Tech people looking at buildings

Akira Jones – Director of Digital Services, and Teresa Valentino-Wills, Human Resources Director from HH Angus join us to discuss the skills and qualities the next generation of designers and engineers will need to thrive in a rapidly evolving and increasingly technical industry. Akira and Teresa also talk about what HH Angus looks for with respect to hard and soft skills, important personal attributes, and what “fit” means. Definitely a “must listen” podcast whether you are currently in school, a new graduate or already working in the industry.

Episode 3 "Skills for the Next Generation of Consulting Engineers" — H.H. Angus and Associates Ltd. (hhangus.com)

Recently, the British Columbia Construction Roundtable hosted the ‘Electrify BC Roundtable’ in Vancouver. The event focused on the role of electrification in decarbonizing the built environment, as well as the electrification of buildings and energy infrastructure. Attendees were treated to informative presentations from Creative EnergyBC Hydro and the City of Vancouver. HH Angus co-sponsored the event with Creative Energy. What follows are a few key takeaways from the Roundtable, courtesy of our low carbon energy specialists who attended the event.

The Zero carbon step code takes effect in BC on May 1, 2023. Four new GHG emission levels are being introduced, similar to the BC Energy Step Code. The intent is to reduce the consumption of natural gas used by buildings by moving towards electrification.

Electrification of buildings and energy infrastructure is gaining momentum fast. BC Hydro is making significant investments in distribution infrastructure and working with the province and municipalities on policies to incentivize moving away from fossil fuel energy sources to low or zero-carbon sources.

Good progress is being made in the decarbonization of new construction, and policies are coming from the City of Vancouver to address decarbonization of existing buildings.

The roundtable was a great opportunity to get a big-picture sense of the industry and how various stakeholders are looking at decarbonization.  It’s obvious that a lot is happening in both the public and private sectors.  One of the concerns facing developers is the cost and availability of power.

The Roundtable’s main focus was on electrification of buildings, and the challenges in scaling up distribution:

  • Capacity is there at the system level but distribution at the local level, particularly in high growth areas, requires more focus and development
  • Funding schemes are being reconsidered to help reduce the burden on developments while still protecting ratepayers
  • Current generating capacity can accommodate growth until 2030
  • Some numbers with the BCH electrification plan – 3100 GWh added, 930000 tons of CO2 reduced, 1.6% rate reductions
  • BC Hydro is introducing a voluntary time of day tariff to incentivize reduction in peak loads
  • A lot of natural gas is still in use – approximately half of residential buildings and two-thirds of family homes are heated with natural gas

Creative Energy provided insights on their various projects, including reporting a reduction in carbon by ~40,000 tons of CO2 per year once electrification project is complete. Other Creative Energy projects include waste heat recovery, ocean heat exchange, geo-exchange and, for downtown, they are looking at high-lift heat pumps and steam-to-hot water heat exchangers

The City of Vancouver has the most aggressive targets and is implementing not just the ZEPB (Zero Emissions Plan for Buildings). One of its priorities is to focus on reducing the building loads (i.e. conservation) and finding cleaner energy sources, not just electricity but other district energy solutions (sewage heat recovery, Burnaby incinerator heat recovery for River District). The monitoring of emissions and energy consumption of existing buildings will become mandatory in the city via the Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool for tracking. It will target existing multi-family residential buildings after 2024, and existing commercial buildings larger than 1000 ft2 after 2026. 

For more information on HH Angus’ low carbon and net zero carbon solutions, please contact lowcarbon@hhangus.com.

Ian McRobie

P.Eng., CEM, EGBC, LEED AP BD+C  

Halley O’Byrne

P.Eng., LEED AP

Two of our energy specialists took part in last week’s IDEA (International District Energy Association) Campus Energy 2023 conference in Texas – Mike Hassaballa and Halley O’Byrne. The conference provided a forum for innovative approaches to solving energy and decarbonization needs at the district scale. Here are a few of their conference takeaways on campus district energy (DE) systems.

Heat pump technology

Several manufacturers are warming up to the idea of bringing  higher temperature heat pumps, traditionally used in industrial applications, to the commercial/institutional sector at reasonable costs.

Biomass

Biomass from sustainable forestry operations could offer a good, cost-effective alternative to sectors currently using dirty fuel sources, such as oil heating. This can be effective in areas where natural gas and electricity are not available at low cost, such as in eastern Canada, and could potentially provide a useful forest management tool. Additionally, a properly-designed biomass energy-generation system, in conjunction with carbon sequestration and a well-managed fuel harvesting program, can result in a carbon-negative solution, with potential to recover costs via offsets.

U.S. Inflation Reduction Act

This act in the US offers a huge incentive for low carbon solutions. What was striking to us is the proposed hydrogen tax credit of 0.6 $/kg. For those looking at hydrogen economics, this is significant.

Low Carbon Financials

Many case studies and presentations at the conference stressed the fact that effective low carbon energy master planning requires extensive work on the business case - from cost to life cycle cost analysis and financial risk analysis. This process extends beyond the financial to include social aspects such as broadening awareness and stakeholder mobilization, and that professional facilitation is required to make the social aspect work.

Next Gen District Energy Technology

Some institutions are starting to look into next generation  solutions for transitioning to more sustainable heating and cooling infrastructure,  such as small modular reactors (SMRs) and micro-nuclear power plants (think shipping container size and capacity as low as 1MW), as well as Deep Geothermal. However, there is alack of awareness that needs to be addressed and work to be done on building up basic knowledge of what these technologies are, their costs, and relevance to North American markets. Though these solutions are technically feasible, safe, and potentially economical, establishing appropriate regulatory frameworks and garnering sufficient public awareness do pose a challenge to their implementation.

Existing Infrastructure

There were also affirmations of more developed pathways to electrification, such as efficiency improvements for existing plants and optimization strategies to incrementally decarbonize. These approaches all take into account local needs, regulatory conditions, resource availability, incentive programs and other constraints and tools that help define the appropriate combination of solutions for particular sites.

Across the technologies and project examples, there were some common themes. Establishing current baseline performance to set appropriate targets and benchmarks, proper master planning and feasibility analysis, stakeholder engagement (including garnering public acceptance), alignment of values and interests, and diligence in creating any project are all needed to achieve successful outcomes, regardless of the technology involved.

For more information on HH Angus’ low carbon/net zero carbon solutions, please contact lowcarbon@hhangus.com.

 

Mike Hassaballa, P.Eng.

 

Halley O’Byrne, P.Eng.

Image of trade show display with copy, expanding the possible, AWS conference recap

The AWS re:Invent conference is THE conference for those actively implementing IoT and cloud computing solutions for their own business or for clients’ operations. It’s one of the largest technology learning conferences in the world. In this recap of the recent conference in Las Vegas, Nevada USA, Augusto Valdivia and Scott Bentley of HH Angus’ Digital Services team discuss the event’s highlights, trends and key take-aways.

https://hhangus.com/podcasts/episode-2-aws-conference-recap/