Internet usage continues to climb, says Statistics Canada

Smartphones are everywhere these days, and so it the internet. The Canadian Internet Use Survey, released by Statistics Canada Oct. 29, highlights this with 91 per cent of Canadians aged 15 or older using the internet today. In this latest survey, 71 per cent of seniors reported using the internet, a significant increase from the previous survey in 2012 when only 48 per cent reported using the internet.
Overall, 94 per cent of Canadians have home internet access. For those don’t, reasons included:  28 per cent for the cost for the service, 19 per cent for equipment, and eight per cent because of unavailability.
Alberta and British Columbia reported the highest proportion of internet users at 94 per cent, while Newfoundland posted the lowest at 86 per cent. Nearly, 84 per cent of users bought goods or services online in 2018, spending $57.4 billion – up from $18.9 billion in 2012.
Most internet users took steps to protect their privacy in 2018: 61 per cent reported deleting their browser history, 60 per cent blocked junk mail or spam, and 42 per cent changed the privacy settings on accounts or apps to limit their profile or personal information.
More than half of internet users had an internet-connected smart home device in their home, such as a smart television or smart speaker. Other smart devices include thermostats (nine percent), video cameras (nine percent) and smart plugs or lights (five per cent). In addition, 88 percent reported having a smartphone for personal use with many using it to conduct online banking (63 percent) or to purchase (54 per cent) or sell (16 per cent) goods and services in the 12 months prior to the survey.
In the 12 months preceding the survey, 30 per cent of employed users reported that their employer expected them to use the internet to stay connected outside of their regular work hours.

Comments invited on national code changes

Sidney Manning, chief plumbing and gas administrator for Alberta Municipal Affairs, chats with contractors following a seminar on plumbing and building codes.
The Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) has opened the public review period of proposed changes to the 2015 editions of the National Building, Fire, and Plumbing Codes, and the National Energy Code for Buildings. The review period will run Oct. 22 to Dec. 23.
The purpose of the public review is to provide users of the model codes with a detailed look at the changes being considered and to get comments as to whether proposed changes should proceed as proposed, or be edited, revised or withdrawn. Every comment will be considered by the standing committee.
Final changes are subject to approval by the CCBFC and will be published by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) in the 2020 editions of the Codes Canada publications.
This will mark the fourth public review of the 2015 code cycle and will focus on changes being proposed to the 2015 editions of the National Building Code, National Fire Code, and the National Plumbing Codes.
A final national public review will take place Jan. 2020, which will include changes being proposed to the National Energy Code for Buildings and changes related to accessibility, large farm buildings, and updates to referenced standards.
The NRC offers free access to the electronic formats of the National Model Codes and provincial codes published by the NRC.

ASHRAE updates 90.1 energy efficiency standard

ASHRAE has made over 100 changes in its energy efficiency standard for buildings, excluding low-rise residential, since the previous 2016 version. This includes numerous energy-saving measures.
ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2019 will provide clearer guidance for exceeding efficiency goals, explains Drake Erbe, chair of the Standard 90.1 committee. “This new version focuses on energy-saving measures, which we hope will reward designs for achieving energy cost levels above the standard minimum and result in more efficient buildings and more innovative solutions.”
Some significant changes include:
Administration and enforcement: commissioning requirements were added to the standard for the first time. Section 4.2.5, “verification, testing, and commissioning,” expanded and requirements were outlined for commissioning in accordance with ASHRAE/IES Standard 202.
Building envelope: for vertical fenestration (the arrangement of windows and doors), “non-metal framed” and “metal framed” products were combined. A minimum criterion for SHGC and U-factor were upgraded across all climate zones. The air leakage section was revised to clarify compliance. Changes to the vestibule section refined the exceptions and added a new option and associated criteria for using air curtains.
Lighting: lighting power allowances for the Space-by-Space Method and the Building Area Method were modified. The model is more representative of real-world conditions with the inclusion of updated IES recommendations.
Mechanical: new requirements were defined to allow designers the option to use ASHRAE Standard 90.4 instead of ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1 requirements in computer rooms that have an IT equipment load larger than 10 kW.
Energy cost budget method: the baseline was set for on-site electricity generation systems.
Performance rating method: explicit heating and cooling COPs were provided without a fan for the baseline packaged cooling equipment. Rules were added for modelling the impact of automatic receptacle controls. More specific baseline rules were set for infiltration modelling. Clarification was added for how plant and coil sizing should be performed.
Both compliance paths: rules were added related to how renewables are treated. Extensive updates were added to the rules for lighting modelling.
Also new to the standard is the use of the fan energy index (FEI) as the metric for efficiency provisions for commercial and industrial fans and blowers.
The 2019 version is the 11th edition published since the original standard was first published in 1975 during the U.S. energy crisis.

