Sustainable engineering for future generations
Sustainability and corporate social responsibility are top of mind at CIMA+. Every engineering project we carry out presents an opportunity to make a positive impact, whether that’s for a single community, an entire city, or the whole planet.
Our engineers play a vital role in connecting and growing communities by bringing forth sustainable solutions towards a better future for generations to come. With this in mind, we can help move the world towards the use of renewable resources, smart cities, sustainable transportation, and other innovative strategies to reduce our ecological footprint.
So, how exactly do we do this? By being mindful about every decision we make. In 2020, we established our Centre of Excellence for Sustainability, with the goal of becoming a leader in environmental best practices. Through this centre, our team has the ability to stay current on the latest training and expertise to provide services in line with the highest calibre of environmental standards and certifications for our projects. This includes projects pursuing various environmental certifications such as LEED®, Zero Carbon Building, WELL and Envision.
What does sustainable engineering mean to you?
With every project we take on, we aim to leave a positive and lasting impact on the communities we serve. It isn’t just about getting the job done. To get to the heart of the matter, we asked some of our talented engineers: What does sustainable engineering mean to you?
Cristina Lugo, Ph.D., P.Eng. – Infrastructure/Water Engineer
Cristina Lugo pursued a career in engineering to dedicate her life to protecting and preserving the environment. Her expertise in water infrastructure and water treatment allows her to pursue her goal of helping developing communities gain access to safe drinking water.
“Sustainable engineering to me means to design with the goal of preserving our environment. As population increases with the need for more and more resources, we need to ensure that the infrastructure is designed to preserve the balance of our ecosystem. This means the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the conscious use of environmental resources, or the elimination of contamination to air, soil or water.”
Antonia Christou, CEP – Junior Project Manager
Antonia Christou is inspired by projects that are built from the ground up, leaving her mark behind through positive impacts as a civil engineer, specializing in construction management.
“To me, sustainable engineering is a well-constructed project that is built on a solid foundation to last a long time and ensure endurance (durability or resilience) while providing a safe environment for users. In addition, trying to create something new using recyclable materials is a good way to contribute to sustainable engineering.”
Qusai Saleh, P.Eng. – Project Engineer
Qusai Saleh became an engineer to better understand how things work, and to give back to his community. As an electrical engineer, Qusai plays a vital role in connecting renewable energy to Alberta’s electrical grid. Early on in his career, Qusai’s projects have been instrumental in attracting various independent power producers to Alberta, allowing the connection of wind and solar facilities to the electrical grid.
“To me, sustainable engineering means applying the principles of engineering in a manner that fosters positive social and economic development while minimizing environmental impact.”
Michael Murray, P.Eng. – Senior Project Manager, Associate Partner
Some kids want to be a fire fighter when they grow up, but Michael Murray has always dream of being an engineer. He loves being challenged to produce designs that serve a purpose and provide tangible benefits that better our world.
“To me sustainable engineering means continuously challenging oneself to consider options that mitigates environmental impacts and promotes the efficient reuse of materials in a cost-effective manner.”
Promise of Sustainability
At CIMA+, we are engineering for people. This means engineering for a better future, healthier earth, and connected communities. Our promise of sustainability is built into every project we are a part of; from designing and building Canada’s largest solar farms, to innovations and practices to reduce waste.
A brighter future
Through our work in solar energy, we are engineering a brighter future for generations to come. In 2020, our energy and resources team designed Canada’s largest solar farm. Built near Claresholm, Alberta, this photovoltaic generating station has over 475,000 panels and has the capability to produce up to 132 MW of electricity. A solar farm of this size comes with many complexities and challenges, but also creates an opportunity for new innovations to be born. It doesn’t stop with the Claresholm solar farm, the Travers Solar project is set to be completed in late 2022. This solar farm will be spectacular, generating enough to power 150,000 homes. Our role in this project is to transfer the energy from 1.3 million solar panels to the electrical grid, which will provide the ability to connect this energy across Alberta. This is a giant step in the right direction for this province known for its focus on the oil and gas industry. These projects allow Alberta to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and move towards becoming Canada’s leader in green energy.
