Les Terrasses de la Chaudière: Update on operational initiatives and health and safety (Winter 2021)

From: Public Services and Procurement Canada

Learn more about the various measures taken by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to protect the health and safety of federal employees, retailers and visitors to Les Terrasses de la Chaudière (LTDLC), particularly in the context of COVID-19. LTDLC is located in downtown Gatineau.

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Measures related to COVID-19

At PSPC, we are constantly and carefully monitoring developments related to COVID-19. With the endorsement of all parties involved, we have made the necessary changes to ensure that our buildings and facilities are safe, and we will continue to do so.

Cleaning and disinfection of offices and common areas

We have increased to twice daily the cleaning and disinfecting frequency of high-touch points, such as:

  • common areas
  • washrooms
  • meeting room furniture
  • doors
  • stairwells
  • elevators

We will continue with these heightened cleaning standards unless new guidance is provided by Health Canada.

We are also working closely with all departments and agencies to address any requests for enhanced cleaning based on cleaning and disinfection program requirements.

Physical distancing

Signage promoting physical distancing is now prominently displayed throughout the complex, with more than 1,400 signs installed to date.

To implement the physical distancing and traffic flow measures, PSPC building managers worked with:

  • the complex’s lead senior manager for emergencies and evacuations
  • the complex's emergency and evacuation team
  • the lead for occupational health and safety

Accessibility considerations

All re-occupancy measures take into account persons with disabilities. This includes:

  • height appropriate signage
  • floor markings that do not cause obstruction
  • elevator priority for those with physical or mobility impairments

Workspaces

Employers must now implement physical distancing measures in their workspaces, that is, their space plan for:

  • workstations
  • conference rooms
  • collaborative areas
  • kitchens
  • eating areas

Temporary signage

Temporary signage has already been installed in most office spaces and common areas. These signs will help employees and the public to navigate safely through federal facilities.

Ambassadors

Our Red Shirt Ambassadors (in partnership with Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions [BGIS]) are now onsite to:

  • answer your questions
  • ensure physical distancing
  • monitor traffic flow in common areas
  • support enhanced cleaning

This support is funded by PSPC for common areas. Tenant departments may request this service for their workspaces.

Personal hygiene

Wash your hands well

Frequent hand washing is essential for fighting infections, including COVID-19. Signs illustrating proper hand washing have been posted throughout the complex.

Disinfection stations

More than 100 hand sanitizing stations are now available, and they are refilled regularly.

Sanitizing wipes

Employers can also request sanitizing wipes for their workspaces.

A collaborative effort

Since COVID-19 was identified as a threat, PSPC has collaborated with:

  • Health Canada
  • Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
  • industry leaders

We are continuing to work together to implement the best measures to maintain a safe environment for those who continue to work on site. We are also preparing measures to ensure your health and safety in anticipation of your return to our workspaces.

Building operating systems

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has confirmed that COVID‑19 is not known to be spread through heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) or water systems. However, PHAC emphasizes the importance of ventilation, which promotes occupant wellness and avoids the accumulation of potentially infectious aerosols in airspaces, which could play a role in transmission.

We want to ensure your wellness in federal government buildings and facilities, including LTDLC. In April 2020, we implemented additional HVAC system measures. These measures include:

  • increasing outdoor airflow into buildings and workspaces
  • increasing operating hours of ventilation systems to ensure good airflow (the complex’s systems already operate on a 24/7 cycle)
  • ensuring maximum possible filtration and monitoring for appropriate temperature and humidity levels

We continue to follow research and public health guidance regarding virus transmission. To ensure these guidelines are applied, the following tools are available:

  • “Building Re-Occupancy Tracker” master compilation
  • comprehensive HVAC requirements checklist
  • national status report to track each HVAC aspect

This report provides a detailed overview of compliance at each facility and building, including LTDLC.

For information on measures related to building operating systems, refer to the Building management direction for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Air quality

We are taking proactive measures to address your concerns regarding air quality at LTDLC.