Skilled trades program funding increases in Alberta

Registered apprenticeship program student Aurora Erickson demonstrates her welding skills.
The Government of Alberta has increased annual funding towards skilled trades initiatives to more than $6 million a year by 2022-23. The funding will go towards “Careers: The Next Generation” program which provides 6,000 students with paid internships and skilled trades and technologies for elementary to high school students.
“A skilled workforce is the backbone of a prosperous economy. We need to encourage more youth to enter into the skilled trades to address both the looming skilled labour shortage and one of the highest youth unemployment rates Alberta has seen in decades,” explains Demetrios Nicolaides, minister of advanced education for Alberta.
The increase in funding with double the number of schools involved with the program to 1,000 and quadruple the number of learning opportunities for students. Schools are offered age-specific programs, with high school students matched with employers through internships, apprenticeships, camps, workshops and mentoring.
“By providing students with hands-on learning programs in areas such as technology and the trades, we are improving their future employability,” said Adriana LaGrange, minister of education in Alberta. “I have heard from both school boards and industry stakeholders how valuable the registered apprenticeship program and career and technology studies are as an important first step to engage students, improve high school completion rates, and build a qualified and educated workforce.”
Between 2010 and 2018, 72 per cent of high school registered apprenticeship program participants continued their training. In the coming years, some of the highest demand apprenticeship and skilled trades will be mechanics, industrial mechanics, millwrights, construction, and oil and gas, reports Alberta Labour.
Over the next five years, nearly 20,000 skilled trade workers are expected to retire, and that number will grow to more than 45,000 in 10 years, reports the Government of Alberta.

Renewable natural gas to be produced at Vancouver’s landfill

FortisBC and the City of Vancouver have received regulatory approval from the British Columbia Utilities Commission to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) at the City’s landfill in Delta.
“This new and substantial supply will bring us closer to our target of having 15 per cent of our gas supply be renewable by 2030―a key deliverable within our 30BY30 Target to reduce our customers’ greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030,” said Douglas Stout, vice-president of external relations and market development for FortisBC. “This is our largest RNG project to date and the RNG generated from the landfill will be delivered into the local natural gas distribution system as a renewable source of energy.”
FortisBC works with local farmers and municipalities to capture and purify biogas created by decomposing organic matter to create RNG. Construction of the biogas facility will begin in 2020 and take around 18 to 24 months to complete.
In the fall of 2017, FortisBC and the city of Vancouver established a memorandum of understanding which highlighted a range of activities over the next five years designed to reduce GHG emissions.
“This is a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to maximize the beneficial use of the gas we recover at the landfill,” said Cheryl Nelms, acting general manager for engineering services for the City of Vancouver. “Conversion of landfill gas to renewable natural gas, which can then be used in City vehicles and facilities, supports our efforts to address the climate emergency and cut carbon pollution by 50 per cent by 2030.”
FortisBC RNG customers have helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 26,800 tonnes which is equivalent to taking more than 5,600 cars off the road each year.
For more information on RNG, visit fortisbc.com/RNG.

Exhibitor bookings strong for CIPHEX West

P&HVAC’s own Roy Collver, left, chats with a reader at the 2018 CIPHEX West show in Calgary.
Plans are well underway for the CIPHEX West trade show, which will return to Vancouver a year from now, announced the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating, which organizes the event every two years.
Exhibit sales opened in early October to CIPH member companies that exhibited at the 2018 show in Calgary. Since then, more than 30 per cent of exhibit space at next year’s event, to be held Nov. 4-5, 2020, has been reserved and sales are now open to all members and non-members, reported CIPH show manager Elizabeth McCullough.
To date, about 50 companies have registered to exhibit their latest products and technologies. The show will have a new location for 2020, at the Coliseum at the Pacific National Exhibition. Parking will be free for all visitors and exhibitors.
Organizers are planning a number of seminars and workshops during the event. Exhibitors that book space by Dec. 1 will have the opportunity to submit presentation proposals. The Canadian Hydronics Council will present specialized hydronic heating and cooling sessions.
Manufacturers will compete for Product of the Year and other awards with their latest technologies in the New Product Showcase and Competition.
The event will run Nov. 4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Nov. 5 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
For more information, please visit www.ciphexwest.ca/west2020/.

