NEW! APEGBC Professional Practice Guidelines: Developing Climate Change–Resilient Designs for Highway Infrastructure in British Columbia (Interim)

Greetings from British Columbia!

APEGBC is the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC, the regulatory body for engineers and geoscientists in the Province of BC. This post is about the release of interim APEGBC Professional Practice Guidelines. Hopefully this post on adapting to climate change is of interest to some. If so, read on.....

BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure's 2015 Technical-circular on climate change, extreme weather preparedness and resilience serves as a directive to consider climate change and extreme weather events in infrastructure project design under BCMoTI’s ownership/jurisdiction. It supports in developing strategies to help BC adapt to the effects of climate change and extreme weather events. The link to the T-circular is here:

In it, the engineering consultants are required to evaluate and consider vulnerability associated with future climate change and extreme weather events and to include appropriate adaptation measures when feasible, for the design life of the highway infrastructure. It also states that vulnerability assessment methodologies, practice guidance, as well as engineering project examples, can be obtained from other agencies such as professional associations. These APEGBC Professional Practice Guidelines - Developing Climate Change–Resilient Designs for Highway Infrastructure in BC provide that context. These interim guidelines apply only to BCMoTI projects:

The link to APEGBC's Climate Change Information Portal which can be used as a complementary resource is here:

These guidelines seek to establish the standard of practice required to be demonstrated by engineering consultants working on BC MoTI projects. Minimum level of effort required to consider climate change in design has been provided within these guidelines. Please forward it to your networks as appropriate.

Feedback received on these guidelines during the interim period (one year from today to 14 August 2018) will inform updates that are made. APEGBC will be touching base with members who are engaged in the provision of these services to obtain feedback to fine-tune these guidelines. Few issues that could be discussed in finalizing these guidelines are:

  1. incorporating climate change adaptation measures into planning cycles
  2. considering climate change in ongoing design projects and,
  3. staying up to date with the evolution of climate science (relates as well to continuing professional development and establishing professional qualifications).

Sidebar: There are a number of climate change related continuing professional development events scheduled (see for example:, some of which is available to members of the other professional associations, for example:  Here’s the link to the Fraser Basin Council’s webinar on Legal Implications of Climate Change for Professionals: Scheduled on the 28th September 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM PDT, this webinar from Zizzo Strategy aims to educate professionals on how climate change impacts their professional roles and responsibilities, encourage them to integrate climate change into their decision-making and empower them to make the case for climate change adaptation and mitigation.


Best Regards,

Harshan Radhakrishnan, P.Eng.,

Practice Advisor, APEGBC


Harshan Radhakrishnan's picture

Rick, It's complicated. The

Rick, It's complicated. The Ontario plan that you have show cased is several years old.

BC's Plan (see here: eventhough only a year old will no doubt be revisited because there's a new provincial government. BC was the first province to implement carbon pricing at the pump, but Ontario has cap and trade system, and as does Quebec. BC Building Code has been revised to allow for building progressively energy efficient buildings all the way to net-zero ready by 2032, but could better in the adaptation department. City of Toronto's zero emissions building framework has the climate change resiliency factored into it, but it has not been scaled province wide....

So, to answer your question, not sure if BC is ahead of rest of Canada, but the climate is good for energy efficiency and adaptation with the BC Greens holding the balance of power in the provincial government....

Harshan Radhakrishnan's picture



Here are your answers:

How does the APEGBC go about its decision making? Who gets to sit at that table and why? 

APEGBC is membership driven association that the child of the provincial government responsible for regulating the practice of engineering and geoscience in the Province. It has a Council made up of members voted into power by fellow members and other govt appointees. There's also committees and advisory bodies that report to Council. The APEGBC Climate change advisory group is one such advisory body establsihed by Council that gets engaged in supporting the development of professional development events, conference offerings and practice guidelines with funding and support of authorities having jurisdiction such as BC MoTI. Members and staff support such as myself get engaged in governmental discussions as stakeholders in the development of legislation that impacts the practice of the profession. In this case engineers now have to consider climate change and that's why APEGBC was consulted.

Are the guidelines obligatory or "good to haves"? Will they translate into (re)training programs for engineers and other professionals?

These guidelines represent the standard of practice and can be used to demonstrate that a professional has applied the appropriate level of effort in providing their services. The members do not have to follow this line by line, but if thier practice is ever called into question, these guidelines will be referenced to determine if professional due diligence considerations were met.

Are such guidelines becoming the norm in your sector or is BC a leader? 

Engineers Canada has a protocol for conducting vulnerability assessments (see These guidelines have been loosely modelled on the Engineers Canada's protocol and the US American Society of Civil Engineers' White Paper on Climate Change Adaptation. From a provincial professional association standpoint, there arent many "nuts and bolts" practice guidelines (as opposed to overarching guidance which can be difficult to implement). That's what makes these guidelines unique. Yes, there are lots of continuing professional development events planned as well.

Rick Shankman's picture

Harshan, does Ontario have

Harshan, does Ontario have you guys in BC beat?  I know your listed Plan in BC is limited to highway infrastructure, but the Ontario Plan below seems to include that in a way more comprehensiv

e effort.

Climate Ready: Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan 2011-2014

"This plan builds on the concrete action Ontario is taking to mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions....

While we take action, it is also necessary to recognize that change is already taking place. It is critical that governments at all levels begin to build climate change considerations into their policy decisions at the same time as we address mitigation. This is what our Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan is about....

We have identified actions across several ministries to help us meet our goals.

Some tangible examples of how we will get there include:

  • Minimizing damage by amending the Ontario Building Code and undertaking infrastructure vulnerability assessments to determine vulnerabilities due to the impacts of climate change and sharing the results with the broader public sector.
  • Increasing the climate resilience of our ecosystems by developing the Lake Simcoe Adaptation Strategy and creating a model to advance adaptation planning in other watersheds.
  • Supporting the development of risk-management tools to manage heat-related illnesses and working with Public Health Units to raise public awareness of health hazards, such as the increased risk of Lyme disease.
  • Obtaining a better understanding of the impacts of climate change by continuing to partner with experts to create climate projections throughout the province that will assist in decision-making.
  • Working with others through Ontario's Regional Adaptation Collaborative to improve decision-making on adaptation throughout the province.

The Government of Ontario will report annually to the public on its progress towards its long-term adaptation goals and its success in taking climate change impacts and adaptation into full consideration in the Province's policies and programs. These are the first steps in ensuring Ontario's preparedness for the impacts of climate change."

The Ontario approach appears to be solidly twofold and synergistic (note the added emphasis on GHG emissions reduction as well):

Where possible and appropriate, every policy and practice of government, the private sector and civil society should be reshaped and redesigned to achieve three objectives:

  1. The maximum reduction in GHG emissions
  2. The greatest possible reduction in vulnerability through adaptation and climate-resilient development, and
  3. The integration and harmonization of these first two objectives with each other and with other policies such that the joint benefits or co-benefits of actions are maximized.

                       - Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation 2009

Rajesh Kasturirangan's picture

Thanks for sharing, Harshan.

Thanks for sharing, Harshan. I would love it if you could address a couple of questions:

  1. How does the APEGBC go about its decision making? Who gets to sit at that table and why? 
  2. Are the guidelines obligatory or "good to haves"? Will they translate into (re)training programs for engineers and other professionals?
  3. Are such guidelines becoming the norm in your sector or is BC a leader? 

As someone who stays away from committees of all stripes, I always wonder how such decisions get made.