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Trees suffer under ice, point to the future

After the ice, and the branches and wires and crushed cars, things looked bad. The city didn’t make it any better by saying as much as 20 per cent of the city's tree canopy had been destroyed and that people wouldn't have to apply for licenses to take down damaged trees.

"I was concerned," says Councillor Sarah Doucette (Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park), the city's tree advocate. She called in to the city, and was assured that people would have to take pictures of the damaged tree to prove it needed to be taken down. How effective this will be remains to be seen, though the councillor, who lost half of one tree and the entirety of another in her own yard, says if you take the city's hasty announcement as a license for arborcide, "We will come after you."

That 20 per cent figure also concerns her.

"I think that was a very quick ballpark," she says. "We need arborists to go out and look at these. Can we prune this tree and will it come back? But we’re really not going to know for another few years."

And as far as Doucette is concerned, those years should be spent taking a sylvan lesson or two from High Park.

"I drove through High Park after the storm," Doucette says of the park that forms a large part of her ward, "because I wanted to see what sort of devastation we had in the park. There wasn’t any devastation. Some of the branches came down, but for the size of the park, we didn’t have that much damage, and that’s because they maintain and prune the trees. If the city can put more money into pruning our city trees, we wouldn’t be losing branches like this during storms."

She also suggests there should be some education available for residents on the importance of tree maintenance to avoid the mess, damage and potential injury after storms like December’s.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source; Sarah Doucette

Construct Canada considers the value of adaptive reuse versus demolition

Building is always harder than destroying, but rebuilding may be harder still.

According to Carl Blanchaer, principal architect at WZMH, though it may be tempting for developers and other investors to tear down and start fresh, rebuilding, in the form known as adaptive re-use, may be the best bet for all concerned.

He gave his talk at the recent Construct Canada conference at the Metro Convention Centre, trying to convince builders, developers and others in the trades to think twice before knocking down.

One of the main examples he used were two projects he and his firm worked on in Toronto, 111 Richmond Street and 222 Jarvis.

With its brutalist style, the latter -- the Ontario government building formerly known as the Sears Building -- was not an obvious candidate for reclamation. But with every developer looking to at least appear green, nothing says “sustainable” like not wasting building material, or the carbon needed to demolish.

"The project has become a flagship for government initiatives in the use of sustainable building and planning approaches in the reconstruction of downtown office buildings," says the WZMH site, "and a catalyst for neighbourhood revitalization."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Carl Blanchaer

Big landlords, tenants near four-year green target two years early

It turns out when you ask the business community to cut their energy use, and they find out that it also saves them money, they go green like gangbusters.

Civic Action announced last week that the Race to Reduce, a voluntary campaign among Toronto’s commercial landlords and their clients to shave their energy use by 10 per cent in four years, was two years ahead of schedule, with consumption to the end of 2012 - figures that have just been compiled and analyzed -- down nine per cent ahead of their end-of-2014 schedule.

Brad Henderson, a senior managing regional director for CBRE and Race co-chair, is proud of what they’ve been able to collectively do so far.

"There was a lot of heavy lifting in the early days," he says. "We needed to establish process, we needed to get consensus on how information on energy reduction would be collected, measures and reported.  We also determined that it was important to collect and document case studies and tools used by participants as a way to help accelerate achievement by other companies.  While this work has been completed, there is a lot more work to be done."

The fact that they were able to do as much as they were is largely attributable to the fact that in the first few years of what's expected to be an ongoing program, Race participants were mostly large landlords and large tenants with, Henderson says, "considerable resources to mount significant energy reduction programs."

Programs included switching to LED lamps, converting to 100 per cent daytime cleaning to reduce lights used after hours, and decommissioning inefficient transformers.

(The Commercial Building Energy Leadership Council, made up of landlords and tenants representing 175 buildings and 67 million square feet, set their own reduction goals.)