Ontario prompt payment legislation takes effect

Large concrete earth tubes were installed during the construction phase.
As of the beginning of October, Ontario has finally rolled out all parts of its prompt payment legislation. The last piece to be put in place was the adjudication authority.
ADR Chambers Inc. of Toronto has been selected as the authorized adjudicating authority. The new body will oversee the adjudication process for construction disputes, including the training and qualification of adjudicators.
“Our government is pleased to announce the full implementation of Canada’s first-ever prompt payment regime and a new, streamlined dispute resolution process that will cut red tape to support jobs and growth in Ontario’s construction industry,” said Doug Downey, attorney general of Ontario.
“Effective today, subject to transition rules, these changes to the Construction Act will help prevent payment disputes from delaying work on construction projects, speed up the payment process and reduce time and money spent on litigation.”
Industry groups are enthusiastic about the final steps completed for the legislation. “The construction industry has been calling for a solution that addresses payment challenges for years, and the new prompt payment regime brought in by the Ontario government will ensure all parties are paid on a timely basis,” remarked Clive Thurston, president of the Ontario General Contractors Association.
The legislation has been in the making for over a decade. Bill 142, the Construction Lien Amendment Act, which passed in the provincial legislature Dec. 5, 2017, establishes clear payment timelines for all parties involved in a construction project. The legislation states that once an invoice is received, owners are required to pay general contractors within 28 days. After that, general contractors are required to pay the sub-contractors within seven days. An adjudication period is in place to settle disputes. General contractors and sub-contractors receive mandatory interest on late payments and can suspend work on a project if not paid.
“Prompt Payment Ontario and all of its members thank the government for holding fast to making prompt payment and adjudication a reality,” said Sandra Skivsky, chair of the National Trade Contractors Coalition of Canada (NTCCC).
“The government’s changes to the Construction Act and implementation of the prompt payment and adjudication framework will result in a more efficient and productive industry. A stronger construction industry means a stronger Ontario economy that is open for business.”

Employers still face challenges with cannabis legalization

Almost exactly one year ago, Canada legalized cannabis. Countries around the world looked to Canada to see how we handled the transition. For the most part, there have been few issues. But that doesn’t mean that it has been perfect.
Employers still face challenges related to cannabis in the workplace, reports the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). A survey was conducted by CFIB to determine how small and medium-sized businesses were adapting to the legalization of cannabis. Only eight per cent surveyed had experienced a cannabis-related incident in the workplace, but that number rises to 22 per cent for businesses with 100 to 499 employees, according to the preliminary data.
Nearly six in 10 business owners rank their provincial government’s efforts to educate them as poor or very poor. “Cannabis legalization posed some major new challenges for employers, especially in industries where the safety of employees or customers is a concern,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. “We warned governments in the lead-up to legalization that their education efforts were severely lacking. A year in, and as new products become available, it doesn’t look like it’s gotten much better.”
In the construction industry, only 10 per cent of companies reported issues related to cannabis in the workplace, while an additional six per cent either didn’t know or were unsure. The manufacturing industry saw similar statistics. Seven per cent responded that cannabis caused challenges in the workplace, and an additional seven per cent responded that they didn’t know or were unsure.
“Many small businesses don’t have a human resources department or legal experts on staff, so they need help and resources. Too often, their needs are treated as an afterthought when governments rush to introduce major new legislation,” added Kelly.
“I advise any business owners that are looking for information to visit cfib.ca/cannabis for tools and resources, including a free workplace drug and alcohol policy template.”

