Building construction investment increased in January

Investment in building construction, seasonally adjusted.
Investment in building construction increased slightly in January by 0.5 per cent up to $15.6 billion. On a constant dollar basis, investment was up 0.9 per cent to $12.9 billion compared with December 2019.
Investment in the residential sector remained unchanged in January. Increases in Quebec, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia offset declines in the seven other provinces. Quebec led residential investment in both single-unit dwellings (up 6.6 per cent to $1 billion) and multi-unit dwellings (up 4.7 per cent to $1.3 billion). Investment growth in single-unit dwellings outweighs the lower investment in single-unit dwellings reported in all other provinces.
All three components of non-residential investment were up in January, rising 1.4 per cent to $5.1 billion. Both Quebec and Ontario reported notable growth, while Alberta declined 1.5 per cent to $682.1 million.
The commercial component was the largest contributor to non-residential growth – up 1.8 per cent to $3 billion. Quebec reported the largest gains, primarily due to major projects – such as the National Bank head office in Montreal.
The institutional sector rose 0.9 per cent to $1.2 billion. Toronto helped propel Ontario up 2.8 per cent to $423.8 million. Declines in B.C. and Alberta slightly offset gains in Ontario.
Industrial construction increased 0.8 per cent to $928.3 million – gains in seven provinces outweighed declines in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

Ont. and Que. take different approach to essential services during pandemic

This contractor is installing a PRV valve to copper with SharkBite fittings and then transitioning to PEX with a purpose-made fitting.
The Ontario and Quebec governments released a list of essential workplaces that will remain open during the pandemic. The lists were made available to the public on March 23.
Working from home or online will still be permitted for all businesses.
For the HVAC/R industry, this means that many are still allowed to work and operate. In Ontario, businesses that provide support and maintenance services such as plumbers, management services, electricians, fire safety and sprinkler systems, building systems maintenance and repair technicians and engineers, mechanical (like HVAC technicians), and other service providers. Businesses that provide chemicals and gases to support natural resources involving drinking water and wastewater, were also on the list.
The construction industry was also included as part of the list. Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector, required to ensure the operations of provincial infrastructure, demolition services, and support health and safety environment rehabilitation can also keep operating.
For the full list, please visit www.ontario.ca/page/list-essential-workplaces.
Quebec
The Quebec government has ordered the closing of all non-essential stores and services as of March 25. Construction has been deemed part of those non-essential services, however, construction firms for emergency dispatching or security; electricians, plumbers and other trades for emergency services; rental equipment; and building-maintenance firms (elevators, ventilation, and alarms) will remain open and are considered essential.
For the full list, please visit www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/2019-coronavirus/essential-services-commercial-activities-covid19/.

Industry work critical, HRAI tells governments

Reliance Home Comfort installer works on adding the ventilation system to the HVAC equipment during this retrofit.
As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis continues and work slows to a trickle for many contractors, industry associations are reminding governments of how critical the services provided by the plumbing and HVAC/R industry are.
“We are advocating that governments understand that the products and services of the HVACR industry – heating and cooling for occupant comfort and safety, refrigeration processes for food preservation and medical care, etc. – are essential services for Canadians, and give appropriate consideration as such in policies and programs that are rolled out to address the pandemic,” reported Sandy McLeod, president of the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI), in a letter to members.
“HRAI is also pressing for appropriate financial supports for business owners, self-employed contractors and employees who may be especially vulnerable during the economic downturn resulting from restrictions on activity,” he added.
For the most part, governments understand that, noted Martin Luymes, HRAI vice president of programs and relations, particularly on the commercial and institutional side where it’s critical that hospitals and other infrastructure remain open and that there are tradespeople available to make repairs and keep equipment running. “We don’t really have to make the point, but we will anyway.”
At the same time, he notes, many residential service contractors are seeing work dry up, as people cancel projects and delay planned maintenance. Some contractors have suggested that HVAC/R service be declared an essential service. The problem is that once an industry is deemed “essential”, it can no longer lay off staff, said Luymes.
Industry associations are also struggling as shows, training and other events are cancelled or postponed. The Canadian Mechanicals and Plumbing Exposition (CMPX) was to take place in Toronto March 25-27 and the MEET Show was to take place in Moncton, N.B. May 6-7. Both have been postponed. These are major revenue streams for the organizations.
“We’re all about putting people in rooms together,” remarked Luymes.
HRAI has developed a number of resources to help contractors and others in the industry navigate their way through the COVID-19 crisis on its website at www.hrai.ca.
“It’s amazing how fast the world moves in times of crisis. Just 10 days ago, we were confident that our popular biennial show, CMPX, would run as expected, today it’s hard to imagine attending an event of any size,” remarked McLeod.

