From reductions in pollution to the return of wildlife1, we are getting a glimpse into what might happen if we take actions toward reducing our environmental impacts in the midst of this pandemic. While home energy consumption has gone up, as expected, it’s also clear that our patterns have shifted. Among other things, BC Hydro data confirms that we are sleeping in more2. As the days go on, we’re also seeing a flourishing of creative generosity and resources for our well-being3, not to mention a rise in sourdough bread baking.

Navigating new realities

At Prism, there is no “”business as usual”” as we adapt to COVID-19. From our Energy Team exploring ways to leverage virtual technology to conduct energy audits, to our Electrical Team getting our remote access humming so that our designers can continue to work on CAD drawings from home, we are all experimenting with ways to adapt. Not only have our meetings gone online, but facilitation by our Sustainability Team and our training courses have moved to online delivery as well. 

As we navigate these new realities, we continue to look for ways to ground ourselves and focus on what we do know. Building our resilience means cultivating our capacity to navigate change and uncertainty – as individuals, as a company, and as a community. With our focus on efficiency and sustainability, we can respond proactively to the vulnerabilities that this pandemic has surfaced, including how we design and monitor our building systems to be more resilient.

Desigining adaptive systems

Hamid Samani, Prism Senior Mechanical Engineer, shares some reflections on how COVID-19 is teaching us that we need to be more innovative in our design so that our systems are more adaptive to change in the surrounding environment. “Being a mechanical engineer and designing buildings’ mechanical services including HVAC, air and plumbing systems, our design can affect the occupant from the air that they breathe to the water they drink or consume for sanitary use.”

Samani says redundancy and adaptivity will be vital as equipment failure can happen at any time. Ensuring there is adequate redundancy in equipment in place to come online when operating equipment fails will be one key consideration going forward. To increase adaptivity, designs may include installing monitoring systems for air quality and filtration, and controls systems for more consistent and reliable response to changing conditions.

Acting now for the future

Many people are also drawing parallels from how we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and how we respond to other challenges like climate change. Climate change adaptation measures for buildings improve our overall comfort, safety and business continuity. They may include installing monitoring systems for air quality and filtration, and controls systems for more consistent and reliable response to changing conditions. As we carry out vulnerability risk assessments to identify critical equipment and processes to address, we are reminded to think broadly about the impact of these changes and how connected we are. The more resilient our buildings become, the more resilient our communities can be. 

Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to re-evaluate our building systems and create more robust infrastructure capable of responding to new challenges. Whether in the context of public health or climate change, prevention is better than cure4. It is more economical and safer to reduce our environmental footprint today rather than to figure out how to deal with the consequences of our inaction. We each have a role to play. We are grateful to be part of an industry with a long history of innovation and problem-solving, through collaboration and harnessing our collective wisdom and insight. 

Learning together

Have you experienced a renewed interest in increasing the adaptability and bolstering the resiliency of your systems?
We invite you to add your insights here and grow this conversation so that we can learn together.