ASHRAE encourages industry to help combat coronavirus

ASHRAE has developed resources for building-industry professionals to address how the heating, ventilating and air conditioning industries can help combat the virus. The resources can be found on the ASHRAE webpage at
“The recent escalation in the spread of coronavirus 2019 is alarming on a global scale,” said Darryl K. Boyce, ASHRAE president, P.Eng. “While ASHRAE supports expanded research to fully understand how coronavirus is transmitted, we know that healthy buildings are a part of the solution. ASHRAE’s COVID-19 Preparedness Resources are available as guidance to building owners, operators and engineers on how to best protect occupants from exposure to the virus, in particular in relation to airborne particles that might be circulated by HVAC systems.”
The ASHRAE position on airborne infectious diseases states that “all types should follow, as a minimum, the largest practical standards and guidelines.” This includes:
ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1 – ventilation for acceptable IAQ, which outlines minimum ventilation rates and other measures intended to provide IAQ that is acceptable to human occupants and that minimize adverse health effects.
ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.2 – ventilation for acceptable IAQ in residential buildings, which defines the roles of and minimum requirements for mechanical and natural ventilation systems and the building envelope intended to provide acceptable IAQ in low-rise residential buildings.
ANSI/ASHRAE/ASHE Standard 170 – ventilation of health care facilities, which addresses hospital spaces, outpatient spaces, and nursing home spaces.
ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 52.2 – method of testing general ventilation air-cleaning devices for removal efficiency by particle size, which establishes a method of laboratory testing to measure the performance of general ventilation air-cleaning devices in removing particles of specific diameters.
ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 55 – thermal environmental conditions for human occupancy, which specifies conditions for acceptable thermal environments and is intended for use in design, operation, and commissioning of buildings and other occupied spaces.
ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 185.2 – method of testing ultraviolet lamps for use in HVAC/R units or air ducts to inactivate microorganisms on irradiated surfaces, which establishes a test method for measuring the intensity of ultraviolet lamps on irradiated surfaces under typical HVAC/R operating conditions.
The document advises that new and existing healthcare waiting areas, crowded shelters, and similar facilities should go beyond the minimum requirements of the documents. The end goal is the better prepare the industry to control airborne infectious diseases (including a future pandemic caused by a new infectious agent).
Small particles remain airborne for a good amount of time and the design and operation of HVAC systems that move air can affect disease transmission. This includes supplying clean air to susceptible occupants, containing contaminated air or exhausting it to the outdoors, diluting the air in a space with cleaner air from outdoors or by filtering the air, and leaning the air within the room.
To address disease transmission, ASHRAE recommends dilution ventilation, laminar and other in-room flow regimes, differential room pressurization, personalized ventilation, source capture ventilation, filtration (central or unitary), and UVGI (upper room, in-room, and in the airstream).
ASHRAE also encourages owners, operators, and engineers to collaborate with infection prevention specialists knowledgeable about the transmission of infection in the community and the workplace. To view the full document, visit