Atlantic trade show postponed until November

Busy times at the General Pipe Cleaners booth at MEET 2016. These shows offer a great opportunity to speak directly to manufacturers.
The 2020 MEET show in Moncton, N.B. has been postponed until Nov. 18-19 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The government of New Brunswick has recommended that any non-essential mass gatherings of 150 or more people be cancelled or postponed in order to limit the spread of the virus.
The event was originally scheduled for May 6-7 at the Moncton Coliseum Complex.
“The decision to postpone the event was not taken lightly and was made in consultation with the show’s four sponsoring associations, with the health and safety of exhibitors, partners, visitors, and contractors top of mind,” said show manager Shawn Murphy of Master Promotions Ltd., Saint John, N.B., in a letter to exhibitors.
For more information, please visit http://www.meetshow.ca/.

Skills Canada cancels 2020 national competition

The Skills Canada National Competition and several provincial-level Skills competitions for apprentices have been cancelled. Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia have all announced that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, upcoming provincial competitions have been cancelled.
The Skills Canada National Competition 2020 was scheduled for May 27-30 in Vancouver. “After much discussion with out provincial/territorial member organizations, stakeholders and taking guidance from our public health authorities, we felt it was prudent to cancel the event. The health and safety of our student participants, spectators, volunteers, partners, and staff are paramount and we did not feel we could deliver an event that would meet the current coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines provided by Canada’s public health authorities,” said the Skills Canada announcement.

Lennox announces heat pump recall

 
MPA018S4M-1P
Lennox Industries is recalling three models of outdoor units for Lennox heat pumps. They pose a fire hazard as they can overheat. The indoor unit doesn’t pose a risk of overheating and is not the subject of the recall. The three products affected by the recall are:
 
LII Model Number          Serial Number                                      Sale Date Range (United States and Canada)
MPA018S4M-1P            6915XXXXXX or 6916XXXXXX           Jan. 2016 through Nov. 2019
MPA048S4S-1P            6915XXXXXX or 6916XXXXXX           Feb. 2016 through Nov. 2019
MPA048S4M-1P            6915XXXXXX or 6916XXXXXX           Jan. 2016 through Nov. 2019
There have been two reports of overheating, where one resulted in a fire. In neither incident were there any personal injuries or property damage, other than to the unit itself.
For more information regarding the recalled units, please call 1-800-527-3506.

Accidents are more likely to happen on lifts when working in public areas, report

