ACW Welcomes Five New Collaborating Researchers

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Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change: Canada in International Perspective (ACW) wishes to welcome five new collaborating researchers to the project.

 

 

Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change: Canada in International Perspective (ACW) is a Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Program-funded project, based at York University, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. The project investigates how Canada’s diverse workplaces can best adapt work to mitigate greenhouse gases, and the changes needed in law and policy, work design, and business models for industry and services, to assist the “greening” of workplaces and work.

New book! Climate Change and Gender in Rich Countries

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Climate Change and Gender in Rich Countries
Work, public policy and action

Edited by Marjorie Griffin Cohen

 

Griffen CohenClimate Change, Gender and Work in Rich Countries is unique in that it covers a wide range of issues dealing with work and climate change in wealthy industrialized countries. It shows how the gendered distinctions in both experiences of climate change and the ways that public policy deals with issues has been absent in policy discussions and why their inclusion matters.

 

Climate change is at the forefront of ideas about public policy, the economy and labour issues. However, the gendered dimensions of climate change and the public policy issues associated with it in wealthy nations are much less understood.

Climate Change and Gender in Rich Countries covers a wide range of issues dealing with work and working life. The book demonstrates the gendered distinctions in both experiences of climate change and the ways that public policy deals with it. The book draws on case studies from the UK, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Spain and the US to address key issues such as: how gendered distinctions affect the most vulnerable; paid and unpaid work; and activism on climate change. It is argued that including gender as part of the analysis will lead to more equitable and stronger societies as solutions to climate change advance.

This volume will be of great relevance to students, scholars, trade unionists and international organisations with an interest in climate change, gender, public policy and environmental studies.

Marjorie Griffin Cohen is an economist and a Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University, Canada.

 

Series: Routledge Studies in Climate, Work and Society

 

Learn more at Routledge.com

 

Evaluating the Impact of the BC Insulators’ Union Campaign to Promote Improved Mechanical Insulation Standards in BC’s Construction Industry

These papers are part of a series being produced for the ACW’s Built Environment Working Group—chaired by John Calvert —which is investigating the BC Insulators union’s efforts to promote a major climate initiative in the construction industry.

Buildings account for between 35% and 40% of GHG emissions and energy use (Stern 2006, IPCC 2014). Consequently, improving the energy efficiency of buildings is an important mechanism to address climate change. One key method to accomplish this objective is through establishing higher energy efficiency standards for mechanical insulation (e.g. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning – HVAC) systems.

The BC Insulators Local 118 represents unionized skilled insulators who have a Trades Qualification (TQ) and have completed a 4 year apprenticeship in HVAC systems and related building insulation methods. Over the years, the BC Insulators campaigned to encourage municipalities in BC to require higher insulation standards in their building requirements and procurement contract tenders.

The BC Insulator’s initiative is unique in Canada. It illustrates the efforts of a labour organization to promote a major climate initiative in the construction industry.

This project documents the Insulators’ campaign, including the union’s rationale for initiating it, describe its various components and evaluate the extent to which it has influenced standards of mechanical insulation in BC. The study explores the question of why the BC Insulators chose to align their campaign with climate change objectives and why they decided to target local governments as a key part of their strategy for generating broader industry support for the enhanced standards they favoured.

 

The Union as Climate Change Advocate: the BC Insulator’s Campaign to “Green” the Culture of the Building Industry in British Columbia
April 2016
By John Calvert and Corrine Tallon, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Download the full report (PDF)

 

Promoting Climate Literacy in British Columbia’s Apprenticeship System: Evaluating One Union’s Efforts to Overcome Attitudinal Barriers to Low Carbon Construction
April 2017
By Corinne Tallon and John Calvert, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University SFU)

Download the full report (PDF)

Promoting Climate Literacy in British Columbia’s Apprenticeship System: Evaluating One Union’s Efforts to Overcome Attitudinal Barriers to Low Carbon Construction

By Corinne Tallon and John Calvert

Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Prepared for the International Labour Process Conference (ILPC), Sheffield, United Kingdom, April 4 – 6, 2017

 

Abstract

 

Buildings account for a significant component of total energy consumption and are thus a critical target in lowering society’s carbon footprint and mitigating climate change. While there has been considerable progress in developing new technologies, materials and building designs to achieve this goal, one key element of making buildings more energy efficient is too often overlooked: the competency and commitment of the workforce responsible for the building construction. There is considerable evidence of a significant gap between the needed skill sets for low carbon construction and the capacity of the training and apprenticeship systems to deliver appropriate skills – including climate literacy – to the construction workforce, both in Canada and internationally. Furthermore, an apparent gap exists in terms of interest and investment on the part of government, employers, and union leaders within the industry to encourage this type of training and, more importantly, implementation of this training on the work site.

This research paper examines the efforts of one building trades union to promote climate literacy within British Columbia (BC) via the classroom. The BC Insulators union has responsibility for training all mechanical insulation (MI) trades’ workers in the province under an agreement with the BC government. It delivers the classroom training under contract with the province’s largest public training college, the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). As part of its commitment to address sustainability and green construction practices within the industry, the union has introduced a ‘Green Awareness’ course to their apprenticeship program curriculum. The two-module course was introduced in 2011 and is taught over the course of the first two years of the four-year program.

