Involvement leads to opportunity, says Construction Engineering Technician grad Tyler Fenton

The construction industry is a consumer of resources and raw materials and a contributor to solid waste, but Fleming Construction Engineering Technician graduate Tyler Fenton is hoping to improve the environmental impact of construction with sustainability.

“Sustainability is not the silver bullet, but it’s a powerful tool to drive change for the better,” said Tyler. “Through pursuing higher levels of sustainability, we can lower the waste produced by construction activities, make the buildings we build healthier for occupants, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the energy required to run these buildings and create more affordable living for people moving into urban areas.”

As a Sustainable Buildings Solutions Coordinator, LEED Green Associate at EllisDon Corporation, Tyler is responsible for ensuring that projects achieve different levels of sustainability certification: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, Toronto Green Standard certification, or both. Tyler’s department services EllisDon projects across Canada, including hospitals, commercial towers, schools, train stations and institutional buildings.

“It’s very exciting to be a part of such a wide variety of projects that serve many different functions in their communities, but that are all striving for excellence in design, construction and operation,” said Tyler.

Fleming education and network leads Tyler to success

Tyler worked on-campus at the Office of Sustainability while attending Fleming College and one of his responsibilities was to book guest speakers to talk to Trades students about sustainability in the construction industry.

One of his speaking events featured the Director and Program Manager from the Sustainable Building Solutions department at EllisDon and, through this experience, Tyler started growing a network at his dream place of employment.

When he graduated, Tyler emailed the CEO of EllisDon seeking a job opportunity (scroll to “Proud Fleming College graduate” for how they met). Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as Tyler had hoped…

“Because I did not have industry experience, they couldn’t justify hiring me at the time,” he said. “They told me to go get some experience and re-apply in the future.”

So, he did.

Tyler worked as a Construction Coordinator at Dufferin Construction for one year to get the experience he needed. And when he re-applied to EllisDon, he got the dream job this time.

Confidence in the KUBE is why Tyler chose Fleming

Tyler didn’t always dream of working in construction. With a resume ranging from wildland firefighter to tree planter, bartender to labourer, and even a gig in the jewelry industry, Tyler took his time finding the right career fit.

When he decided on construction and engineering, Tyler chose Fleming because the program introduces students to various trades to give them an understanding of the different disciplines they’ll encounter on job sites.

“I was very impressed with the D-Wing in particular,” he said. “In no other educational facility I’d visited had I seen anything like the KUBE. This made me confident that I would be in a good learning environment.”

Adding, “I would absolutely recommend that prospective students go and visit the campus, go to the Open House, because it will give you a perspective on where you’ll be learning and if it’s what you’re looking for.”

Proud Fleming College graduate

“I’m very happy with my Fleming experience and I’m proud to tell people that’s where I went to college,” he said. “Overall, you’ve got a beautiful, newly renovated, top-of-the-line building to learn in, instructors who are passionate and have real world experience, and as many opportunities to learn or get involved as you can handle.”

Now that Tyler has graduated from Fleming, his advice to students is to get involved.

“The more you get involved, the more opportunity you’re going to have when you graduate,” said the Class of 2018 graduate.

While at Fleming, Tyler volunteered with Enactus Fleming, worked at the Office of Sustainability, and collaborated with his program coordinator to research and test permeable pavement.

The permeable pavement project led Tyler to representing Fleming College, the Office of Sustainability and FastStart at the 2017 OCE Discovery event, where he met EllisDon CEO Geoff Smith (who Tyler emailed for an interview when he graduated).

“In my experience, the connections I made through my student worker position in the Office of Sustainability opened the door to my dream job,” he said. “And the skills and knowledge I gained from the program and from the instructors I got to know allowed me to land the job. It wouldn’t have happened that way if I hadn’t gotten involved in the things that I did.”

Construction Engineering Technician students break new ground on sustainability

Two Construction Engineering Technician (CET) students are breaking new ground on sustainability efforts at Fleming College.

Tyler Fenton and Andrew Lloyd were awarded applied projects funding from the Office of Sustainability and FastStart Fleming to further their research on ways to make Fleming campuses more sustainable. Tyler is researching sustainable permeable pavement, while Andrew is researching integration of the Tesla Powerwall and Tesla Roof into the Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre.

“The Applied Projects Funding Program by the Office of Sustainability is intended to provide experiential learning for students in creating a more sustainable post-secondary institution and support Fleming’s commitment towards achieving net zero institutions,” said Trish O’Connor, Director of the Office of Sustainability. “I’m looking forward to watching their research develop.”