Accidents while using mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) – like scissor or boom lifts – are more likely when working in public areas or alongside roads than on controlled work sites such as construction sites, report International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) as part of their latest detailed safety analysis.
Accidents on construction sites account for the joint highest average number per year, but as MEWPs are used much more widely in construction than in other sectors.
The new report also identifies recurring underlying causes of incidents involving MEWPs as falls from the platform, electrocutions, entrapments, tip-overs, and being struck by another vehicle.
“We’ve worked hard along with a dedicated group of IPAF members to analyze, interpret and present the data in a new way, to assist the wider industry to stay safe,” explains Richard Whiting, general market manager – the United Kingdom and Ireland for IPAF. “One key change is that, rather than comparing a full year’s accident data to previous years, the most recent three full years of available data have been combined to produce an aggregate and average number of incidents – combining data into a larger overall set allows trends over time to be more readily identified.”
The industries which saw more frequent deaths were forestry and construction, with maintenance and electrical service sectors third and fourth. Construction had an annual average of 19 reported fatalities, but the total number of days worked using MEWPs in construction is far higher than the other industries listed.
All companies and individuals are encouraged to report incidents involving MEWPs, mast climbing work platforms (MCWPs), and other types of lifting equipment via www.ipaf.org/accident.
IPAF’s Global MEWP Safety Report 2016-2018 presents findings from the federation’s analysis of accident statistics gathered through its worldwide accident reporting project, which has incident reporting from 25 countries around the globe. The report is now available via www.ipaf.org/accident.

OGA postpones annual conference due to COVID-19 pandemic

Pump manufacturer Armstrong was among the exhibitors at the 2019 OGA Conference.
The 2020 Ontario Geothermal Conference is the latest industry event to fall victim to the COVID-19 pandemic (commonly known as the coronavirus).
“Due to the COVIC-19 threat to the wellbeing of our community, the OGA is working with the Hilton Hotel on new dates in early fall for the OGA conference,” reported the association on its website.
The conference was supposed to be held April 8-9 at the Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale Hotel (previously the Delta) in Mississauga, Ont. Registrants will receive refunds and sponsors and exhibitors can choose a refund or keep their sponsorship in place for the fall date, to be announced.
For more information, please visit www.ontariogeothermal.ca.

Danfoss accepting applications for annual EnVisioneer of the Year award

Danfoss is accepting entries for its 11th annual EnVisioneer of the Year award competition, which recognizes original equipment manufacturers, building owners, municipalities, contractors, and end users for advancement in energy efficiency in North America.
The award was launched in 2010 and is recognizes those who introduce a new product, open a new facility, or invest in a building or system upgrade within the past 18 months using Danfoss products.
Applications must be submitted by July 15 and will be reviewed and selected by a panel of third-party judges representing various disciplines.
In 2019, Arctic Chiller Group was the winner. They used Danfoss’ Turbocor oil-free magnetic bearing centrifugal compressors in the development of its air and water-cooled chillers.
For more information about the competition, please visit https://www.danfoss.com/en-us/about-danfoss/insights-for-tomorrow/envisioneer-of-the-year/.