The big challenge now, Henderson says, is that they've started recruiting smaller players. "As a result," he says, "achieving success of energy reduction will get harder and harder. Notwithstanding, the Race to Reduce participants are dedicated to persevere."

The Council is scheduled to set its new goals in January.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Brad Henderson

City launches Heritage Conservation District blog

The city put up a blog last week that will let us keep track of how its so-called Heritage Conservation Districts (HCDs) are coming along.
Maintained by the city’s Heritage Preservation Services (HPS), part of the Planning Division, the blog provides background information as well as updates on the five parts of the city currently under consideration for the designation, covering about 2,000 properties.
The districts are King and Spadina, “historic” Yonge Street, the Garden District (a fancy, newfangled name for the area between Allen Gardens and Moss Park), St. Lawrence and Queen Street East.
"The purpose of the HCD study is to determine if the area warrants designation as a HCD and to develop a full understanding of what makes it significant and a valued part of the city," says Scott Barrett, senior co-ordinator with the HPS, in the blog’s welcome post.

"The plan phase develops and implements policies and guidelines for conserving the valued character and sense of place that exists within the district, and to welcome the type of new development that fits in and benefits a HCD. A plan is adopted by bylaw when a district is designated."
The blog will also function as a public feedback tool.
Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Scott Barrett

Great Gulf unveils its Active House

"When we learned of the internationally based Active House Alliance, established with an ambition to build homes that create healthier and more comfortable lives for their residents without impacting negatively on the climate and environment," says Madeline Zito, director of public relations for Great Gulf Homes, "we knew this was the right association for us to work with in order to progress our objectives and learning."

Great Gulf, which does high-rise business downtown under the name Tucker Hirise, has built Canada's first house built to the specifications of the Danish-led Active House organization, a non-profit consortium of academics, activists and corporations dedicated to developing systems and technology to lighten the footprint of homes.

Great Gulf says that the grand opening of the Thorold, Ontario house on Oct, 16, attended by the Danish ambassador, Niels Boel Ambrahamsen, marks a new step in the company’s interest in green building.

"The Alliance includes the whole supply chain in the construction sector from manufacturers to architects, engineers, builders and investors, to research institutes, universities and branch organizations," Zito says. "The Alliance has developed specifications, standards, and tools, for active houses and the members are involved in demonstration projects, knowledge sharing, webinars, etc. The wish of the members is that Great Gulf Active House become the future principle for new residential buildings in Canada."

The house itself will act as a research tool for Great Gulf and their partners to study the effect and effectiveness of various building materials, products and techniques that will be incorporated into future developments.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Madeline Zito

Toronto gets a new Green Standard

For the first time since 2010, the city's got a new standard for just how green all our new buildings must be.

The new Toronto Green Standard divides buildings into two tiers. Requirements for the first tier are mandatory, and include energy efficiency targets 15 per cent higher than the Ontario Building Code and tree planting that’s in line with the city’s 40 per cent canopy.

Tier two goes much further, mandating, for instance, that wiring must be roughed in to every level of parking, allowing the installation of electric vehicle charging at any or every parking space, energy efficiency 25 per cent higher than the building code, and the so-called re-use option, which encourages developers to retain facades, walls and floors of existing buildings not listed on the heritage register rather than demolish them wholesale. The goal is not only to preserve the city’s built form, but to stem the tide of building materials into our landfills.

"Adaptive reuse is a great thing," says Joe D’Abramo, the city’s director of zoning and environmental planning, "and we’ll give them credit if they do that."

Developers who check off at least eight requirements on the tier 2 list are eligible to receive a 20 per cent discount on their development charges, which can amount to more than $10,000 per unit.

One final change that will please some and rile others: New buildings in the inner city, defined as east of the Humber, south of Lawrence, and west of Victoria Park, now have to provide bicycle parking at the rate of one per residential unit. Outside those limits, the rate is 0.75 per unit.

The new Green Standard goes into effect in January.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Joe D’Abramo

George Brown tops off Green Building Centre

The Green Building Centre at George Brown College’s Casa Loma campus celebrates its topping-off this week, having reached its full height on the way to a March, 2014 completion.

