Showing the way forward with decarbonization

The last 2021-2022 report of the Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) leaves no room for doubt: we need to act now to limit global warming to 1.5 °C, and increase humanity’s chances of a better future. The first step in the fight against climate change involves mitigation efforts and a reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions. This is where decarbonization comes into play.

What is decarbonization?

Julie Hardy, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, ENV SP, associate partner and director of the Sustainable Development department at CIMA+, explains: “decarbonization means reducing GHG emissions in the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.” Several G7 countries, including Canada, aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. At CIMA+, our decarbonization goal is to reduce our GHG emissions as much as possible and become carbon-neutral by 2027, 23 years before the federal government deadline.

Carbon neutrality and engineering

The important question here is: Is it possible for carbon neutrality and engineering to go hand-in-hand, and if so, how do we do it? First, we need to understand that this transition will not happen overnight, and that the process comes with its own set of challenges. At CIMA+, we know how to tackle challenges, and are ready to roll up our sleeves. The first step consists of understanding the GHG emitting activities of a particular project or company, then conducting a GHG inventory, and selecting and prioritizing the best mitigation solution over the short and long term.

Created in 2020, CIMA+’s Centre of Excellence for Sustainability has developed a sustainable and responsible engineering guide that provides an operational framework to integrate sustainable development in its projects, regardless of the sector of activity. Julie Hardy is convinced that achieving the industry’s decarbonization goals requires training, a paradigm shift, and engineering solutions. At CIMA+, a lot of our engineers have received relevant training, and know how to integrate sustainable development in their projects, which enables them to design innovative and sustainable solutions that reduce impact on the environment.

According to Éric Cantin, partner and project director for renewal energy at CIMA+, one of the challenges the industry faces in terms of decarbonization is to ensure it quickly brings an excellent return on investment. Eric shares his successes within his sector pertaining to decarbonization and optimal return on investment, “I have been working more than 12 years on solar power projects of small, medium, and large scale, and the performance of solar modules is constantly improving, and prices are constantly dropping. Therefore, we need less space to achieve the same performance.” This is one step towards carbon neutrality.

CIMA+ and decarbonization

At CIMA+, our strategy is to lead by example. In order to better support our clients in their decarbonization endeavour, we first examined the challenges we needed to overcome to achieve our own carbon neutrality objectives, and what we could do to succeed. When we conducted our annual GHG inventory, improvement avenues emerged, and we implemented measures to support telework, electrify our vehicle fleet, pursue environmentally certified and sustainable rental spaces, and improve the energy efficiency of our existing and new office spaces. We practise what we preach, and this is how we can more effectively support our clients within their decarbonization projects.

The following are decarbonization projects which we have been working on lately:

  • Municipality GHG inventory and mitigation action plan for the Township of Mapleton in Ontario.
  • GHG inventory and climate change resiliency assessment for the electrification of the exo bus fleet and the construction of two (2) maintenance and electric charging garages.
  • Whole building life cycle analysis and energy modeling for the MIFO community centre aiming for the Zero Carbon Building — Design v3 certification.

Our other emission reduction projects include the electrification of the City of Boucherville’s vehicle fleets, urban development planning to reduce emissions associated with transportation the MRC de L’Assomption and MRC Les Moulins regional county municipalities and Longueuil.

At CIMA+, we are ready to support you in your decarbonization project, regardless of the size and scope. Each gesture counts when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint and preserving our beautifully diverse planet. Ask our professionals at CIMA+ to conduct an inventory of your project’s GHG emissions today and develop a mitigation measures plan of action and take part in the fight against climate change.

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