When COVID-19 hit, Stantec – a global leader in sustainable design and engineering – already had a pandemic preparedness plan up its sleeve, covering everything from reducing high-touch surfaces to improving air quality in its buildings.
Alongside helping organizations hit their climate goals, it’s this kind of emergency management expertise that Stantec offers its clients. But the firm doesn’t believe in hands-off mentoring: in 2023, six of Stantec’s offices – including its Ottawa location – applied for the WELL Health-Safety Rating, which helps facilities implement science-backed policies and plans for health and safety.
The WELL Health-Safety Rating is administered by the New York-based International WELL Building Institute. To achieve the rating, a building must implement strategies and protocols aimed at improving the health and well-being of its occupants.
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In Stantec’s case, its goals were to reduce the number of hazardous chemicals used in everyday cleaning products as well as implement emergency preparedness measures, introduce policies to help ensure business continuity after an emergency and more.
Thanks to the firm’s existing internal expertise, it took Stantec just six months to fulfil the requirements needed for the WELL Health-Safety Rating across all six offices.
“We wanted to not only demonstrate to our staff that our workplace is safe and environmentally friendly, but we also want it to show to our clients that we not only identify and design solutions, but we also implement them,” says Dylan Hemmings, Stantec’s vice-president and regional leader for Ontario.
He says that willingness to walk the talk is what distinguishes Stantec from other firms.
Stantec has more than 26,000 staff around the world, with 400-plus offices across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Asia.
Hemmings’ personal journey with Stantec began 18 years ago, when he was an environmental practitioner at a company that Stantec acquired.
“My role in my career has always been providing environmental support,” he says.
Outside of the WELL Health and Safety Rating, Stantec is busy with several projects.
“We have clients that are looking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and their reliance on fossil fuels,” Hemmings says. “A lot of the work that our buildings’ team is doing is really focused on that area.”
One major project is the Energy Services Acquisition Program, which is modernizing the way that the federal government heats and cools buildings to support its decarbonization efforts across the National Capital Region.
Stantec ran a pilot project to upgrade the energy system at 875 Heron Rd., which houses offices for the Canada Revenue Agency. The project won Stantec an award for design excellence from the Real Property Institute of Canada.
“The results exceeded expectations and were higher than the ESAP program guidelines, which indicates that this type of conversion can be completed for other buildings around Ottawa,” Hemmings says.
He adds that, over the next 35 years, the government’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent and save more than $500 million on energy expenses.
“Everyone’s on a different path to achieving that (net) zero,” Hemmings says of Stantec’s clients. “We’re helping our clients in every respect to meet their climate goals and their net-zero pledges.”
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