And perhaps not unsurprisingly for a building that’s part of the college’s Centre for Construction and Engineering Technologies, things have been going pretty smoothly.

“I've been waiting for shoes to drop," says the school’s dean, Nancy Sherman, “but as far as we can tell, everything’s going according to plan.”

The $4-million renovation and construction is part of a $13-million school overhaul, including $3-million in new equipment. When the renovation and expansion began, the school had 3,000 students. This includes $6.6 million in federal funds from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario’s Prosperity Initiative. By completion, the building should be able to accommodate 5,000.

With the extraordinary amount of construction going on in and around the city, the school is in particular demand and has been for sometime. The current expansion is meant to take a bite out of what Sherman describes as fairly substantial student waiting lists.

The centre was designed by KMA Architects and is being built in conjunction with MHPM property management.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Nancy Sherman

Temperance Street gets less temperate, more fun

If  you’ve been to lower Yonge Street at any point this summer, you’ll have noticed that Temperance Street, located just north of Adelaide, has utterly changed.

It used to be a side street. At some point, there was a café there haunted mostly by bike couriers. It was the sort of street that even native downtowners might not be able to place if it came up in conversation (which, naturally, it never would).

But thanks to developer Clayton Smith, it’s now the place to be on lower Yonge.

With Dineen Café right on the corner, backed up by The Chase Fish & Oyster and, upstairs, the higher-end Chase (with its rooftop balcony), all with sidewalk patios, the street is precisely what Woodcliffe wants Market Street to be, and what MOD Developments wants for St. Nicholas Street, part of its Five St. Joseph development, to be: A lively, populated street that serves both the developer’s building and becomes a neighbourhood hub. The fact that Smith has succeeded ought to give hope to those other developers, and also raise the bar for them.

"It's tough to find those unique destinations in the core," Smith says. "King West has that kind of feel, and by the Mirvish buildings, but not in the core really. That was the vision."

One of the reasons it’s so populated is that the renovation, a pristine example of adaptive reuse, was done so thoroughly and so well.

"We had some tremendous trades on the site," Smith says, quick to point out where that particular portion of the credit is due. "The copper work was amazing."

Some of the other credit goes to architect George Robb and Empire Restoration.

But it's Smith's baby, and his wheelhouse. He's also the guy who recently bought the Flatiron Building from the city’s other prominent restorative developer, Woodcliffe.

It's not the most profitable way of going about developing a site. Smith admits it would have been cheaper to tear the 117-year-old building down and put up something more straightforward. He even found a 2009 demolition permit issued to a previous owner. (Phew.)

But he’s not interested in that kind of developing. He even refused Starbucks' enthusiastic offer to take the corner space from him on very favourable terms, and leased it to John Young to make the Dineen Café, named for the building, itself named for its original owner and occupier, W. and D. Dineen Co. hatters and furriers.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Clayton Smith

Weston-Mt Dennis gets a new community hub

Weston-Mt. Dennis has become known as a "priority neighbourhood" since Mayor Miller’s time in office. An industrial part of town that lost its industry, there’s not a lot of money, and according to the Toronto Community Foundation, not a lot of sense of belonging, of connectedness among its residents, and especially its kids.

"The recipe in Rosedale is to send your kids to summer camp," says Rahul Bhardwaj, president and CEO of the TCF. In summer camp, and at the cottage, or even on the street picking up a frozen yogurt and heading over to the Bloor Cinema, for instance: That’s where you get your sense of belonging, your sense of community, in many parts of this mostly quite functional city. "In Mt. Dennis, that’s not an option."

So the TCF, along with helpers like ING, Access Community Capital, Humber College, Urban Arts and the City of Toronto, are putting the finishing touches on the Bartonville Building, a disused city signage storehouse that’s being transformed into a community hub, offering local residents a place to enjoy each others’ company in.