AHR Expo innovation winners announced

North America’s largest HVAC/R trade show will take place Feb. 3-5 in Orlando, Florida when the event returns to the Orange County Convention Centre.
In anticipation, organizers have announced the winning manufacturers in the 2020 AHR Expo Innovation Awards competition. There were 10 categories and one of those winners will be selected as the most innovative and will receive the Product of the Year award, to be announced at the awards presentation on the show floor Feb. 4 at 1 p.m.
Entries were reviewed and selected by a panel of third-party ASHRAE member judges. “We had more entries submitted for the 2020 Innovation Awards than we’ve ever had,” remarked Mark Stevens, AHR Expo show manager. “This speaks volumes to the advancement and outstanding innovation happening within the HVAC/R industry.”
This year’s winners are:
Building Automation: Delta Controls Inc. (Booth 1161) – The O3 Sensor Hub 2.0 combines seven different sensors to provide an accurate view of interior space. The sensor aims to change how the controls industry looks at occupant satisfaction.
Cooling: Danfoss (Booth 1501) – Danfoss’ Interlaced Micro Channel Heat Exchanger (iMCHE) integrates multiple circuits into a single coil. It works using a single air heat transfer area and controlling each one independently by a multi-circuitS system.
Green Building: Danfoss (Booth 1501) – Danfoss’ Turbocor TG490 compressor is designed for air-to-water cooled chiller applications. The oil-free, variable speed, magnetic bearing centrifugal compressor is optimized for use with HFO-1234ze.
Heating: York (Booth 3801) – York’s LX Series TL9E Ultra-Low NOx gas furnace is an environmentally responsible gas furnace that meets the standards for air quality while reducing greenhouse and smog-producing gasses by up to 65 per cent compared to the standard low-NOx furnace.
Indoor Air Quality: Fresh-Aire UV (Booth 5853) – The Purity Low Profile LED one-inch polarized filter/LED disinfection system by Fresh-Aire UV captures 97 per cent of particles down to 0.3 microns in size. The system uses antimicrobial UV reactive media with an advanced photocatalytic coating for odour and VOC reduction.
Plumbing: LG Electronics USA, Inc. (Booth 6343) – The LG Hydro Kit is an indoor heat exchanger for LG variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems capable of transferring heat or cooling energy expelled from the air conditioning process to heat water. Available in 42,000 and 96,000 Btu/h capacity.
Refrigeration: Danfoss (Booth 1501) – Danfoss’ CO2 Adaptive Liquid Management Solution Innovation combines Danfoss’ liquid ejector and liquid control case controller algorithm to fully utilize the evaporator surface in display cases and cold rooms. This technology provides up to 10 per cent greater energy efficiency.
Software: Interplay Learning (Booth 8562) – The SkillMill Skilled Trades Course Catalog by Interplay Learning is an online, on-demand training course catalogue designed for HVAC professionals to gain worksite skills accessible via mobile phone, computer, tablet, or in virtual reality.
Tools and Instruments: Matelex (Booth 2551) – Matelex’s DNI (détecteur de niveau intelligent/smart level detector) system measures pressure, temperature and refrigerant levels every two to three seconds. The system is designed to trigger an alarm in the event of a detected leak.
Ventilation: Infinitum Electric (Booth 7485) – The Infinitum Electric HVAC motor is smaller, smarter, and quieter than traditional electric motors. These benefits equate to an ultra-high efficiency motor that results in up to 25 per cent lower costs for customers.
For more information about the AHR Expo, please visit www.ahrexpo.com.

Nova Scotia opens heating rebate program

The Heating Assistance Rebate Program (HARP) is once again available in Nova Scotia. The program aims to help lower-income Nova Scotians afford home heating costs.
Applications are now open for the 2019-2020 heating season. The program provides a rebate of up to $200 to low-income Nova Scotians who pay for their own heat. Those applying for the property tax rebate program for low-income seniors can choose to automatically be considered for HARP. Over 9,400 tax rebate recipients will get heating help in the first week of the program without having to fill out another application. More than 1,700 people receiving the tax rebate did not receive help under HARP in the past.
“Thousands of Nova Scotians receive the HARP rebate each year to help with their home heating costs,” said Rafah DiCostan, Clayton Park West MLA, on behalf of Patricia Arab, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services. “The online application and direct deposit are helping people get the assistance they need sooner.”
To qualify for the program, the income threshold for one-person households is $29,000, and $44,000 for households with more than one person.
Applications can be filled out online at www.novascotia.ca/heatinghelp or at the Access Nova Scotia Centres, Community Services offices, and MLA offices. More than 41,500 people received the rebate in 2018/2019. Applications will be accepted until March 31, 2020.