Tyler Fenton
Tyler Fenton, Construction Engineering Technician student, working on the permeable pavement at GHD Canada

With the support and direct supervision of CET program coordinator Dr. Adel A. Zadeh, Tyler is researching and testing permeable pavement, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of current pavement materials on sidewalks, bicycle paths, driveways, parking lots, and low traffic areas. Tyler received $500 from the Office of Sustainability applied projects fund to work on this project.

“Currently when it rains, water bounces off the pavement and goes into the storm system, which costs the city money to treat,” said Tyler. “With permeable pavement, it would allow water to go through it and into the ground.”

Tyler said permeable pavement would be useful outside of the college, as well. He provided the example of a subdivision built around a fountain, which serves the purpose of collecting excess water to avoid flooding. With permeable pavement, the need for a fountain would be obsolete and therefore more land would be available to build more homes.

Tyler (right) with Adam Bonner (left, front) and Shaun Shepherd working at GHD Canada.

Tyler has been working on and testing the permeable pavement at GHD Canada in Peterborough. On Wednesday, April 5, Tyler worked with GHD Senior Technicians Adam Bonner and Shaun Shepherd (Resources Drilling and Blasting, Class of 2005, and Geological Technician, Class of 2007) to mix, cast, and compact the pavement. He will later test porosity (void content), density, infiltration rate (permeability) and mechanical properties, including compression and tensile strength.

“This applied project allows you to see the practical way of the materials through testing and seeing how it’s applicable for design. There are lots of environmental benefits, and students are learning about sustainability and caring about the construction materials they are using,” said program coordinator Adel. “It’s also an opportunity to work on challenges, because everything is not always A to B and we don’t always know the outcome; for example, we couldn’t use vibration so we used other equipment to compact the samples. Everything is not always what you see in a textbook.”

Adel said he is thankful for the support and resources GHD Canada is providing for this project, which includes a concrete mixer, their facility and technicians.

Joel Kimmitt, Principal Engineer at GHD Canada and Fleming Earth Resources Technician Program Advisory Committee member, said he is very interested in helping Tyler and learning more about the CET program at Fleming.

“We’ve had a longstanding connection with the college and many of our employees are Fleming grads from Frost Campus,” said Joel. “I’m interested in this program because it’s more on the civil engineering side, which could potentially yield employees for the company.”

Joel is also interested in the results of Tyler’s research. “It’s interesting because this technology is not widely used in Canada, so we don’t have a lot of experience with it either.”

Adel would like to bring phase 2 of the project to Fleming’s Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment at Frost Campus, if he receives more funding.  Adel would like to expand this research in order to investigate the water filtration of these paving materials as a function of different mix compositions used, applying microstructural analysis of hydration and carbonation products between different cementitious materials and permeable pavement capability to help absorb heavy metals and chemicals.

Tyler’s Construction Engineering Technician classmate Andrew Lloyd is researching sustainable initiatives as well, thanks to funding he received from FastStart Fleming.

Andrew (right)
Andrew Lloyd (right) at the Green Your Campus conference

Andrew earned 2nd Place in the Green Your Campus conference co-hosted by Fleming’s Office of Sustainability, FastStart and the Trent Green Team, on March 11, 2017, receiving a $1, 000 prize to conduct feasibility research on a Tesla Powerwall at Sutherland Campus. Andrew was one of 10 Fleming groups who presented at the conference, which also featured 25 groups from Trent University. Projects were judged by Fleming and Trent faculty based on presentation and potential effect on meeting the college’s sustainability plan goals.

For his project, Andrew proposed integrating the Tesla Powerwall and Tesla Roof (or equivalent solar panels) into the Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre at Sutherland Campus. In addition to helping power the Fleming Kube during peak consumption times, Andrew proposed the Powerwall and Roof also be used to help train students in electrical trades.

“The city wants to be net zero emissions by 2050, so there is a demand on businesses to be net zero,” said Andrew. “If you can teach the trades students that before they go into the workforce, it will make them more valuable when they graduate.”

Andrew is currently working with Adel and Javier Bravo, Fleming College Entrepreneurship Liaison, to research the feasibility of this within Fleming College. His goal is to know whether implementation is possible by December 2017.

Both Andrew and Tyler are working towards their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications, and Andrew plans to take the Project Management graduate certificate at Fleming College as well. Both students plan to combine their construction engineering careers with their interest in sustainability to build a brighter future.