Read more about Pierre Bérubé, P.Eng., Senior Project Director & Partner, and his work with the Alberta Solar Farms here.
Transforming the Bronx Harbor
In collaboration with McInnis Cement, we transformed New York City’s largest illegal landfill into a new marine terminal with a beautiful waterfront walkway. The creation of Oak Point Harbor allows for the transportation of cement through ships, rather than trucks. As a result, this cut the emission of local air pollutants; a benefit for reducing the global environmental footprint while also giving the surrounding communities cleaner air.
“What I enjoyed the most was the human element of this project. There were so many variables that focused on the human aspect and provided opportunities to meet with the people involved. We knew we had to be completely open and accessible if we wanted this to work. We had to be transparent. It all boiled down to human interaction and with that we were successful.” – Dennis Burns, P.Eng., M.Sc., PMP, CIMA+ Director & Partner
Land is a hard commodity to come by in NYC. The development of Oak Point Harbor gave the community an 800 foot long walkway filled with of greenery, local art, and 3 acres of wetland preservation. This project brought cleaner air and open greenery to the Bronx, while setting the path for businesses to thrive in this new space.
Read more about Dennis Burns and his Bronx Project in Blueprint Magazine here.
Innovation and Sustainability During a Global Pandemic
COVID-19 has placed an increased strain on healthcare worldwide. Our response to the pandemic required timely, sustainable solutions. Our project management team helped in adding four new nursing units to The Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur-de-Montréal in only six months. This expansion through modular construction allowed HSCM to better handle the pressure of increased patients due to the pandemic.
Modular construction allows buildings to be constructed off-site under a controlled environment, then delivered to the site to be assembled. This process allows us to cut construction time significantly while minimizing construction disturbance to hospital staff and patients. Off-site construction creates significant reduction in waste through better inventory control and leftover material is recycled for other projects. These modular buildings can be deconstructed and repurposed rather than creating demolition waste in the future. Since construction takes place in a factory-like environment, the construction quality is higher too; meaning we have resilient buildings that stand for longer.
Read more about our modular construction at Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur-de-Montréal here.
Paving the road for the future
Embankment slope failures and roadway embankment damaged by major rainfall left significant damage to the Town of Lincoln’s 13th street. The south portion of 13th street was reduced to one lane of traffic while the north was completely closed off, causing significant impacts to residents and emergency vehicles. Through extensive community input and environmental study, the decision was made for complete reconstruction 13th street. Our transportation engineering team developed a plan that not only reconstructs the roadway with sustainable practices but also improves and conserves the surrounding environment.
“Engineering is a fundamental and essential pillar for supporting society. The effective implementation of an engineered solution serves to provide lasting benefits for multiple generations to come.” – Michael Murray, P.Eng.
Alleviating environmental impact was top of mind during this reconstruction. In the south, a living green wall was designed to reconstruct the existing severe slope, minimize vegetation removal, and provide a natural slope treatment that will reduce long term maintenance requirements of traditional RSS walls. At the north site, a naturalized pond was designed to reduce our environmental impact. This pond was designed so that all the excavated material was reused in the roadway embankment construction. This eliminated the need to import backfill material and drastically lowered our carbon footprint. Our project with the Town of Lincoln for the reconstruction of 13th street was awarded the Ontario Public Works Association (OPWA) Project of the Year Award for its innovation and sustainable engineering.
Read the Town of Lincoln’s media release on the reconstruction here.
Engineering for People
Engineering plays a crucial role in the development and growth of communities around the world. To leave behind a better and greener world, innovation and sustainability are at the forefront of engineering. This plays a large part in all our projects and allows us to connect people to renewable green energy, revitalize the communities surrounding our projects, design sustainable infrastructure assets, and eliminate the overutilization of resources. Behind every CIMA+ project there are talented engineers and professionals who are passionate about creating sustainable solutions, building a solid foundation for future generations, and moving the world towards a circular economy.