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Fort St John Hospital wins award for Acciona


The 237 million Canadian dollar Hospital and Residential Care Facility wins prestigious Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) award for exacting construction standards in the challenging environment and climate of northern British Columbia.

ACCIONA, a global leader in renewable energy, infrastructure and water services, and consortium partner Stuart Olson, have won a prestigious construction award for their Fort St. John Hospital and Residential Care Facility in northern British Columbia.

The $237 million hospital is one of the largest social infrastructure projects in northern Canada. The Acciona Infrastructure/Stuart Olson team had to overcome numerous challenges - including the project’s remote location and sub-zero temperatures in winter - to deliver the hospital on time and to budget. Ground was broken at the 40-acre site in the summer of 2009. Completion was in May 2012

The P3 project involved the design and construction and a 30-year Operation and Maintenance concession for a 55-bed hospital with a residential annexe for seniors with an additional 123 beds. The integrated health care centre was built to ’LEED Gold’ standards - certifying compliance with sustainability and environmental efficiency criteria drawn up by the Canadian Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Fort St John Hospital was awarded this year’s Silver Award in the General Contractor Over $40 Million category by the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) for setting a high bar, not only as one of Northern Canada’s largest regional hospitals, but for also achieving LEED Gold certification. The hospital’s sustainable features include stormwater retention, surface water management, use of natural light, high-energy efficiency, reduction of volatile organic compounds and noise reduction acoustics.

Working in British Columbia’s remote northeast for three years brought two specific challenges for the Acciona/ Stuart Olson team. With temperatures dropping to -30°C in the winter, work had to be phased in over the seasons. During the summer of 2009, foundation work was done, but because the steel hadn’t arrived, the foundation was covered with heat radiant pipes to stop frost heaves and protect the foundation. Frost in that part of the country can reach six feet deep. The temperature was kept to 1°C for several months. Once the main structure was in place, the hospital was “bubble-wrapped” so that work could continue in its interior during the freezing winter months.

The second challenge was finding qualified workers for the project, as Fort St. John, 1,200km from Vancouver, is a mining and oil and gas centre, where construction and trade skills are different from those required to build hospitals. Some of the skilled trade workers were hired from as far away as Edmonton, capital of Alberta. The cost to fly workers in and out was high - and over two million miles were clocked on Air Canada. Most employees worked 10 days, followed by four days off.

Medical staff and other user groups had a lot of input into what they wanted from their new facility, which includes three operating rooms, an Intensive Care Unit, a birthing centre, an emergency room and an endoscopy suite.

To keep work on track, a really intense quality control system was put in place and the safety crew was trained in infection control. Cleanliness was paramount. Dust levels were kept far below usual conditions and no food was allowed on site.

ACCIONA/ Stuart Olson also instituted an apprenticeship programme, hiring trades students from the local Northern Lights College. A school art programme encouraged students to draw the new hospital and their artwork was printed on fine netting that was wrapped around the worksite fence. The community strongly backed the project and was fully engaged during the three-year build-out.

Watch Fort St John Hospital video for more information:


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