Engineering guidelines project passes first milestone

In this time of economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, many local government budgets are stretched more than ever, yet they must continue delivering essential services to their citizens. So it’s exciting that the Natural Asset Management Guidelines for Municipal Engineers project has now passed its first milestone (visit launch of project for more background).

The first of four Masters of Engineering Leadership in Urban Systems students, Parsa Shani, has completed a draft framework of the practice guidelines and has presented it to the advisory group members – comprising an influential group of experts in key asset management organizations – for their feedback. Shani’s work defined the role and scope of municipal engineers within the asset management world. He then interviewed engineers and documented their perspectives of what the barriers and opportunities to adopting natural asset management are and how a practice guideline could help alleviate those barriers.

“Engineers play a critical role in building and maintaining the infrastructure assets we rely on every day,” said Shani in a video interview.

“As such, it is vital that engineers are aware of why natural asset management is important, and how they can play their part in ensuring its adoption and integration into how we think about service delivery.”

The second intern has already started her work which will further validate Shani’s initial draft framework.

As stewards of the built environment in cities, the role of municipal engineers is becoming increasingly complex as they deal with urban growth. These engineers work with both built (e.g. concrete, steel) and natural or green infrastructure and ecosystems (e.g. wetlands, aquifers). Nature-based solutions such as natural assets are a cost-effective, sustainable, and climate-resilient solution and the results of this project will help municipal engineers integrate natural assets into their asset management programs using consistent standards, regardless of which province they live in.

Engineers and Geoscientists BC is currently working on a Professional Practice Guidelines document which will outline the roles and responsibilities of engineering and geoscience professionals working in the field of local government asset management. Engineers and Geoscientists BC will be using the MNAI guideline document, specific to natural assets, to inform their guidelines. Integrating natural asset management into this overall guidance will be instrumental in helping MNAI make natural asset management a mainstream practice across Canadian municipalities.

“The close relationship between Engineers and Geoscientists BC and MNAI and the hard work being done on the MNAI guidelines will allow us to provide practical guidance to municipal engineers on integrating natural asset management into their asset management processes,” said Stuart Nash, project manager for the Engineers and Geoscientists BC professional practice guidelines. “This is a great initiative that we think will improve the outcomes of asset management and the level of practice by Engineers and Geoscientists BC professionals.”

This Project is made possible with funding from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia and the Province of BC through the Ministry of Municipalities and Housing