NSF urges creation of cooling tower registries to combat Legionella

Poorly maintained evaporative cooling towers can contribute to the spread of Legionnaires’ disease.
A new policy report from the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF International), Ann Arbor, Michigan, is urging the creation of electronic registration systems for cooling towers in an effort to track and prevent the outbreak of Legionella.
A report, titled Electronic Registration Systems for Cooling Towers – Improving Public Health and Sustainability Outcomes, was published March 9 by the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN). It proposes a standardized yet flexible template for cooling tower registries that are designed to improve health outcomes, address disparity in affected populations, and increase water and energy efficiency.
“Cooling tower registries are a demonstrably effective and proactive tool for improving public health and fulfilling water efficiency goals,” said Patrick Ryan, M.Sc., P.Eng., chief building official for the City of Vancouver, a key participant city in the new report. Hamilton, Ont. and Quebec City also have cooling tower registries.
“Establishing a cooling tower registry is the crucial first step to dramatically improve the ability to meet public health and sustainability goals. This touch-stone document provides the scientific basis for creating cooling tower registries and the road map to ensure their successful implementation,” said Chris Boyd, general manager of building water health at NSF Health Sciences.
Most North American cities do not track the location of cooling towers and are “forced to rely on imprecise methodologies during public health emergencies,” the report says, adding that there is a “continued tolerance of widely divergent maintenance practices by building owners.”
According to the report, registries provide municipalities with a management tool for maintenance record-keeping and support to building owners to meet regulations.
“The City of Vancouver is a true leader in North America in advancing public health measures in urban water systems. The uptake of this work is incredible to watch, proving the need for resources to support city inventory of cooling towers to prevent Legionella outbreaks. USDN is pleased to have been able to provide support for such an important effort,” said Nils Moe, USDN executive director.
NSF Health Sciences LLC, an NSF International company, and GroveWare Technologies developed the report for USDN with workshop input from more than 20 federal, state, provincial, city health, environmental, sustainability, water and/or building agencies.
Better monitoring needed
Cooling towers are the point where heat extracted from a building is dissipated to the atmosphere through an evaporative process. As such, they are a critical component of cooling systems in commercial, industrial, health care, hospitality and residential facilities. There are more than two million cooling towers in the United States alone, making them more common than elevators, yet much less regulated, according to the report.
Poorly maintained cooling towers can disperse Legionella through contaminated water droplets that are created as part of the cooling process. Once inhaled, the bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease, an acute form of pneumonia, and the less severe Pontiac fever.
According to a study published in April 2018 in Current Environmental Health Reports, cooling towers were implicated or suspected in the majority of Legionnaires’ disease outbreak-associated deaths examined during the study period between 2006-2017.
With Legionnaires’ disease at a record high, the report argues that cities, states and water utilities should create electronic cooling tower registration systems to improve surveillance and response to cases, as well as to prevent exposure to Legionella bacteria by encouraging proper maintenance of cooling towers.
Additionally, since poor energy conservation practices increase water demand on buildings, registries are an important sustainability tool that can help evaluate the effectiveness of maintenance plans and identify areas for improved efficiency, the report highlights.
Response times critical
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a record number of 9,933 Legionnaires’ cases in 2018, a more than eightfold increase since 2000. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) in a 2019 report estimated as many as 70,000 people per year in the United States alone may suffer from the disease, and recommended adoption of cooling tower registries to help prevent or to rapidly respond to outbreaks. Response time is critical in an outbreak and proactively knowing the locations of cooling towers can help public health investigators pinpoint the source for remediation.
According to the CDC, one in 10 cases is fatal, and 90 percent of the outbreaks are preventable.
New York City was the first U.S. city to create an electronic cooling tower registry system after a large outbreak in 2015 that sickened 138 people and led to 16 deaths.
The report details IT specifications to create and rapidly implement an electronic cooling tower registration system.
“Technology plays a key role in nurturing a healthy urban living environment. The USDN workshop provided us the opportunity to share our experience deploying the New York City Registration Portal with participating governments and provided attendees with a roadmap for a successful program implementation,” said Hrair Achkarian, president and CEO of GroveWare Technologies Inc., the software firm that developed New York City’s cooling tower registration system.
Water use, efficiency also tracked
Registries can also be a crucial tool to measure key sustainability performance indicators, aiding jurisdictions in evaluating the effectiveness of a building’s water conservation plans and identifying areas for improved energy efficiency.
Cooling towers can be a significant source of water demand for a building, representing 20 to 50 percent of total water usage, according to the report, which added that poor management practices result in millions of wasted gallons of water per year in a single cooling tower. In Los Angeles alone, for example, it is estimated that more than two billion gallons of water per year are wasted, according to the report.
The report reflects information collected from participants in webinars on April 15, May 17 and July 16, 2019; as well as a two-day workshop conducted Sept. 9-10, 2019, at the annual Legionella Conference in Los Angeles co-hosted by NSF Health Sciences and the National Environmental Health Association.
NSF and GroveWare also conducted interviews with several agencies participating in the USDN project to gain insight into what criteria and factors were critical to their public health and sustainability missions.
NSF Health Sciences is presenting the findings of the report at upcoming events. Public agencies interested in receiving a training/workshop on cooling tower registration systems, Legionnaires’ disease outbreak response investigations and/or sustainability strategies for cooling tower systems should contact NSF Health Sciences LLC’s building water health team at 1-734-769-8010. Read the report with a full list of participant cities at USDN and NSF.