Certified industrial hygienist services

We have retained the services of a certified industrial hygienist, who has developed a tailor-made monitoring strategy to measure indoor air quality on floors where complaints have been reported.

The final report was submitted on October 8, 2020. It has been shared with the LTDLC client representatives, and a copy is also available on the GCpedia website (accessible only on the Government of Canada network).

The enhanced indoor air quality investigation identified areas on the perimeter walls where there may be potential mould or moisture-impacted building materials.

We have initiated a project to further examine and remove any areas of impacted building materials identified in the investigation. Thermographic scans were performed to identify any other areas of potential concern. A final report will be available in spring 2021.

Annual indoor air quality sampling program

We continue to conduct the annual indoor air quality sampling program. We sampled 100% of the complex in Fall 2020 to verify the baseline parameters. In these samples, we examined the presence or absence of airborne mould along the perimeter walls. The results were all within acceptable thresholds.

Window replacement

A total of 71 windows were previously identified as being problematic because of condensation or water infiltration and were replaced via a project completed in March 2021.

Other opportunities to improve air quality

We are also continuing to identify all opportunities to improve and optimize the air quality in the complex.

Thermal imaging of exterior windows

We used thermal imaging to assess all exterior windows to find and prevent potential water infiltration issues. We are currently working on an action plan to address problematic areas.

Installation of 15 air purifiers

A pilot project is planned for the installation of 15 air purifiers in targeted areas based on service requests.

A consultant was hired in late November 2020, and the installation schedule is currently being developed.

New building automation system

In an effort to modernize and improve the monitoring and control of the building's air systems, we commissioned a new building automation system.

Drinking water quality

One of our priorities is to provide high-quality drinking water for all our tenants. We monitor the water throughout the complex to ensure it is safe.

Protecting water systems during periods of reduced occupancy

Low occupancy rates in federal buildings can have adverse effects on drinking water systems. To reduce the risks associated with increased water stagnation, we have implemented a strict flushing and testing protocol for the water systems. The purpose of this protocol is to ensure compliance with Canadian drinking water guidelines.

Combined with the annual water sampling program in the complex, this protocol will continue as long as necessary while buildings are at reduced occupancy.

In April 2020, PSPC worked with Health Canada to develop a protocol for flushing water systems during low building occupancy. This protocol sets out requirements for water quality testing and consumption point flushing to reduce adverse impacts on water quality due to stagnation. The protocol was updated on June 26, 2020. It outlines the minimum requirements that must be met in all PSPC federal buildings. It has been adapted to address the conditions observed at LTDLC.

Water tests

Every year, we test at least 25% of the water consumption points in our buildings. These tests verify compliance with Health Canada's Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.

The fall 2020 results of the water quality testing program at the complex were similar to those obtained in previous years. The annual drinking water sampling was conducted at the complex from September 21 to 28, 2020. The results indicated that 93% of the points of consumption sampled met the federal and provincial guidelines.

At the time of this update, we have re-tested 4 of the 5 problematic points of consumption, and they now meet Health Canada's standards. The fifth consumption point is in an active construction zone. A new sampling will be performed at this point of consumption, and corrective measures will be implemented as required before the floor is put back into service.

Steps taken in the event of non-compliance with water quality standards

When water sampling results do not meet the standards in place, signage is posted. The signs inform users not to drink the water at these locations, and alternate sources of drinking water are suggested. The non-compliant consumption points are then thoroughly cleaned and flushed, and the aerators are replaced.

In addition, if the non-compliance involves lead exceedance, we install National Sanitation Foundation certified filters at the affected point of consumption to remove dissolved lead from the water. If bacteriological exceedance is reported, the faucet and adjacent faucets undergo super chlorination in the plumbing system. This is done to kill and eliminate any bacteria in the water line near the non-compliant point of consumption.

Following these measures, we take samples twice to confirm the quality of the drinking water. When resampling results meet the applicable guidelines, we remove the signage.

