Prism Opens Okanagan Office in Kelowna
With the demand for our services growing in the Okanagan and Southern Interior region, we are proud to announce that our Kelowna office opened for business at the Innovation Centre on Doyle Avenue on March 1!
We are excited to be providing local support to our existing clients including the City of Kelowna, Interior Health, FortisBC and regional governments.
Specifically, our Mechanical Designer, Bartjan Kiers, will be working more closely on mechanical and energy management projects in the region. Nicole Huard, our Sustainability and Climate Action Specialist, will also be working from Kelowna to provide support for climate action and sustainability projects in the region.
If you are travelling in the area or know of anyone that may benefit from our services, feel free to drop by and say hi at #106 – 460 Doyle Avenue or email Bart at BartjanK@prismegineering.com.
Low Carbon Resilience to Climate Change Hazards
2021 was a difficult year for many in BC. From summer wildfires brought on by high temperatures and drought conditions to fall flooding from extreme rain events, the impacts of a changing climate are all around us and are more evident than ever. While disaster response and remediation are essential, they are also short-term, reactive solutions.
As we begin 2022 and look now to the future, climate science tells us that such extreme weather events and the hazards that go with them are likely to persist and increase in frequency and severity. So, what are we to do? We must learn to adapt. We must increase our resilience to climate change hazards through a proactive, not reactive, approach while simultaneously working to reduce emissions so that the long-term effects of climate change are reduced.
So, what is Low Carbon Resilience and why do we need it?
An organization works towards low carbon resilience when it chooses to pursue climate change mitigation and adaptation simultaneously, while also considering the co-benefits of each. Climate change mitigation work seeks to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and prevent climate change. Climate change adaptation work seeks to respond to the impacts of climate change. For buildings, this means working to reduce a facility’s vulnerability to current and future climate change hazards such as extreme rain events, flooding, high temperatures and forest fires.
Historically these two areas of work, mitigation and adaptation, have often been siloed and worked on either by different parts of an organization or at different points in time through separate planning processes but there are many advantages to pursuing them simultaneously.
Advantages to pursuing mitigation and adaptation work simultaneously include:
- Project management cost savings (from streamlining planning processes and reducing the occurrence of contradictory or doubled-up work)
- Improved property value
- Improved occupant comfort & safety
- Improved air quality
- Green job creation
- And many more
One of the primary sources of GHG emissions in buildings is energy use, particularly for heating. Therefore, energy efficiency improvements, when undertaken strategically with climate hazards in mind, can help to increase a building’s resiliency while simultaneously reducing its GHG emissions. Some examples include improving the building envelope, upgrading HVAC filtration systems, and installing renewable energy generation or storage.
Regardless of where you are on your journey towards low carbon resilience, Prism can help. Prism’s sustainability and energy management teams can leverage their strategic planning and stakeholder engagement expertise to help you design low carbon and resilient climate action, sustainability and strategic energy management plans and policies. These plans and policies will focus on your organization’s priorities in areas such as: GHG emissions reduction, energy conservation, water conservation, waste reduction and zero-emission vehicle fleet transition.
Our electrical and mechanical teams can help you with facilities assessments, feasibility studies and building design and upgrades to assess and improve your buildings. We can help you identify a wide range of low carbon resilience opportunities in areas such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, low carbon electrification, and fleet charging infrastructure. We can also help with disaster relief and recovery when it is called for.
By planning early and considering climate change adaptation and mitigation simultaneously you can help your organization to increase its low carbon resilience now and into the future.
Join the EV evolution
There were more than 60,000 light-duty electric vehicles (EV) on BC’s roads in 2021. As one of North America’s leaders in EV adoption, the number of EV vehicles in BC are expected to surpass 200,000 by the year 2026 and 300,000 by 2028. Many businesses and residences will require upgrades to meet the new demand for EV charging as drivers will need to recharge at home, work, school, or leisure facilities.
The benefits of improved air quality, greenhouse gas and noise reduction, and sustainable economic development have already prompted many municipalities to require EV charging infrastructure in new residential and commercial developments.