Construction investment up in December

Investment in building construction.
Investment in building construction increased again for the month of December to $15.6 billion, with gains in both the residential and non-residential sectors, reports Statistics Canada. From 2018 to 2019, the total value of investment increased by 3.4 per cent to $181.8 billion.
Residential investment was up in five provinces, with notable gains in Ontario (increase of two per cent to $4.5 billion) and Alberta (increase of 3.2 per cent $1.1 billion).
Nationally, investment in multi-unit dwellings increased 2.8 per cent to $5.5 billion. Several major apartment building projects in Toronto led Ontario gains in multi-unit investment, up 7.2 per cent to $2.3 billion.
However, investment in single-unit dwellings decreased in every province except Alberta, leading to a national decline of 2.3 per cent to $5.1 billion.
For the non-residential industry, investment rose in six provinces with notable growth in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. Alberta declined for the sixth consecutive month, down 1.2 per cent to $695.5 million.
Investment in the institutional market rose 1.1 per cent to $1.1 billion. The ongoing addition to the Université de Montréal hospital centre and several other institutional housing projects led to strong increases in Quebec.
In the industrial sector, investment increased 1.6 per cent to $923 million with notable gains in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. The commercial component increased for the 23rd consecutive month, edging up 0.3 per cent to $2.9 billion in December.
Year over year
The total value of investment in building construction for 2019 increased by 3.4 per cent to $181.8 billion. Investment increased in six provinces with substantial gains in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario. Prince Edward Island reported the highest percentage growth in 2019, increasing 50.9 per cent to $851.7 million. The rising population in P.E.I. contributed to a significant increase in the residential sector.
For Alberta, investment in construction fell in 2019, dropping $2.5 billion from 2018. Declines in the residential sector resulted in the majority of this, down $2.1 billion to $11.7 billion, while non-residential investment declined by $400.6 million to $8.9 billion.
Nationally, investment in residential construction increased 2.3 per cent to $123.9 billion. Multi-unit investment continued to grow, while single-unit investment declined for back-to-back years, down 5.9 per cent to $61.3 billion.
Increases in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec led investment in multi-unit to surpass single-unit construction for the first time on an annual basis. Increased investment in apartments and row homes, along with decreased investment in single homes broadly reflected a national shift toward urban areas, reports Statistics Canada.
Investment in the non-residential sector increased in seven provinces in 2019, up six per cent to $57.9 billion. Growth in commercial and industrial investment more than offset declines in the institutional sector. Quebec and British Columbia combined for over 90 per cent of the non-residential growth largely due to an increase in commercial investment.
Nationally, investment in office buildings had the strongest growth, up 16.3 per cent to $11.6 billion, while schools and education buildings reported the largest decrease.

Bartle & Gibson moves into Sask.

Current Bartle & Gibson locations.
Bartle & Gibson, Edmonton, Alberta, will expand their wholesale business into Saskatchewan. The company’s first Saskatchewan branch will be located in Swift Current, which will fall under the southern prairies region. It opens in May, located at 633 North Railway St. W.
“As we expand into Swift Current, which is a hub of many neighbouring towns, we plan to grow our reputation of providing customers with exceptional service, integrity and quality products,” said the company in a press release.
The branch will stock plumbing, heating and electrical products within an 8,000 sq. ft. warehouse. Kevin Tuchscherer has been appointed branch manager and can be contacted at

Alberta allows mass timber construction up to 12 storeys

The Wood Innovation and Design Centre (WIDC) in downtown Prince George, B.C., is constructed using a repeatable and expandable system to use on other building types and sizes. B.C. was the first province to allow for 12-storey mass timber construction. Image provided by Province of British Columbia.
Alberta has added variances to the Alberta Building Code to allow encapsulated mass timber construction (EMTC) of buildings up to 12-storeys.
These changes will also be in the 2020 National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) and the National Fire Code of Canada (NFCC) when they are published in early 2021.
“A variance provides an alternative solution of approximately equivalent or greater safety performance to the prescriptive requirements of the codes. Any construction that complies with this variance is permitted just as if the building was constructed under code requirements,” the Alberta government said in a Standata released on Feb. 19.
EMTC refers to buildings where the mass timber components of the building are surrounded or “encapsulated” with fire-resistive material. Code provisions were developed by the National Research Council and the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes. The codes will provide an alternative solution to the National Building Code–2019 Alberta Edition (NBC(AE)) and the National Fire Code-2019 Alberta Edition (NFC(AE)).
The upcoming code provisions will also include additional requirements for fire protection during construction and ongoing maintenance.
Alberta has announced it will automatically enforce the national codes with minimal provincial variations 12-months from the publication date. “In order to advance the use of EMTC in Alberta, this variance will permit EMTC up to 12-storeys in building height anywhere in Alberta provided the conditions in this variance are complied with,” said the Standata.
The current requirements in the NBC(AE) separate buildings into two construction-type categories – combustible construction and non-combustible construction. The provisions restrict the height and area of buildings of combustible construction whereas they permit unlimited height and area for buildings of non-combustible construction.
“The combustible/non-combustible construction classification system was introduced in the National Codes over 50 years ago and is increasingly being regarded as being outdated and unnecessarily restrictive,” the Standata noted.
The NBC(AE) requires that buildings greater than six storeys in height be of non-combustible construction. This variance permits the construction of EMTC buildings of certain occupancy classifications up to 12 storeys in height.

