The first day of the Canadian Construction Association’s (CCA) annual conference in Tucson, Arizona offered up advice on collaborating with governments to help achieve net-zero and the challenges companies face during procurement.

During the panel entitled Net-Zero: How construction firms can ready themselves for green public procurement, Jen Hancock, vice-president of collaborative construction at Chandos Construction, asked the audience how they are keeping track of their carbon footprint.

The first steps include tracking the fuel used by its employees and the electricity used in its operations, she explained, with advanced tracking also incorporating greenhouse gas from the supply chain and tracking Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for materials used for projects.

To illustrate her point, Hancock quoted hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, who said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

Stephan Dery, Assistant Deputy Minister-Real Property Services with Public Services and Procurement Canada, outlined how the federal government’s commitment to Net-Zero by 2050 will influence selection of materials as carbon reduction becomes a key factor for the industry. “Government infrastructure has always been a catalyst for change,” he said, adding that operational cost considerations are moving the conversation away from lowest cost toward best value.

Trade-enabling infrastructure was one topic discussed during the afternoon, with Todd Winterhalt, senior vice-president of Export Development Canada, saying that while the expansion of western ports is a good first step, more transportation infrastructure is required.

“We have bottlenecks within the country that work against us.”

A comprehensive national strategy to move goods is what’s needed, said Jean-Pierre Gauthier, vice-president, Peter Kiewit Sons ULC.

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“You need to have a plan for the entire country.”

Another of the afternoon sessions addressed procurement issues from the perspective of the owner and how procurement could work better for everyone.

The panel, moderated by EllisDon’s Wayne Ferguson, discussed the many challenges the industry is facing, including inconsistent use of technologies like BIM, differing RFP structures, and training of new employees.

For Melinda Nycholat, vice president, Operations-Procurement for Defence Construction Canada, the use of more collaborative delivery models is a good sign.

“I am a big advocate of integrated project delivery, because there is complete transparency,” she said. “I think we need to continue that evolution.”

Featured image: (L to R) Stephen Dery, Jen Hancock and Ajay Sharma talk about how construction companies can ready themselves for net-zero and green public procurement. (CCA)

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