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Incorporating Climate Vulnerability Assessments into Infrastructure Design/Build Requests for Proposals.

Issue Statement: May 4, 2016

Properly designed, constructed and maintained infrastructure creates economic growth through job creation and supports our quality of life while protecting the environment and keeping Canadians safe. Assessing the climate vulnerabilities of infrastructure is extremely important because it prepares and informs engineers, planners and infrastructure owners on the potential risks from extreme weather events and climate change. Engineers Canada believes one of the best ways to ensure safe resilient infrastructure is to ensure that climate vulnerability assessments, using tools such as the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee Protocol (PIEVC), are included as one of the mandatory  criteria to be addressed in funding requests as well as in requests for proposals (RFP) for  designing, constructing and maintaining infrastructure.

Incorporating climate vulnerability assessments for infrastructure projects ensures that extreme weather and future climate is appropriately considered in the design and building stages. This work is vital to informing measures in the design and construction to assure infrastructure resilience to increasingly frequent climate extremes that would otherwise cause expensive damage and recovery.    

Engineers Canada believes that a quality-based selection process that includes due consideration of climate is far superior to selection based strictly on lowest price for evaluating infrastructure engineering design and build proposals. It is vitally important to require vulnerability assessment in RFPs to level the playing field for bidders who would otherwise ignore climate considerations to lower their price but incorporate unknown climate vulnerabilities.

Background

The Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee Protocol (PIEVC) is a structured, formalized and documented process for engineers, planners and decision-makers to engage themselves with various stakeholders to identify and recommend measures to address the vulnerabilities and risks from climate change on infrastructure. It was developed between 2005 and 2012 through a partnership between Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and Engineers Canada as part of an on-going, long-term national project to assess the vulnerability of Canada’s infrastructure to our changing climate.

More than $6 million in Federal, provincial, municipal funding and volunteer professional services organized through Engineers Canada were invested into the Protocol. These resources supported the evolution of the Protocol and its application to a wide variety of individual infrastructures in everywhere from small communities to large cities in Canada. It has also been applied internationally to projects in Costa Rica and Honduras as part of international capacity-building efforts.

The assessment results from the Protocol have helped infrastructure owners recommend and implement design, operations and maintenance actions to improve the project’s life cycle through increased resilience. 

Quick Facts

Over 45 Canadian and two international assessments of climate vulnerabilities have been completed or are in progress using the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee Protocol. You can find a database of completed assessment reports here.

The Protocol has been applied across a wide range of infrastructure systems that include: buildings (residential, commercial and institutional); storm water/wastewater systems, roads and associated structures (e.g. bridges and culverts) potable water supply and management systems, electricity distribution and airport infrastructure.

Next Steps

We are encouraged with the government’s commitment to support infrastructure owners, including municipalities, to develop the capacity to support climate vulnerability assessments that improve resilience planning and implementation. Engineers Canada encourages the application of the Protocol for all types of infrastructure going forward, new or old. It is available for use at no financial charge through a license agreement with Engineers Canada that includes technical support and advice. Training is also provided on a cost-recovery basis.

Engineers Canada will work with the Federal government to integrate the results of climate vulnerability assessments, such as Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee Protocol, for evidence to support changes to building codes and standards that incorporate our changing climate resilience.

Engineers Canada will collaborate with all levels of government to advise and propose language to incorporate requirements for climate vulnerability assessments in building codes and Request for Proposals for infrastructure design and construction projects.