Associations urge prime minister to resolve protest over B.C. pipeline

The Canadian economy is starting to feel the effects from the rail and infrastructure blockage due to a group protesting the B.C. pipeline. Various associations across Canada, including the Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating (CIPH), have penned a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to resolve the conflict quickly.
“We call on your government to work urgently with the provinces and territories, Indigenous leaders and law enforcement authorities to bring an end to the ongoing disruptions and restore normal services without further delay.”
The letter was sent to the prime minister on Feb. 18 and also sent to Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, NDP Leader Mr. Jagmeet Singh, and Interim Green Party Leader Jo-Ann Roberts.
“In addition to denying access to public transportation for tens of thousands of Canadians, these illegal blockades inflict serious damage on the economy, leaving countless middle-class jobs at risk, many of them in industries that must get their goods, parts, and ingredients to and from market by rail. In addition to disrupting domestic and global supply chains, the blockades undermine Canada’s reputation as a dependable partner in international trade. They also threaten public safety by preventing the distribution of essential products like chlorine for water treatment and propane for heating homes, seniors’ facilities and farms.”
Each additional day the blockage continues will require three to four days for supply chains to recover, said the letter. The letter is signed by CIPH president and general manager Ralph Suppa, Dan Kelly, president and CEO at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and Nathalie St-Pierre, president and CEO for the Canadian Propane Association, along with many other business association leaders.
The protests by the B.C.-based Wet’suwet’en First Nation and their supporters, including Mohawks in Ontario, have been ongoing in Ontario since the beginning of February and have stopped or disrupted rail transport across Canada.

Florida AHR Expo draws a crowd

Over 50,000 people attended the 2020 AHR Expo, held at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida, Feb. 3 to 5. The largest HVAC/R trade show in North America, this year’s event featured 1,900 companies exhibiting their latest products across the 506,090 sq. ft. show floor.
“The energy on the show floor this year was hard to miss. From corner to corner, in every booth, education session, event program, everywhere, it’s clear that this industry is alive and thriving,” said Mark Stevens, show manager.
“Leading into this show we knew there were some big changes happening across the industry and we saw that reflected in Orlando. It is truly an exciting time to be a part of the HVAC/R community and, if 2020 is any indication, it is just getting started.” The number of attendees at this year’s show was higher than last year which saw 45,078 attendees.
The 2020 show featured more than 200 educational sessions, covering topics such as Private Equity 101: What HVACR Founders Need to Know, Skilled Labour – Overcome the Shortage to Protect Your Business, and Building for a Climate Emergency.
In addition to the educational sessions, this year was the first year that the show hosted sessions led by an expert council. Topics included Obstacles and Opportunities for HVAC/R in the Next Decade, 2020 – Pivoting Towards a Post Carbon World and Impacts to the HVAC Industry, and Update on Refrigerants: Past, Present and Future.
“It’s all about connection and being in the room. If you don’t show up, you will not meet people, you will not learn and you cannot exchange expertise with people that are working in either the same or different role as you,” said Karine Leblanc, sales engineer with US Air Conditioning Distributors and a founding member of the AHR Expo Expert Council.
The show also featured for the first time a podcast pavilion and more than 100 product and technology presentations by exhibitors.
Danfoss won the 2020 Product of the Year for its CO2 Adaptive Liquid Management Solution. Danfoss was an innovation award winner in the Cooling, Green Building, and Refrigeration categories. The full list of winners at the show was: Building Automation – Delta Controls Inc., for their O3 Sensor Hub 2.0; Cooling – Danfoss for their Interlaced Micro Channel Heat Exchanger (IMCHE); Green Building – Danfoss for their Turbocor Tg490 Compressor; Heating – York for their LX Series Tl9e Ultra-Low NOx Gas Furnace; IAQ – Fresh-Aire UV for their Purity Low Profile Led 1-inch Polarized Filter/LED Disinfection System; Plumbing – LG Electronics USA, Inc., for their Hydro Kit; Refrigeration –  Danfoss for their Co2 Adaptive Liquid Management Solution; Software – Interplay Learning for their Skillmill Skilled Trades Course Catalog; Tools and Instruments – Matelex for their DNI (Détecteur De Niveau Intelligent/Smart Level Detector); and Ventilation – Infinitum Electric for their HVAC Motor.
“It was an honour to win Product of the Year for our Danfoss CO2 Adaptive Liquid Management (CALM) at the AHR Expo in Orlando considering all of the other category winners,” said Peter Dee, sales director of food retail for North America at Danfoss. “It exemplifies the Danfoss culture, people, and commitment to innovation. We continue to strive through innovation to help our customers and the industry meet their sustainability requirements and it is an honour to be recognized by the industry for these achievements.”
The 10 innovation award categories received the most entries ever since the program began 17 years ago. Entry fees are returned to the local community. This year $26,300 was presented to the Orange County Police Athletic League.
“The videos of this show online don’t do it justice. When you’re here you get to pick up the tool and feel how it actually works,” said Victor Grasso, an HVAC Service Technician from New Jersey says of his first AHR Expo. “It really assures me that if I purchase the tool in the future, I’ll know that I’m getting the right tool for the job. For a young person like me who is new to the trade, the show introduced me to a whole other aspect of the industry. I found so many products and companies I would have never known existed. This definitely won’t be my last show— I’ll be here for Chicago, Vegas, I’ll be here for life.”
Next year’s AHR Expo will take place Jan. 25 to 27 at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago. For more information, please visit

