Stay Connected: Special Feature Article (May 27)

The Accelerated Build Program, also referred to as Rapid Build, was piloted in 2020 shortly after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ontario government launched the program in partnership with Infrastructure Ontario and Trillium Health Partners. This alliance prioritized addressing the need for additional long-term care homes and set out to build several facilities in an accelerated timeline. In March of 2022, the first project using the accelerated build program was completed. The state-of-the-art Lakeridge Health long-term care home was finished, from beginning of procurement to end of construction, in under two years. The safe completion of this project in such a timely manner has been praised by those involved as well as throughout the industry.

The Accelerated Build Program utilizes rapid procurement processes and pre-modular construction to deliver projects years sooner than traditional methods of construction.

The program employs a two-stage procurement process to accelerate the projects timeline. In the first-stage a Request for Qualifications and Standing Offer (RFQSO) is issued to identify a list of firms who have the ability and experience to deliver a project rapidly. In the second-stage, shortlisted firms from the RFQSO are invited into a competitive negotiation process where the contract is awarded to a single firm. With only slight changes to procurement, the process is fast-tracked so construction can begin sooner.

Pre-modular construction is then utilized and plays a vital role in delivering these projects quicker than regular construction methods. Modular construction utilizes a method wherein sections of the building are constructed at an off-site location and subsequently transported and put together on-site. This allows for foundational work to be done on-site while simultaneously doing work on actual sections, or modules, of the building at an off-site location, thus cutting construction time by 30-50%. Furthermore, in-factory construction avoids delays that can be caused by adverse weather conditions. Not only does modular construction save time, it creates a safer environment for workers, as construction done indoors, in a controlled environment, reduces the risk of accidents. Once construction is complete, the benefits of modular building are still apparent. Since modules of the building are constructed in a factory-controlled environment, the potential for moisture to be trapped inside materials is greatly minimized, as such the air quality inside modular constructed buildings is of great quality. These buildings can also be disassembled, relocated, and refurbished for other uses, thus reducing waste and output of energy. Pre-modular construction, when done effectively, moves construction along faster, creates safer work environments, and is more eco-friendly.

With the completion of the Lakeridge Health facility, the rapid build program has gotten off to a great start; however, the project was no easy feat and took a great deal of effort, planning, and collaboration to complete. Dean Xuereb, a field operations manager at PCL Construction, noted that the biggest challenge in completing this project at such a rapid pace was scheduling the transportation of modules to the build site to be assembled. Dean believes that the completion of the facility using rapid build would not have been possible without committed trades that have a strong safety culture and deliver exceptional quality work.

The Lakeridge Health facility is just the first of numerous projects that have been planned or are already underway using the accelerated build program. Two more long-term care facilities in Mississauga and North Toronto are currently under construction, as well as two correctional facilities. The Ontario government has also just announced the construction of five schools that are to be built using rapid build models.

The accelerated build program presents an innovative method of completing construction projects faster. The quick completion of projects like long-term care homes and schools solve infrastructure shortages and present real solutions to real problems in a timely manner. It is no secret however, that the program places greater pressure and challenges on the contractors, architects, managers, and tradespeople that undertake the project. It requires a tremendous amount of planning, coordination, and hard work to complete a project utilizing an accelerated build model, but it has been proven that when done properly, the benefits are monumental.

For more information about the Accelerated Build Program or pre-modular construction click the following links.