Building climate-resilient infrastructure for tomorrow

Investment in climate resilient infrastructure is imperative as climate-related factors contribute to increased droughts, floods, hurricanes and wildfires. In 2022, the United States faced 18 weather and climate disasters costing at least $1 billion.

Research by MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Hub shows that such investments in climate-resilient infrastructure often pay for themselves in just two years in hazard-prone regions. Every dollar spent on resilience can save up to $11 in long-term repair costs.

With a history of over 470 water and wastewater projects, PCL Construction integrates climate-resilient building strategies into its work. Known for bringing innovative solutions to the table and leveraging cutting-edge technologies, PCL is at the forefront of these transformative climate-resilient infrastructure projects gaining momentum across the United States.

Pioneering climate-resilient infrastructure solutions in water and wastewater projects

When tackling climate challenges on diverse civil infrastructure projects, PCL has identified resilient solutions for clients in the water and wastewater markets.

In Arizona, PCL is collaborating with the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona (WIFA) to tackle the pressing issue of water shortages within the state. In 2022, Arizona was asked to cut its Colorado River water usage by 20%, a response to exceedingly low water levels which further exacerbated the state’s water crisis. PCL is playing a pivotal role in formulating solutions to address the urgent water scarcity in Arizona.

Unlike conventional project processes where clients typically identify a need and subsequently engage a builder, PCL’s involvement with WIFA represents a unique approach. In this instance, PCL is part of the ideation phase, offering concepts and strategies to create projects that will effectively enhance the water supply in Arizona.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to partner with other industry leaders and be pioneers, focusing on holistic solutions right from the start,” said Mauricio Ramos, district manager for PCL’s civil infrastructure division.

The issue of water scarcity isn’t unique to Arizona; it’s a widespread concern affecting numerous regions across North America. Communities are grappling with a range of challenges, such as droughts, contaminated groundwater and inadequate infrastructure for water access. In response, there’s a continuous need for water reuse facilities to re-purpose wastewater for non-potable and potable uses. PCL has experience building a variety of innovative water reuse and drought resiliency projects, including advanced water purification systems which are starting to gain traction across the U.S.

Envisioning sustainability in infrastructure projects

Not only does PCL bring expertise in climate-resilient infrastructure solutions but the company is also experienced in Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP) certification. Envision is similar to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) certification but applies to public infrastructure and focuses on the impact on communities, while LEED applies to public or private construction and focuses on occupancy comfort and energy efficiency.

Envision was designed to help infrastructure stakeholders implement more sustainable, resilient and equitable projects.

“There is a growing trend among clients who are increasingly inquiring about the Envision certification. This rating system, relatively new but rapidly gaining popularity, is particularly attractive to municipalities aiming to develop sustainable, resilient and equitable civil projects,” said Ramos.

A noteworthy project in Salt Lake City currently stands as a prime example of PCL’s commitment to Envision credentials. This project, the second-largest public infrastructure project undertaken by the city, will have the capacity to process 48 million gallons of wastewater. In its pursuit of Envision certification, this project is targeting 25% recycled material usage during construction and a 50% reduction in construction waste. So far, 77,000 tons of material have been recycled and all excavated materials have been responsibly sourced or repurposed within a five-mile radius of the project site.

Precision technology in climate-resilient construction

When it comes to building climate resiliency, technology plays an important role. Software like PCL’s own technology Job Site Insights™ (JSI™) allows teams to monitor the humidity and moisture levels during construction with 100% precision and accuracy to maintain quality. This sensor technology monitors heat and moisture tolerances to ensure concrete foundations are set to their maximum strength and can withstand extreme weather events such as hurricanes.

PCL continues to use concrete JSI™ sensors to ensure the right strength is achieved for the infrastructure they are building.

Additionally, PCL uses its JSI™ sensors during the application process of high-performance coatings used in water and wastewater treatment plants. These coatings are applied inside the tanks and JSI™ sensors help ensure the humidity and temperatures are tracked so coatings are being applied under the right conditions.

“Not only are we building smarter and stronger, but we are also heeding the call to create infrastructure that can withstand the challenges of a rapidly changing climate,” said Ramos.

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