Geothermal conference will offer developers, municipalities a path to decarbonization

Some very large projects, like this 542-unit Toronto condo complex currently under construction, are using geothermal heating and cooling systems.
By Bruce Nagy
With multi-family and other commercial and government projects driving a significant surge in the geothermal market, the Ontario Geothermal Association (OGA) has this year created a conference for early April that will offer developers and municipalities a path to electrification and decarbonization. Some municipalities are already actively promoting cleaner systems and passing tough regulations that aim to see fossil fuels largely replaced in buildings of all sizes by the end of the 2020s.
The OGA has invited speakers from geothermal-friendly developers, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Clean Air Partnership (CAP – which provides municipal government training) the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), and some of the most aggressive cities, such as Toronto and Vancouver. For municipal planners who can’t make the trek to Mississauga for the event, the OGA is arranging to live stream the conference.
The event’s opening gala keynote presentation will be delivered by two experts on clean building regulations. Alex Blue from engineering firm Morrison Hershfield will explain the BC Energy Step Code, and the City of Toronto’s Fernando Carou will talk about the Toronto Green Standard.
Innovative funding approaches
The breakthrough with developers of multi-family residential and commercial projects has been a story of innovative funding approaches that have led to successful large condo and institutional projects in Toronto and other Canadian cities. These employ third party entities to own and operate systems, allaying developer concerns about technology and capital. Two executives from Toronto developer CollecDev will describe some of these projects at the conference.
Alex Blue, left, will explain how the BC Energy Step Code works. The City of Toronto’s Fernando Carou, right, will talk about the Toronto Green Standard.
“We’ve been talking about our clean energy and cost advantages for years, and now the cities seem really interested,” said OGA President Stan Reitsma. “A lot of high profile projects have been proving themselves, so there’s more excitement. We seem to be expanding our reach, conference sponsorships are selling out fast, and registrations are ahead of last year.”
Considered the key geothermal industry event of the year, the OGA Conference will take place April 8-9 at the Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale Hotel (previously the Delta) in Mississauga, Ont.
It’s a professional development opportunity, and a chance to reconnect with friends, relax and recharge before the busy summer season gets underway. For more information, please visit

Government looks to women to help solve skilled labour shortage

One thing that has changed dramatically in the past 20 years is the number of young women entering the trades.
The Canadian government is trying to address the labour shortage by attracting more females into the skilled trades.
On Feb. 13, Filomena Tassi, minister of labour, announced the new Build a Dream’s Career Exploration Expansion project in Windsor, Ont., which is aimed at attracting female high school students in careers in the skilled trades in the area.
“Our government’s support for this project with Build a Dream will help Windsor’s young women in high school get ready for good jobs in the skilled trades, build better lives for themselves and make their communities stronger,” said Tassi.
Around 5,000 girls are expected to benefit from the program. The program received $728,000 through the Skilled Trades Awareness and Readiness program, which encourages all Canadians to pursue careers in the skilled trades.
“The new Skilled Trades Awareness and Readiness program will help equip young Canadian women facing barriers to employment with the foundational skills, knowledge and experience they need to get training and start well-paying careers in the skilled trades,” explained Qualtrough.
“By creating a skilled, diverse and inclusive workforce, our government is strengthening the middle class and creating a more prosperous country.” The Skilled Trades Awareness and Readiness program started with $6 million in 2018-19 and $10 million per year ongoing.
As part of this year-year project, high school age women will benefit from career expos and exploratory workshops where they can try out a trade and have access to an online resource where they can connect with professional skilled tradeswomen.
Between 2019 to 2028, about 700,000 skilled trades workers are expected to retire, reports the Canadian Occupational Projection System, 2019 Projections. Currently, only nine per cent of Red Seal apprentices are women. The average age of a starting apprentice is 29 years old.

