Project Profile: Surrey Court House

Across the country, Modern Niagara’s work is recognized as some of the most sustainable, innovative, and safe buildings in Canada. In British Columbia, our teams have worked to build the buildings – including hospitals, transportation infrastructure, office buildings, and more – that impact British Columbians. We’re proud of this work, and even prouder when it’s recognized for the work our teams put into it. Recently, The Surrey Court House was recognized by the Vancouver Regional Construction Associationwinning a Silver Award of Excellence as a mechanical contractor! 

The Surrey Court House is both the largest and busiest courthouse in British Columbia. As the general contractor on the Surrey Provincial Court Mechanical and Electrical Systems Renewal Project, Modern Niagara’s Vancouver office was tasked with leading a mechanical and electrical systems upgrade on the project building. The objectives of this project included renewing the end-of-life mechanical and electrical systems, bringing the mechanical and electrical systems to current codes and standards, and enhancing systems operation toward net-zero GHG emission.

Surrey Court House

Entrance of the Surrey Court House.

Throughout the project, our teams were faced with many challenges which they had to overcome and work around. For example, the project’s 12-month schedule proved challenging, with limited windows of opportunity to retrofit the building’s Heating and Cooling systems, as well as the roofing scope. Scheduling was crucially important for the Vancouver team in order to keep crews working productively. 

Also, the client required a full mechanical and electrical systems upgrade while maintaining full functionality and zero disruption to the tenant operations. As such, our team’s work was scheduled entirely during the evenings and on weekends​ to prevent disruption to the public court’s services. The installation of every transformer and panel had to be completed in one shift, as the courthouse couldn’t suffer any outages. However, our teams caused zero disruptions to the tenants and avoided any potential no ‘stop work’ orders​ as such. 

Similarly, working in an active courthouse during a pandemic​ proved to be an obstacle – it wasn’t possible for multiple trades to work in an area simultaneously, in order to maintain social distancing ​standards and thus a safe and healthy environment for the staff and public during construction. In addition to site regulations, the project schedule was impacted by COVID-related equipment delays, as our teams sourced the two ASHPs from Italy. 

In response to the regulations, Modern Niagara and our subcontractors worked in unison to allow each trade to complete their installation in a safe manner to avoid as much contact as possible and any COVID-19 concerns. The teams operating at the courthouse developed extensive work sequencing plans to ensure the trades were spread out on site and maintain physical distancing, as well as flexible re-planning to mitigate any COVID-related delays. Although there was a 10-week delay for the AHSPs, Modern Niagara and our partners remained ahead of the tight schedule by re-sequencing the works on site. Collaboration was a major component of the project; our teams in Vancouver had daily toolbox meetings, weekly site meetings, bi-weekly meetings with the province and prime consultant, and monthly meetings with tenants and stakeholders. 

At the end of the project, Modern Niagara, with the support of our subcontractors, completed our work at the Surrey Court House three weeks ahead of schedule, despite all the challenges facing our teams. The electrical work on the project totaled around 4800 manhours and our work at the public court will ultimately save taxpayers $150,000 on electrical works. In keeping with our reputation as one of Canada’s safest employers, Modern Niagara recorded no first aid accidents or incidents on the site, nor any lost time due to safety incidents.  

By the end of the project, our team: 

  • Retrofitted nine mechanical rooms with all associated piping, ductwork, electrical, controls. 
  • Replaced 12 AHUs, two Boilers with chimney, all fans (50+), all VAVs (70+), all FCUs (nine), all pumps (14), HWTs​.
  • Added two new 150-ton air source heat pumps (ASHP) into the facility. 
  • Completed a full electrical system upgrade, including main distribution, MCCs transformers, panels, and lights. 
  • Added new structural steel platform with new screen on the roof and associated roofing scope.
  • Made architectural replacements related to our mechanical and electrical retrofit​. 

Other notable accomplishments from the project include panel upgrades, replacing exit signs and exterior lighting replaced with lower power consumption LED lighting, replacing transformers, and digital information metering installed for nine monitoring panels​ in the mechanical and electrical room. 

The Courthouse has the latest heat pump technology available on the market, which is capable of producing chilled water and hot water, independently or simultaneously, in the most versatile and efficient way possible. The heat pump can also operate as a primary heating source for the building and ventilation heating application when temperatures are as low as -15°C, making it an ideal fit for the outdoor conditions in the Lower Mainland, as well as greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions​ at the courthouse. Our teams also installed both ASHP-1 and ASHP-2 conduit and cable in the facility, which is more efficient heating and cooling sources than what was previously in place in the facility.

An air handling unit (AHU) being lifted to the roof of the Surrey Court House

An air handling unit (AHU) being lifted to the roof of the Surrey Court House

In terms of client satisfaction, the Surrey Courthouse is one of the most successful local projects for Modern Niagara’s Vancouver office, as reflected by the positive reviews from the client as well as our partners on this project. 

“Arseniy Pentsak and the Modern Niagara Vancouver project team had worked professionally and proactively with the Client (Ministry of Citizen’ Service), the stakeholders (Province of BC, Surrey Courthouse, CBRE), and the design team (Williams Engineering Canada and subconsultants) in delivering this complex and challenging project successfully,” said Jimmy Ng, Practice Leader at Williams Engineering. 

“The work ethic of the company, especially the Site Superintendent, Paul Coombs was exceptional,” said Laura Stanton, Senior Manager at Surrey Provincial Court. “The project dealt with many of our previous and existing issues with noticeable improvements, which we haven’t seen over the past few years.” 

Interested in joining the team that’s building for the life of our community in British Columbia? We’re always looking for skilled tradespeople to bring their talent and expertise to a number of projects – click here for more information!