"I wouldn’t say they lack a sense of community," Bhardwaj says, "but they may not have as much a sense of belonging to their community. People here weren’t feeling like they could come out in their community and interact with each other. We think people getting out into their community strengthens their ties with their community."

The building on Bartonville is being outfitted with what Bhardwaj describes as "a really upbeat kitchen," along with a dance studio, a recording studio, and programs to offer courses in food handling certification, bike repair and bike safety and small business development.

The budget for the building project is $350,000 in cash and kind.

Between now and the grand opening in October, the city’s installing planters and other street furniture to connect the two neighbourhoods of Weston and Mt. Dennis, and to lend them a unified sense of place.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Rahul Bhardwaj

Tridel announces huge new waterfront development

The Waterfront development continues with another huge undertaking, this time by Hines and Tridel, announced last week.

Bayside will ultimately be a 13-acre, $1.1-billion mixed-use project, including two office buildings and 125,000 square feet of retail.

But first, there's a condo.

Aqualina will be a 363-suite tower, designed by New York’s Arquitectonica, winner of an open architectural competition. "It takes more time and more administration," says Tridel's VP of marketing and sales, Jim Ritchie, of the unusual step of opening up a condo design to competition. "It's obviously quicker to go to the guys you know best, but I think the creative juices are enhanced when you go to a competition."

Tridel is devloping the residential aspects of the project.

Waterfront’s development standard is LEED neighbourhood Gold, which requires earning between 60 and 79 points on the UCGS LEED scale, but Ritchie says they're going for LEED neighbourhood Platinum for Aqualina, which requires a minimum of 80 points.

Sales were announced last week, and Ritchie figures construction will start in 12-15 months if sales go well, with first occupancy available towards the end of 2016.

Bayside is the second very large Waterfront neghburhood developmet, after the Canary District, being developed in the West Don Lands by Dundee Kilmer, which includes the athletes village for the Pan Am/Parapan Games on its 35-acre site.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jim Ritchie

Tommy Thompson Park gets three new buildings

Three small buildings opened on Leslie Spit last week, giving an air of permanence and purpose to what’s been called an accidental urban wilderness.

According to James Roche, director of parks, design and construction at Waterfront Toronto, the spit was created as a breakwater for the outer harbour, part of a shipping plan for the Port of Toronto that was made obsolete before it was completed by the development of container ships.

Since the 1950s, it has been a dumping ground for building materials, and has grown into a multi-armed agglomeration that over the years has cultivated its own ecosystem.

"A lot of different species of animals live there now," Roche says, "and it’s a very important flyover stop for birds going to South America."

The three buildings -- a staff booth, an environmental shelter and a bird-banding hut -- are an attempt to make official the casual uses it's been put to. The staff booth will serve as a monitored entryway, enforcing the park's hours. The environmental hut will be a sort of interpretive centre, with information about the spit and its species, that also serves as a way to get out of the sun, rain or snow. The bird-banding hut will centralize the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s efforts in that area, just in time for the Tommy Thompson Spring Bird Festival on Saturday.

Work started on the project in the fall of 2010, and Roche says the entire project, including a spiffing up of several kilometres of walking and bike paths, cost $8 million.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: James Roche

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

Tridel wins Home Builder of the Year

Tridel has won the Home Builder of the Year award for the second time.

The award, handed out by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), is the result of professional adjudication as well as a survey BILD conducts among homebuyers.

"Home Builder of the Year is an all-encompassing award," says BILD’s vice president of membership, Helen Batista. "It includes charitable work, the professional development of staff, and it very much takes into account the opinion of their actual clients, the people who buy and live in their homes."

Batista also cites the developer, which sold 1,109 condos in 2012, for its green building practices, its youth program, known as BOLT, particularly as conducted through Northview Heights Secondary School.

