important business-related skills: whether it’s coordinating a project or liaising with the client, it’s been a great introduction to develop my fundamental technical knowledge while exposing me to some of the behind-the-scenes activities that our business is rooted in. 

What made you want to become an engineer or a designer?

My love for engineering came from my grandfather. He was a civil engineer. As I grew up and did more research, I learned that behind the engineering is finding the solution. That’s what engineering is! I found that I love to be handed challenges and then work out the solution within the unique constraints of that issue. Doing that is often challenging, but you feel rewarded after, when you are able to come up with the best possible solution. Getting to do that on a daily basis, when every day you face a new challenge or problem, that makes the work exciting.

As I grew up and did more research, I learned that behind the engineering is finding the solution. That’s what engineering is!

What are some of the projects that you are most proud to be involved in at HH Angus?

Working here in Kamloops on the Royal Inland Hospital project blew everything else out of the water. Getting this opportunity and seeing the value that it has for society makes me proud to know that I am contributing to the overall healthcare system of the country. We are not front line workers, but knowing that the work that I am doing will contribute to people’s lives being saved, ensuring that the building operates as it should and that all the systems keep running – that makes me proud of this project.

How has HH Angus' mobility program helped you with your new role in Kamloops?

Being given the opportunity to move across the country was a dream come true for me. Combining my love for new experiences with the new responsibilities and exposure associated with this role, I knew I had to jump on this opportunity. HH Angus' mobility program helped make my cross-country move seamless, with the numerous support measures and resources that were provided. That level of support still remains to this day and it almost feels as if I still work in the Toronto office

Is what you are doing at HH Angus what you expected to be doing when you graduated?

If you were to tell me two years ago that I would be on the other side of the country working on a construction site solving all these as-built and construction issues as they arise, I definitely would not have thought it would be the case! But, in terms of daily problem solving and those things that made me want to become an engineer, I am definitely doing that and getting the opportunities to solve challenges.

Evan's life

Evan's life in Kamloops

What are some of the things that you like about HH Angus, aside from work?

It does not apply so much here in Kamloops, but before I transferred out here, I would say the extracurricular activities that go on throughout the company. Whether it is the Friday afternoon hockey games, softball or volleyball … I love that. I looked forward to those days every single week. It really helped me grow friendships within the company, and it just makes showing up to work that much better when you can ask someone if they are excited for the game later, or chat about upcoming events and how it went last week, or go out and enjoy a beer afterwards. I really, really enjoy that.

What’s the best thing that you’ve learned on the job?

Perseverance. We’d all like to paint our job as some walk through the park with rainbows, but we can find ourselves in difficult situations that require hard work and critical thinking to get to a solution.  I find perseverance leads to success in the end - learning to push through those tough times.

What is your proudest moment here?

The proudest moment I’ve had so far happened when I had been at HH Angus only a few months.  I was working on generator report for a client, and it had been weeks and weeks of research, report writing, formatting, and implementing client feedback. The proudest moment was at the end, after I had poured hundreds of hours into this deliverable. We got the feedback from the client on the final report and it was glowing. They were so appreciative of all our work, they loved the content, and they were happy with the depth of detail. We received high praise.  Meanwhile, I was still at an entry-level role in the company. To have received such high praise directly from the client and knowing the hard work I had put into this report, that definitely was a very proud moment and I felt really good about it.

Tell us about an experience when a senior staff helped you, maybe early on in your career.

When I started working with my manager in Tech, he was always sharing wisdom with me, whether simple design tips or how to succeed in our role as engineers, things to look out for, and also life advice. When I told him about this current opportunity in Kamloops, he told me to jump all over it, that it would be a great experience for me. Having someone who is able to share their knowledge and experience with you has been really great, and it definitely molded me into the person that I am today with the firm. Numerous times, just having good advice passed down has helped me and led to my success.

When you are out with friends who don’t work in the industry, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you start describing the company?

We design electrical and mechanical systems for various buildings, from data centers to healthcare facilities and more. But, it’s not just the work. I also describe it as this fun-loving place where it feels like everyone is just hanging out together. You are surrounded by good company and you enjoy spending the day with your work friends; a lot of people get jealous when they hear that. All the extracurriculars that we do and all the fun that I have participating in them – everyone has a hard time believing that I leave work at noon on Fridays to go play hockey for an hour and the day is done after that. Just one of the many benefits of our flex-time policy!

You are surrounded by good company and you enjoy spending the day with your work friends; a lot of people get jealous when they hear that.

What inspires you?

Being able to make a difference. Sometimes it’s hard to see the direct impact your work has on a project and it is not until the structure is being built and the building is operating that you are going to see the impact that you made. In some cases, you are just add air conditioning into the building and it goes unnoticed for most of the people. But being able to make a difference and knowing that you put hard work into these system designs, providing solutions that keep the client happy, using the latest technologies – it’s rewarding even though you may not be getting direct recognition from end users. It’s knowing that the work you are doing is having an impact; that inspires me to work harder and think a little more critically versus taking the easiest route.

What are some of the trends and tech that excite you the most?

For me, it’s the increased awareness around energy and efficient operations of our systems. For example, I didn’t realize how much thought and effort needs to go into coming up with complex design sequencing in order to run air handing units. It may not necessarily be new technology but it is utilizing new and emerging methods of energy conservation and energy recovery, and we’re discovering how to incorporate those into the design. That’s what gets me and other people on this current project excited. It is a lot of work, and you definitely have to start thinking in new creative ways. But it is exciting to help build the future and make a difference on the energy front.

What skills or trait have helped you the most to advance in your career?

Communication skills - engineering is a discipline where people understand how things work, but being able to effectively communicate your understanding and your ideas - how you see things in your head - is an important part of what we do. Having strong communication skills has definitely led to my success on projects.

Is there something people will be surprised to learn about you?

I have a big appreciation for classical music, and jazz and blues … something not popular in my age group. I have appreciation for arts, I love taking time to visit museums.