How can facility managers, building owners and property managers of residences, public facilities, commercial and industrial buildings prepare?
Prism has worked with numerous organizations in the province to complete feasibility studies, evaluate the electrical infrastructure requirements and provide updated recommendations for building and municipal bylaw updates to plan for this evolution.
We asked our electrical engineers for their top tips on EV charging infrastructure. Here is what they shared:
- Take advantage of rebates and incentives
- CleanBC is offering rebates for EV Ready plans, EV ready infrastructure, and EV chargers – learn more here.
- NRCan offers a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Infrastructure Program for multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) – read more here.
- CleanBC Go Electric Fleets Program offers funding to reduce barriers for the adoption of ZEVs – review program requirements here.
- Be mindful of challenges most MURB stratas face. This includes infrastructure cost approval, load sharing, limited space within electrical rooms and costly network fees.
- Consider load management or load sharing for constrained electrical systems. This can be done at the circuit, panel, or system level.
- Review and familiarize yourself with manufacture, municipal, and utility provider guidelines and requirements.
- Plan for the long-term. You will save money if you do all your coring and trenching at the same time and use conduits large enough to be used for future expansion rather than having to do it each time a new charging station needs to be installed.
- Don’t forget about fleet vehicles. With more medium and heavy-duty EV options becoming available, it is a good time to start evaluating ZEVs to reduce your organization’s GHG emissions.
Our Electrical team will be happy to work with you to identify your needs and provide customized recommendations. Reach out to us to learn more.
Engaging Employees in Sustainability: 4 Insights from Supporting the Government of Canada
Real Property Services (RPS), a branch of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), hired Prism to support their efforts to engage employees in embedding sustainability actions into operations across Canada.
A multi-year project from 2019-2021, we developed a Communication Plan and supporting employee engagement materials to help RPS employees understand what sustainability actions they need to integrate into their work. Based on our time working together, we’ve pulled together four reflections that we believe are important for any successful sustainability strategy and implementation project.
The 4 insights:
1. Change is a process, not an event.
At its core, integrating sustainability commitments into organizational practice is a change management project. We know that change doesn’t happen overnight; individuals will move through change at their own pace.
For this project, RPS is asking employees across the country to make changes to current work processes that will take time, resources and require critical thinking and problem solving. We worked with RPS to develop communication materials and a plan that provide employees with the information and support they need to move from awareness to execution.
2. Customize communication to your target audience(s).
Successfully implementing a change management project depends on effective communication and engagement with the people involved in the change. In the case of RPS, we segmented the audience into three groups: senior leadership, middle management and teams.
Research and experience tell us that senior leaders provide the authority and credibility necessary for successful change. They must be active and visible sponsors. Middle management is the group most likely to resist change, but also best positioned to coach and influence their teams. Individual employees and teams are at the heart of organizational change and, ultimately, a project’s success is dependent on their ability to adopt new ways of working.
At RPS, we consulted and learned about each of these stakeholder groups to understand their motivators and barriers to support the integration of sustainability actions. Based on the results, we tailored communication and engagement initiatives to speak to the right person, with the right message, at the right time, in the right place.
3. Design with the end-user in mind.
We developed all of our communication and engagement materials for the project with the end-user in mind. Through consultation and collaboration with employee groups across the country, we asked questions to understand how departmental processes work, what challenges employees foresaw with the rollout, what support systems would be helpful, as well as perspectives and attitudes about the project and its impact. The result is a plan and suite of materials that employees already support and are practical for them to use.
4. Collaborate and iterate.
Working with RPS felt like a true team effort. Instead of delivering lengthy drafts based on assumptions about content and direction, we collaborated during weekly working meetings to iterate content and make decisions. And, as we describe throughout this article, we engaged with stakeholder groups across the country to ensure we made informed decisions that listened to our audiences’ needs. The result is a plan and suite of materials that we are proud to see implemented across the country.
Our experience with this project highlights what we see time and time again: people are at the heart of change. At Prism, we’re committed to working with organizations to develop and implement sustainability strategies that engage people every step of the way.
Working on a sustainability strategy or implementation project? Learn how we can help