Tridel won the award once before, in 2004, when there were separate awards for high-rise and low-rise builders. This year's prize covers all homebuilders.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Helen Batista

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

Simpson's Tower wins Live Green Award for near perfect recycling record

Live Green Toronto gave out its annual awards on Monday, and the Corporate Award went to the Simpson’s Tower for its near-perfect recycling record.

"Last year, we had an audited rate of 97 per cent," says building manager Arlena Hebert, explaining the success of the waste diversion program administered by property manager Ivanhoé Cambridge, for whom she works.

The program started a little more than five years ago when each of the building’s garbage cans was replaced with three recycling bins. The building’s average diversion over the last five years has been above 90 per cent, according to Hebert.

Hebert credits all parties with the success of the program, including the building’s owner, Hudson Bay Co., the tenants and the cleaning staff.

"The evening cleaning team is really important," she says. "They’re the ones who empty the recycling bins. If people don’t recycle properly, they don’t empty the bins, and the tenant is left with a note on their desk.”

Getting tenants in on it has been a big part of her work, she says, and she’s organized two field trips to the recycling facility that handles their stuff, GFL (formerly known as Turtle Island).

The Simpson's Tower wasn't the only winner.

Justin Nadeau won the individual award, Gordie Warnoff and his A Higher Plane got the small business award, the group award when to James Davis and the Toronto Bicycle Music Festival, and the youth winner was Thezyrie Amarouche. Each of the winners received a $2,500 prize. The Simpson's Tower is donating its prize to Cycle Toronto to help in its efforts to establish secure bike parking around the city.  

Live Green Toronto, funded by the city's Environment and Energy sector of the Toronto Environment Office and various sponsors, has been giving out awards recognizing the city's greenest companies and individuals since 2005.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Arlena Hebert

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

Ontario Architects Association awards prizes to two standout Toronto projects

The Ontario Architects Association has announced its prize winners for the year, with two GTA projects standouts among them.

"I really liked the Cedarvale Ravine House,” says OAA president Bill Birdsell of the Drew Mandel Architects-designed infill house. The house sits along Toronto's Cedarvale ravine and features floor to ceiling windows, allowing ample light to flow through its open concept design. "It works very closely with its context and the urban forestry, and it maintains sustainability for that site. That, and the really striking cantilever really stands out for me."

The other project, among eight GTA winners, that Birdsell wanted to call attention to was MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects’ Regent Park Aquatic Centre, which opened along Dundas East late last year and features a pool, large windows and wood accents viewable by street. "I just love that," he said. "Again it comes back to sustainability. It was created on a very tight budget, which I appreciate, and I like the way it brings light down into the pool area."

Birdsell says the winners are chosen each year for the clarity of their architectural language. "If the jury can really understand them," he says, "and the project gets its message across, that’s how they win."

The awards will be presented in May at the OAA annual conference.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Bill Birdsell

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

River City 2 enters pile-driving phase

If you’ve gone east on either King or Queen to cross the bridge into Riverside, you can’t help but to have noticed the enormous development going on between the two streets. It’s called River City, and few Toronto condos have been more aptly named.

The pilings are just now being put into the ground for River City 2, the second of what will ultimately be four phases of this massive addition to the city, one that may just make that Don River of ours into something people occasionally remember exists.

"We started construction in the beginning of February," says Jeff Geldart, Urban Capital’s development manager in charge of River City. "We’re currently drilling for caissons and piles -- the foundation system -- because we don’t have any program underground. We’re not allowed to build down."

Geldart explains that they’re not allowed to dig out a foundation of the sort we’ve become used to around the city because they’re building on a flood protection landform built by Infrastructure Ontario to protect the city’s core from the sort of flooding New Orleans experienced after Hurricane Katrina. Geldart describes the landform as "an extremely large berm," and says that the first three phases of the project are all being built on it.

River City 2, designed by the Montreal firm of Saucier and Perrotte with 249 units in three 12-storey mini-towers, will be completed in two years, with the entire project is expected to be done sometime between 2018 and 2020.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jeff Geldart

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

132 Sustainability Articles | Page: | Show All
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