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Constructing a network
Participants applaud opportunities at construction trade show

Terrence McEachern
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 3, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Even on the first day of the Construction North of 60 Conference Trade Show in Yellowknife, participants were already seeing the networking and information sharing benefits of the event.

NNSL photo/graphic

Steve Outlet, left, and Mike Stuhec of the Arctic Energy Alliance had an information booth set up at the inaugural Construction North of 60 Conference Trade Show Feb. 2, 2011 at the Yellowknife Fieldhouse. - Terrence McEachern/NNSL photo

"There are already "mini circles" of people who call each other for advice. The great thing about this (conference) is it gets those "mini circles" together to talk to each other," said Mike Stuhec, one of about 220 registered attendants and the residential energy management specialist with the Arctic Energy Alliance in Yellowknife.

The two-day conference, held for the first time, was divided into two sessions cold weather construction and challenges in logistics and operation. The event involved several panel discussions and key note speakers ranging from government to the construction and transportation industries.

Stuhec said he was looking forward to hearing Mike Holmes, a contractor and the host of the television shows Holmes on Homes and Holmes Inspection, make a presentation on Thursday.

"Hopefully he can inspire contractors to do better work (and build) more efficient houses," said Stuhec.

However, for the AEA, the importance of the conference is the opportunity to offer new advice to construction contractors on how to make homes and businesses more energy efficient and reduce heating costs. "We don't want to tell contractors how to do their jobs or anything. What we want to do is partner with them and see what we can do for them," said

The conference also provides a valuable opportunity for the AEA to gather information and get a better understanding on some of the barriers that contractors may face in building more energy efficient homes. "Is it lack of knowledge, is it lack of training, or high costs? And then we can plan our year and our programs around that," he said.

Bob Doherty, president of the NWT Construction Association, agreed that information sharing is an important aspect of the conference. However, for the construction industry, the emphasis is on the unique differences and challenges of building in the North compared to other parts of Canada. Some of the issues include permafrost and the logistics in terms of transportation in remote communities. "If you have to fly something in and you missed a bolt, it can cost you a lot of money," he said.

Along with the Arctic Energy Alliance, the conference was organized jointly by the Northwest Territories Association of Architects and the NWT Construction Association.

Phil Moon Son, executive director of the NWT Construction Association, said planning for the conference about a year ago. At a cost of $150,000, the event is "financially risky" for the organizers. "There's a lot of financial risks because the revenues may not offset the costs. So, we are ok, we are not doing bad ... but it's our first (conference) ... we're happy," he said.

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