The beginning of the year is always a good time to take stock of what happened in the previous period and set new directions for the future. We caught up with Prism’s Team Leaders to learn more about projects and initiatives they are most proud of having accomplished last year, how new staff came to add to these successes, and what trends they foresee in the industry for 2023.

Adapting electrical systems to a new reality

Electrical Team Lead Casey Gaetz likes to describe his team as “playing the doctor’s role” when helping clients assess their electrical distribution systems to meet the needs of an ever-changing world. “This is what has been a growing focus for the last few years, and it’s what we plan to keep doing,” he says.

The Covid pandemic, the need to adapt buildings to mitigate the effects of climate change, new regulations and new technologies have created challenges that require a more comprehensive approach from our team, rather than just prescribing solutions. There is no area where this has been more interest to clients than having a Facility Condition Assessments (FCA) completed to assist in capital planning for the future.

“In a world that is constantly changing, electrical systems also need to adjust to this new reality. That’s why we are focusing on assessing each situation, analyzing it carefully, making recommendations, and elaborating on the appropriate designs to get it built to suit not just todays but also tomorrows requirements,” explains Casey.

Other areas with that we are experiencing growth with include electrical distribution upgrades to suit mechanical equipment switching from fossil fuel systems to electricity, thereby reducing our carbon footprint. Another focused area of work is the upgrading of electric services to suit the addition of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

“With all this growth in our work we have added more help to the team with three new staff to help our clients and our team to meet those challenges,” says Casey.

The path to net zero buildings

Last year the Energy Team remained committed to helping organizations maximize the efficiency of building systems that were performing poorly or in some cases not even performing at all.

“Many of these buildings had been visited over the years by other engineers that were unable to fix problems such as insufficient temperature levels, heat pump failure, or building control issues,” says Iram Green, P. Eng., Energy Team Leader. “I am very proud to see how our team approached these issues and managed to make the systems achieve their full potential,” he adds.

The key to success was not simply “checking the boxes” when approaching a problem. “There is knowledge and different considerations in every recommendation we make. You can’t just rely on one technology to get where you want to be. You must understand how that technology is going to operate within that specific situation,” explains Iram.

With six new staff onboarded this past year, the Energy Team is excited to enter 2023 with even more support to help organizations move towards net zero carbon buildings. “When you have so many things to do, you tend to do less. So, we can help organizations prioritize; helping them rely less and less on fossil fuels, improve efficiency, recover heat, and reduce their carbon emissions,” Iram says.  With trends towards increased funding for greenhouse gas pathways studies and modelling, we are anticipating even more interest in this type of work.

Unique expertise in sustainability and climate change

Many organizations still struggle when it comes to knowing what first step to take towards adopting sustainable practices and preparing for climate change impacts. This is one of the many ways that our Sustainability Team has been supporting clients – by assisting organizations in creating comprehensive sustainability and climate plans to respond to these challenges.

“We support clients with strategic planning, assessments, and research to help our clients identify what impact their organization is having on people and the planet and what can be done to mitigate them,” explains Sarah Smith, M. Urb., Sustainability Team Leader. Those impacts can range from carbon emissions from buildings and fleet to ground water impacts from landfill waste and to labor rights driven by sustainable procurement practices.

“We support these organizations by assessing their current practices, demystifying the sustainability landscape, and developing a clear vision and definition of sustainability for the organization. We then pull it all together in a practical plan that outlines the priorities and actions that our client needs to take to make progress on sustainability,” Sarah explains.

Prism’s 8-person Sustainability Team has a broad set of expertise to support our clients. We focus on energy, emissions, fleet, waste, and water and in each of these areas we provide strategic planning, coaching, assessment, program delivery and reporting.  We center our work on engaging stakeholders throughout any process we deliver. “Each of us is an expert in a different area, but we also draw on each other’ strengths to support our clients in meeting their climate and sustainability objectives,” Sarah says.

Synergy to meet future energy demands

In many of our buildings, mechanical systems account for the majority of building related greenhouse gas emissions. No wonder why many organizations are looking for alternative mechanical solutions to save energy and reduce carbon emissions. This has kept our Mechanical Team busy throughout last year, a trend that is expected to increase even more in 2023.

With the federal, provincial, and municipal governments jumping ahead on initiatives to reduce GHG emissions, the private sector is now taking steps to follow suit. As a result, there has been a growing demand for low-carbon electrification (LCE) projects.

“If in the past businesses were mostly interested in equipment replacements, now they are looking for opportunities for higher energy efficiency with full electrification projects”, explains Stephen Kooiman, P. Eng., M.A.Sc, Mechanical Team Leader. With more incentives available for companies to implement mechanical and electrical upgrades, this trend is expected to grow in the coming years.

To meet these demands, the Mechanical Team has grown with three new staff in the past year, and there will be even more synergy with other teams. “The scale of the projects is bigger, which requires a multidisciplinary approach. Having all expertise in-house is a great advantage. Our Mechanical Team is very collaborative, and they are used to working closely with the Electrical, Energy, and Sustainability Teams. Everyone is eager to learn, grow, and looking for ways to challenge themselves,” Stephen says.


Prism staff at Burnaby office. From left to right: Julianne Pickrell-Barr, Climate Action Specialist; Sarah Smith, Sustainability Team Leader; Nicole Huard, Sustainability and Climate Action Specialist; Taniell Hamilton, Sustainability and Engagement Specialist; and Parham Ighani, Mechanical Engineer in Training.