Canadian immigration system failing workers and employers, reports CFIB

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is calling upon the government to make changes to the immigration system to help employers connect with workers. They are asking the government to create an “Introduction to Canada Visa” as a pathway to permanent residency for foreign workers in high demand sectors.
The current immigration system is not meeting the needs of small and medium-sized employers who are facing labour shortages, reports CFIB. “Our immigration system does not make it easy for smaller employers and immigrants to connect and work together,” said Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB’s senior vice-president of national affairs.
“Employers who use the immigration system to fill a vacancy face a complex web of red tape and high costs, especially if they are hiring a temporary foreign worker. Once workers are in Canada and have become integrated in their communities and workplaces, it can be extremely difficult to retain them because there are limited pathways to permanent residency, especially for those with lower skill levels.” A full report titled “Workers without borders: Addressing SME labour shortages through immigration,” was released by CFIB on the issue.
The majority of labour shortages in small businesses are for jobs that require a college diploma or apprenticeship (46 per cent), or a high school diploma or on the job training (31 per cent).
Small business owners who cannot find a worker locally may turn to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program, reports CFIB. When working through this system, employers must fill out several forms, pay non-refundable fees, and wait six to 12 months or more to receive approval before they can begin recruiting.
“When small business owners turn to the immigration system to fill a vacant position, it’s because they have tried everything else and run out of options,” explains Emilie Hayes, senior policy analyst at CFIB and lead author of the report. “The cost and stress they have to go through to recruit a foreign worker wouldn’t be worth it if this wasn’t their last resort to keep their business operational, and sometimes keep their Canadian workers employed as well.”

Canadian association raising awareness about the dangers of lead in drinking water

The Plumbing and Mechanical Advisory Council (PMAC) of the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH) has released a fact sheet on the challenges of lead in drinking water, what lead is, how it can affect a person’s health, and recommendations on how to manage lead in drinking water, after recent media attention.
In Canada, there is a maximum acceptable concentration of lead allowed in drinking water of five micrograms per litre or five parts per billion. Levels of lead should be kept as low as possible. Lead is a naturally occurring substance found in soil, food and the air. While lead can leach into drinking water from service lines and plumbing, the bulk of human exposure is from other sources, reports PMAC. The current Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standard for lead is 10 micrograms per litre or 10 parts per billion.
“In general, water that is treated and distributed in municipal systems is lead-free. Water leaves the municipal treatment plants and travels through the water mains lead-free. However, drinking water can come into contact with lead in the service lines (that connect each property to the water main). Lead can also be found in plumbing materials in the home, such as lead pipes, brass fittings, and lead solder,” explains PMAC.
They recommend that if water should be tested through a private laboratory to determine lead levels. A list of commercially licensed laboratories that test for lead in drinking water can be found on the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks’ website. Some municipalities and public health units have free testing in conjunction with a local waterworks department. In new installations, PMAC recommends flushing out pipes before drinking or cooking with any of the water from the tap
It is best to only use cold tap water for drinking, preparing infant formula or cooking, since hot water increases the leaching of lead and other metals from plumbing. Regularly clean aerators on taps used for drinking water and food preparation.
“If you opt to use a water treatment device, ensure that it is certified to remove lead from the drinking water. CSA B483.1 or NSF 53 certified devices that have specific lead removal claims developed. CSA B483.1 is referenced and supported in the plumbing code in all jurisdictions in Canada.
For additional information, refer to local municipalities or Health Canada’s, “Drinking water: what about lead?” document, PMAC advises.