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Edmonton awards honour late environmental engineer and celebrate sustainability, innovation

Russell Hixson
Edmonton awards honour late environmental engineer and celebrate sustainability, innovation
Edmonton‰Ûªs Sustainable Policy Working Team poses for a picture after winning a Charles Labatiuk Award for Environmental Excellence by the city. -

The City of Edmonton recently honoured employees with this year’s Charles Labatiuk awards for environmental excellence, celebrating innovation and sustainability in many forms.

Nominated by other city employees, the winning projects included a rain garden, a new storage system for used oil and a new policy requiring the city to set higher energy standards in new or renovated buildings. In total, 19 groups or individuals were nominated in various categories.

Under the City Operations component was a description highlighting the Eastgate Yard Rain Garden, which is a landscaped area that collects, absorbs and filters stormwater runoff from rooftops, driveways and other hard surfaces. Funnelling runoff through the rain garden helps filter the stormwater before it ends up in the river, the description reads.

Under Integrated Infrastructure Services is the Sustainable Building Policy Update Working Team.

Pascale Ladouceur, director of engineering and lifecycle planning, along with the rest of the team, worked to update policy, calling for all new city buildings, or buildings undergoing major renovations, to be constructed to a minimum of LEED Silver.

The team established sustainability principles, created nation-leading energy and carbon performance expectations for city buildings and made Edmonton one of the only Canadian municipalities with an integrated sustainable building policy, explains the release.

"We reviewed the policy and made it more aligned to cover the full range of the facility’s lifecycle," said Ladouceur. "It covers the design, construction, maintenance and strategy for the building itself. It challenges the city to think about if they even need the new building in the first place."

She noted that input and support from the industry was crucial to the project. An advisory committee made up of residents, industry members and experts in sustainability was consulted.

"We used that group to really help us look outside of our own world and at what was coming from the industry," Ladouceur said.

In talking with other municipalities and governments, the team found that where a municipality can make a big impact is in its approach to sustainability. One example is Alberta, as the province is pushing to reduce its overall coal electricity use as much of it is produced by coal.

However, parts of B.C. and Ontario are more concerned with reducing natural gas use.

"While everybody has their own perspective, we are definitely hearing a lot of similar trends," she said.

Also recognized in the area of Integrated Infrastructure Services is the Contaminated Oil Collection and Transfer System. Team members Darsh Nawaratna and Jehovani Mejia researched and developed a collection, transfer and storage system for contaminated oil that allows workers to safely dispose of used or contaminated oil in a storage tank that, when full, is disposed of by a waste disposal contractor, explains the awards description.

The Labatiuk Awards highlight the city’s priority of sustainability and are named in honour of the environmental engineer, who worked in drainage services and waste management for 16 years. He was a leader in helping establish the city’s environmental management programs and was a passionate advocate for environmental considerations to be a routine part of city business. He died in 2008.

For a full list of winners visit www.edmonton.ca.

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