Water bottle refill stations

We have committed to funding and installing 107 water bottle refill stations with filtration capabilities by summer 2021. So far, we have installed 41 stations and the work is ongoing.

Accessibility and inclusion

We are committed to making LTDLC a model workplace. We are striving to lead by example by being leaders in accessibility and inclusion. We prioritize accessibility in the design of all of our offices and buildings. And we are working to break down stigmas and barriers to participation in society in various ways.

Accessibility through touchless technology

We have initiated a new Touchless Devices and Features Study to investigate the feasibility of implementing additional accessibility and antimicrobial elements at the complex. Our intent is to promote more technologies that will allow users to navigate through building areas with limited or no physical contact with various devices and surfaces. This should increase access while also reducing the potential for cross-contamination. The study will assess the feasibility of such items as:

  • automatic doors with motion detectors or optical sensors
  • touchless accessible door openers and door hardware that eliminate cross-contamination
  • elevator controls with touchless options or antimicrobial properties
  • escalator handrail sterilization to eliminate cross-contamination

GoHere program

We have launched the GoHere program in the commercial areas of the complex. This program is designed to help individuals with Crohn's or colitis find public washrooms via a smartphone app and the “GoHere” logo. This initiative demonstrates our support for the surrounding community.

Pest control

We are firmly committed to properly managing and eradicating any pests at the LTDLC complex. We have made a lot of progress in this regard. The current low occupancy has allowed us to make the necessary efforts to address this issue.

Bat control

We worked with bat experts to:

  • develop a plan to deter bats and prevent them from making the complex their home
  • install 9 bat houses in strategic locations on exterior walls to discourage bats from entering the building

In this study, all species present were recorded to identify the type of species using the site. We needed to learn more about them to learn how to better manage them throughout the different seasons.

The report was completed in March 2021, outlining the results and recommended mitigation strategies. The results of these activities will be used as examples for other federal buildings. As we shared during our town hall meetings, the building envelope replacement project remains the long-term fix for this issue.

Bed bug extermination

We also conducted full inspections for bed bugs throughout the complex. The complex is free of bed bugs.

We are working with the tenant departments to implement a heightened monitoring program at the complex. The program includes:

  • proactive use of dogs for inspections
  • installation of additional traps
  • additional monitoring

Tenant experience coordinator: Additional support

A tenant experience coordinator is now on site. Their role is to:

  • facilitate tracking of all your interactions with the National Service Call Centre
  • provide additional support for any building issues that come up
  • resolve issues proactively
  • identify opportunities for continuous improvement, such as initiatives for:
    • improved cleanliness
    • greater comfort
    • improved general environmental conditions

The tenant experience coordinator is already providing feedback and identifying opportunities for improvement directly to the property and facility management team.

Real Property Service Management portal

Boosting your satisfaction in a tangible and measurable way through enhanced service responsiveness is our goal! PSPC has been working hard to launch a new centralized service portal, called the Real Property Service Management (RPSM) portal. It will provide one-stop access for you to report building issues, and to raise and track requests.

Accessible through smart phones and other devices, the RPSM portal will leverage the ServiceNow application. The portal will be launched as a pilot project at LTDLC in January 2021.

Its primary benefits include:

  • enabling you to have more control over your service requests, as you will be able to enter them directly into the system without any intermediaries
  • sending you automated notifications and updates, providing you with real-time tracking as your building issues are being addressed 
  • facilitating your ability to report incidents from anywhere, anytime, even when you are away from the office

We believe this tool has the potential to boost your comfort and safety. Also, it will provide a direct way for you to communicate your accommodation issues.

Focus on the future

COVID-19 rapidly changed your professional lives and work environments. Our approach is to focus on the positives. We must use this situation to accelerate the evolution of the way we work in federal buildings, particularly at LTDLC.

We reiterate our commitment to work with you and listen to your needs in order to implement changes to improve LTDLC.

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