A report commissioned by the Canadian Construction Association calls upon the federal government to devise new funding approaches to consider the upfront costs of designing infrastructure that protects our communities from climate change.
“Physical infrastructure has been assessed as one of six major climate change risk areas that are nationally significant and could lead to significant losses, damages, or disruptions over the next 20 years in Canada,” says the report Strength, Resilience, Sustainability, released March 25.
“It has been estimated that infrastructure failures linked to climate change could cost Canada $300 billion over the next decade if no further changes are made to existing practices.”
The report contains recommendations for governments at all levels, to ensure infrastructure is fortified or constructed in a manner that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and resists the impacts of climate change.
MHCA President Chris Lorenc said the report has been long-awaited, recognizing that the construction industry on both the vertical and horizontal sides are in the front-line of adaptation to climate change.
Buildings are having to adopt ‘green’ technology, to cut GHG emissions and to manage significant temperature swings; the heavy construction industry is being called upon to build infrastructure such as water-control structures, that anticipate extreme weather events.
“There will have to be innovative solutions to all the issues that a changing climate will throw at the construction industry,” Lorenc said. “Governments should take advantage of the experience of private-sector, which is uniquely positioned to put new ideas, novel solutions on the table during both the design and the construction stages of a project.”
The CCA report notes that the Canadian construction industry has proven itself capable of building infrastructure across a country where weather and landform vary dramatically. But, it adds, meeting the developing challenges in the face of climate change requires a paradigm shift, “towards a long-term investment model that values resilient design and materials up-front.”
Research indicates that the benefits of investing in community adaptation and resilience outweigh the cost of such investments by a ratio of six to one, the report explains.
“In a competitive landscape, it is unrealistic to think that construction companies will add costs to their bids to take into account longterm resilience if the client, whether within the public or private sectors, does not explicitly consider it a requirement of the bid.”