Sustainability: Achieving the Complete Package

The word “sustainability” is often used these days. The “Green movement” has infiltrated every aspect of our culture, and this heightened awareness of engaging in sustainable practices can be both positive and negative. The general public is now savvier about sustainability and its important benefits, but this has also made “sustainability” into a commonly used marketing tool.

True sustainability is more than a buzzword used to cash in on the Green movement. Sustainability isn’t just about external appearances and doing what looks good in the eyes of the public. True sustainability focuses on improving efficiencies and performance, lowering operating costs, streamlining environmental and material impacts, measuring short- and long-term payoffs and redefining the status quo—especially in those elements that aren’t highly touted or marketable. It takes true commitment to stay firm to sustainability even when no one’s watching or patting you on the back.

ISL Engineering and Land Services follows the Four Principles established by The Natural Step to guide our integrated sustainable approach. We recognize that each project is unique and has site-specific requirements and client-specific goals, but our approach is first and foremost informed by these principles. We strive to understand the needs, pressures and sensitivities of each community and our projects work towards eliminating challenges with truly sustainable solutions.

Front and Centre Sustainable Elements

This approach has informed ISL’s latest project, a new water treatment plant for the Town of Drayton Valley. The building — designed by Manasc Isaac Architects and powered by Magna IV Engineering — will be 11,000 square feet with a treatment capacity of 18 million litres per day (MLD) and includes a 2800 m3 potable water storage reservoir. The treatment plant was designed with a sustainable approach that includes solar wall heating, maximum daylight utilization by way of translucent windows and photovoltaic energy generation. There will also be a green roof installed over the administrative portion of the building as part of a pilot project to test how well it holds up in Drayton Valley’s climate.

These are all great elements and, taken alone, are more than enough to qualify this project for sustainable excellence, but these are only the visible examples of the finished project’s sustainability. Jason Kopan, project manager with ISL, sums up ISL’s holistic approach by saying, “It’s not only what’s built, it’s how it’s built.”

Behind the Scenes Construction Practices

To meet expectations from the Town that as many sustainable and environmentally conscious aspects as possible be incorporated, initiatives to lessen the environmental footprint of the construction site have been undertaken right from the start. In fact, there are seven pages worth of environmental initiatives being followed by Nason Contracting Group, who are diligently tracking the impact that these measures are having on the overall construction footprint. Some of these initiatives are:

  • a no idling policy for vehicles and equipment when not in use
  • use of compostable or reusable coffee cups on site at all times
  • separating out all recyclable material to divert from the landfill, up to 75 per cent is expected
  • significant use of recycled steel in the building structure
  • reduced CO2 emission concrete is sourced locally using fly-ash cement substitute from the local power plant waste
  • excess or unused concrete is crushed to use as aggregate for roads and backfill
  • wood waste is stripped of nails and sent to Valley Power for reuse
  • ash from the burnt wood is distributed for use in balancing pH levels in local farmers’ fields
  • 75 per cent of the site will be restored to its natural state post-construction

A Centre of Excellence

All of these initiatives ensure that the new treatment plant will exceed all expectations while quietly doing the job it was designed for. The Town of Drayton Valley wants the building to be a centre of excellence, and this project certainly brings the work of water treatment out into the open. Once finished, the area surrounding the treatment plant will have park space, a large lake and walking paths, turning an infrastructure necessity into a public amenity. There will also be a viewing window onto the main process area, allowing educational tours to take place and highlighting the treatment work undertaken to turn river water into drinking water.

The new Drayton Valley water treatment plant will showcase the complete package needed to reimagine the scope of truly sustainable design and construction.

Drayton Valley Western Review

This project has caught the attention of the Drayton Valley community and the Drayton Valley Western Review newspaper recently interviewed Jason Kopan (ISL) and Greg Germain (Nason Contracting Group). Read the article on their website, or see below.

Drayton Valley Western Review

July 31, 2014

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