Sustainability at MAT 4Site Engineers
May 21, 2021
Written by Imogen Bobert-Hahn
Engineering is putting sustainability at the forefront of its industry. We are starting to take responsibility for our future and the impact we make on the environment, while realizing cost effective ways to attain sustainability and design energy efficient systems. Speaking with Ace Garcia, a Mechanical Designer here at MAT 4Site who specializes in Energy Modelling, I ask about what sustainability means to him: “We’re not only talking about what’s happening today, but preparing for what will happen in the future.” He says although we do not have a crystal ball, emission rates make it easy to predict the trend of our environmental impact and consequences. “Right now they have probably decreased because of the pandemic but once we get back to normal life and business activities, emission rates will jump back drastically and continue to warm up our climate.”
“If you can predict what the temperature will be thirty years from now you can design based on that information. If you don’t consider climate change in the next thirty years, your systems will be affected. When you take in these considerations, the building can continue to perform efficiently for many years and will have been designed to adapt and be prepared for these changes.” Toronto has already started to experience blackouts and flooding due to climate change (to learn more visit https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/8e13-180503_Final_PRA_summary_vDIGITAL.pdf) but initiatives are being taken to address these issues.
Toronto’s largest culprit of greenhouse gasses are building emissions. Toronto is forecasting to reduce 3.9 millions of tonnes by 2050 due to improved building efficiency. (See graph below from https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/council/2018-council-issue-notes/climate-change/)
Considering the future of building energy efficiency, Ace says, “I think Electrification of the building is the future, we can heat more efficiently as more technologies are being developed and more systems are integrated. Having a DC (direct current) network in a building can harvest solar energy via solar panels and power up motors, lighting, heating and air-conditioning and the electric car. Electricity has lower gas emissions than natural gas, and with an increase of investments in solar/wind farms and nuclear energy, there is reason to be optimistic about future electricity prices.”
Climate change will continue to affect everyone’s lives necessitating fundamental changes in how we construct and operate our everyday systems. Using HadCM3 climate models and energy modelling reports, Ace says, “We can prepare and ensure our designs adopt the most efficient and cost-effective methods in alignment with our changing climate.”