Vice President, Commercial and Civil, Ontario Region, Graham Construction And Engineering Inc.

Chris Webber

Mediaplanet: In terms of green building, what do you think has been the biggest innovation in recent years?

Chris Webber: Recent innovations in materials technologies, and the accelerated rate of their development and implementation have made a tremendous impact upon the design and construction industry. This includes incorporating recycled content (that were previously discarded into landfills), development of super high strength and lightweight materials, and smart technologies for energy management.

MP: In what construction sectors do you see the most potential for growth?

CW: In Ontario, it appears there will be steady or slowing growth in the residential and social infrastructure markets; however, this should be more than offset by expanding growth in the civil infrastructure and transportation markets. This is especially significant in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) area as there finally appears to be sufficient political will to proceed with advancing major rapid transit projects. In addition, civil infrastructure is rapidly aging and deteriorating in major cities and will need significant investment to improve and maintain service — let alone meet increasing demand and future development in older sections of urban centres.

MP: What is the number one reason Canadian youth should consider a career in the construction industry?

CW: In a word: opportunity. Opportunity created through diverse job categories, types of construction, size of projects, operating locations, and the great people you'll work with. There is such a variety of professional and trade positions within the construction industry, so no matter what your interest and expertise, there is a career path for you. Very few industries offer this wide array of career opportunities.

MP: Construction is booming across Canada, but which region and sectors do you believe have the most growth potential?

CW: In the long term, the resource sectors in Alberta and Saskatchewan will be the areas of the most potential growth. Unfortunately these markets always have their cycles, and the current drop in oil pricing will affect growth in the short term. Ontario’s manufacturing economy should start to improve as the American economy continues to recover, which may improve the private sector somewhat, but the improvement will likely be slightly modest and occur over a number of years.

MP: What will be the most important transformation within construction over the next 5-10 years?

CW: The continued advancement of modularized and prefabricated construction techniques will change how we build and shorten traditional construction timelines. Projects are prefabricating wall systems, mechanical systems, and in some cases entire rooms. Advancing the extent of prefabrication in buildings shortens timelines, which results in lower financing costs. It also improves quality, as more of the construction will be built in ideal conditions — in locations such as a shop or factory. 3D Building information modeling (BIM) is providing the ability to plan and design in detail to affect some of these efficiencies. These efficiencies can be best realized when the entire design, construction, and owner team work in concert, such as the innovative Integrated Project Delivery Model (IPD)

MP: How has green construction evolved over the recent decade and where do you see it moving in the future?

CW: From a construction perspective, over the recent decade Graham has been implementing LEAN construction principles that reduce on-site construction waste; streamline.


General Manager, Walsh Canada

Craig Lesurf

Mediaplanet: In terms of green building, what do you think has been the biggest innovation in recent years?

Craig Lesurf: In recent years there has been a monumental shift in stakeholders’ willingness to adopt a greener and more ecologically sustainable approach on building projects. With the confluence of emerging technologies such as less expensive energy monitoring, more efficient lighting such as LED, solar panels and heat recovery, lower energy consumption is top of mind for facility owners. There have also been great strides in the manufacturing of sustainable products such as thermo-chromic glass, low flow plumbing fixtures, and recycled content that are making green products a part of everyday choices.

MP: In what construction sectors do you see the most potential for growth?

CL: One sector that will see substantial growth is transit, particularly in Ontario where we are currently facing a major transit deficit. All levels of government have acknowledged the need for transit by committing billions towards expansion and upgrades to existing infrastructure. In addition, there is substantial public pressure to build transit, so there will be an appetite for allocating public funds to this sector for many years to come. This, in turn, will spur on growth in the high-rise residential and ICI sectors as part of the broader Transit-Oriented Design.

MP: What is the number one reason Canadian youth should consider a career in the construction industry?

CL: The main reason for young Canadians to consider a career in the construction industry is the sheer love for building. Whether you are working in management or in the field, the experience of collaborating with a team of multidisciplinary individuals to solve the many challenges encountered towards achieving a common goal is incredibly rewarding. Seeing the ultimate benefit that the end result provides for society — whether a hospital or any other building — makes it a very fulfilling career. Given the aging workforce and the gaps that will be created as workers retire, this creates a very strong market for new entries into the field and allows for rapid advancement.

MP: Construction is booming across Canada, but which region and sectors do you believe have the most growth potential?

CL: Western Canada is booming and is positioned to continue growing at an above-average pace. Resource-rich provinces such as Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia are leading the way despite the global economy still recovering from the great recession. As the economy starts turning around and global demand for resources increases, there will be several direct and indirect impacts on the infrastructure needs for those provinces, not only related to the resource industries, but their general populations as well. Ontario is still a significant driver of the Canadian economy, and as immigration patterns continue to place more people in the province, it will remain a strong marketplace.

MP: What will be the most important transformation within construction over the next 5-10 years?

CL: One of the most important transformations that we are seeing is the shift towards a fully digital environment and the associated use of metadata for the management and analysis of the building process. With the advent of many asset management based projects, where the contractor can influence the lifecycle and operations of the facility, a more integrated, multidisciplinary team approach to market is best-value solution.

MP: How has green construction evolved over the recent decade and where do you see it moving in the future?

CL: The industry is doing more than ever to maintain a sustainable approach to construction. On site, we are conscious of storm water runoff and airborne contaminants. We now have a much higher rate of construction waste being diverted from landfills, and water use has been reduced in many of our construction processes. Protecting materials such as drywall and ductwork from potentially hazardous conditions helps improve indoor air quality during construction.


President, Westridge Construction

George Elsaad

Mediaplanet: In terms of green building, what do you think has been the biggest innovation in recent years?

George Elsaad: A multitude of innovations continue to grow the green building sector. Two technologies at the forefront of the industry include insulated concrete forms and structural insulated panels. They reduce waste in the building process and have much higher insulation values than traditional building methods. Combined, they reduce energy consumption and minimize waste.

MP: In what construction sectors do you see the most potential for growth?

GE: We are seeing consistent growth in our commercial construction. Consequently, this leads to a need for greater infrastructure. Together, they help maintain the lifeline of our economy. Additionally, we continue to see growth in our residential sector. Expansion of the GTA is huge, with concentrated construction in the downtown core as well.

MP: What is the number one reason Canadian youth should consider a career in the construction industry?

GE: Opportunity. Not many careers offer what the construction industry is able to. Being in the construction industry is something be proud of. It gives potential for very lucrative financial gain, to learn while you work, and to take your skillset to any destination around the world. Skilled workers will always be in demand.