After conducting a review of the ‘Green Awareness’ course content, the research team performed qualitative interviews with a cohort of 2nd and 4th year apprentices. The former cohort had, at the time of the interviews, received both modules of the new course. The fourth-year cohort on the other hand had completed most of their classroom training before the module had been fully refined. They therefore had not received the formal ‘Green Awareness’ training. The purpose of this research was to determine whether exposure to the new ‘Green Awareness’ course content influenced the apprentices’ views on climate change, and whether they identified links between climate change, their performance as insulators, and the performance of the construction industry more broadly.

The interviews identified significant differences in the two cohorts’ levels of understanding of the links between the construction industry, MI, and climate change. Degree of understanding and interest also varied depending on the sector in which the apprentice had employment experience and the specific types of projects on which they had worked. Significantly, apprentices identified a number of barriers to their ability to implement best practices and low carbon construction, including: lack of co-ordination between insulators and other trades; the absence of stringent inspection of finished work; pressure to complete tasks at the expense of quality work; and a more general pattern of industry indifference to implementing best practices and low carbon construction. These findings indicate the need for further refinements in the content and delivery of the ‘Green Awareness’ course material. The authors conclude that incorporating climate change-related course content into the training process is an important step in fostering climate literacy within the industry and should be encouraged in other trades. However, its degree of impact will be limited unless more sweeping changes are made to the organization and culture of the construction industry itself.

 

Download the full report (PDF)

 

The Union as Climate Change Advocate: the BC Insulator’s Campaign to “Green” the Culture of the Building Industry in British Columbia

By John Calvert and Corrine Tallon, Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Prepared for the International Labour Process Conference (ILPC) Berlin, Germany, April 2016

Abstract:

This paper examines the efforts of one Canadian building trades’ union, the BC Insulators, to influence the culture and climate change policies of the construction industry in British Columbia. The union’s members install and inspect mechanical insulation (MI) on heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in commercial and industrial buildings. Its climate advocacy was prompted by the failure of the province’s construction industry to implement appropriate quality standards due to its culture of low bid construction practices and its unwillingness to train and employ qualified insulation workers. This failure was compounded by the reluctance of government to impose and enforce stringent building codes to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings. Recognizing the significant contribution that MI can make to reducing energy use and GHG emissions, the union embarked on a major campaign to promote the climate benefits of MI. It funded independent, technical research papers, commissioned best practice manuals with detailed guidelines on installing MI and initiated an extensive and carefully organized public education campaign to pressure industry and government to raise standards. It approached municipalities, building contractors, government officials, property developers, industry professionals and trade organizations to alert them to the importance of reducing the energy footprint of buildings. It pressured governments to raise MI standards in procurement of new and refurbished buildings and implement tougher requirements in their building codes. And it introduced climate change literacy into the curriculum of the apprenticeship system it oversees. This paper documents the union’s comprehensive campaign as an illustration of the contribution labour can make to addressing the critical challenge of global warming.

 

Download the full report (PDF)

 

ACW Baseline Report – Built Environment

By John Calvert

Associate Professor
Faculty of Health Sciences
Simon Fraser University, Canada

 

The overall aim of the Built Environment Working Group is to research the labour and labour process implications of transitioning to a low carbon, energy efficient building industry.

This Baseline Report has the following goals:

  1. To establish the current state of knowledge about the contribution of the workforce to ‘greening’ the construction industry;
  2. To assess the potential of labour to shape the industry’s carbon footprint.
  3. To identify barriers to the successful participation of the workforce in developing pathways to low carbon construction and develop strategies to circumvent these barriers.
  4. To identify needed modifications to employment, employment conditions, working practices and the overall organization of construction work that will improve the capacity of the workforce to implement low carbon construction (effective health and safety provisions, integrated team‐based work practices, improved vocational education and training (VET), union representation and a greater say for the workforce in shaping the industry’s future).
  5. To examine the current and potential role of unions and professional organizations in advancing this process.
  6. To analyze the workforce implications of widely used policy tools, such as energy efficiency targets, building codes and contract procurement requirements in facilitating the transition to low carbon construction.
  7. To carry out research on the role of workers and the organizations that represent them in implementing specific, innovative low carbon projects which can serve as models for wider application in the building industry.

 

Download the full report (PDF)

 

 

Constructing sustainable buildings in a warming world

 

An interview with ACW participating researcher, John Calvert
Originally published by Simon Fraser University

Did you know buildings account for almost 40 per cent of Canada’s final energy consumption and roughly 20 per cent of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions?

SFU health sciences associate professor John Calvert recently argued the need for low-carbon practices in construction in one of two chapters he wrote for Work in a Warming World, a book published in 2015.

In his chapter “Construction and Climate Change,” he writes, “The main challenge the construction-industry faces is the need for much greater investment in training the workforce in low-carbon building techniques. This needs to be supplemented by tougher building regulations and effective enforcement of building codes to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings.”

Read more

 

New seven-year partnership to find ways to improve and adapt the workplace

 

By Shawn Connor, The Vancouver Sun

There has been a lot of work and research focused on the science of climate change. But there hasn’t been much focus on the way in which workers and workplaces will have to change to mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change, John Calvert says.

The Simon Fraser University health sciences associate professor is part of a major new seven-year research partnership that will identify steps that can be taken to reduce the carbon-footprint in a number of areas of the economy, with a focus on the workplace and workers.

The national project is called Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change: Canada in International Perspective. The York University-led partnership will receive $2.5 million in funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and more than $2.2 million in matching funding and contributions from partnering organizations. Partners include labour unions and business organizations, government and public sector organizations, think tanks, universities and environmental groups.

Read more