By: Journal of Commerce
he two most important new trends to emerge from the Vancouver Regional Construction Association’s (VRCA) 27th Annual Awards of Excellence that are more wood is being used by major contractors and their commitment to sustainable construction. “One of the trends that the judging committee picked up on was the increasing use of wood,” said VRCA president Fiona Famulak. “Wood has been around for a long time, but it is interesting to note that some of the projects that have received the Silver Award have really highlighted the use of wood.”
The VRCA will honour the best companies, individuals and projects in the B.C. construction industry at the 27th annual Awards of Excellence, which will be held at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Oct. 21, 2015.
Three Silver Award winners were selected in 12 project categories for their use of innovative techniques, new materials and project management.
“I think a lot of the Silver Award winners that we chose had a fairly large and significant wood component in them and not just the exposed glulam beams, which we have seen on some jobs,” said Tony Everett, chair, VRCA Awards of Excellence Committee.
“But, even of more interest is the cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction, which was structural panels used either in roof decking or exterior panel construction. What we saw this year was a conversion on some projects to use it actually as a structural panel in lieu of perhaps concrete and masonry, which we hadn’t seen before.”
Both Everett and Famulak identified the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George as one of the projects that used wood extensively throughout structurally and on an exposed beam basis.
The eight-storey building was designed to showcase the potential for building midrise and highrise structures using engineered mass timber products.
The design incorporates a structure of systems-integrated CLT floor panels, glulam columns and beams, and mass timber walls. No concrete was used in the building above the ground floor slab, with the exception of the mechanical penthouse.
The general contractor on the $25 million building was PCL. Structurlam Products was awarded a Silver Award for the project in the manufacturers and suppliers category, while Houle Electric Ltd. was recognized in the category for electrical contractors over $2 million.
Everett said ITC used a structural panel system with a lot of exposed wood to build Ronald MacDonald House in Vancouver and Graham construction built the YVR Airside Operating Building with the extensive use of wood beams. PCL also built the Anvil Centre in New Westminster with the extensive use of structural and glulam beams.
“Just about every major job we looked at seemed to have some wood component to it, not just for decorative wood,” said Everett. “Structurlam Products was a dominant and prominent supplier in all of these wood structures.”
The second emerging trend at the VRCA awards this year is the increased desire by owners to seek Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
“This means they are using sustainable materials and being environmentally friendly in their choice of materials and systems,” said Famulak.
“From a construction point of view, when they build to that level of excellence, it helps to set them apart from the competition. When the construction industry gets that opportunity, they embrace it because when they deliver to (LEED) Gold standard it shows they are committed to certification, innovation and excellence.”
Everett said an increasing number of projects are using LEED criteria, as well as other forms of sustainable construction.
“Now, LEED seems to be transitioning into a competitive form of construction that is desired and demanded by owners,” he said. “It’s not just the contractor component. It’s more effective ways of handling the electrical and mechanical trades.”
Another constant trend in the construction industry is that technology is lending itself to all kinds of innovations.
“The innovations and the value engineering component are quite often submitted after the tender closed in the interest if saving the owner money on speeding up the schedule, where they are coming up with some unique new products and design criteria,” said Everett.
“A lot of the really good general contractors and trade contractors are looking beyond the original plans and specifications to try and upgrade the building, offer economies or pull the schedule in tighter.”
In addition, he said trade contractors are now giving more submissions, as well as the manufacturers and suppliers. As a result, the VRCA has expanded the award program The total value of projects in this year’s competition is close to $500 million in construction throughout British Columbia, with 128 entrants and 37 projects being considered. Project awards are given in the categories of general contractor, trade contractor, electrical contractor, mechanical contractor, and manufacturer & supplier. One Gold Award of Excellence winner will be named in each of the categories at the gala. The three Silver Award of Excellence winners in each category were announced in the summer.