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Solar-power upgrades installed on city-owned buildings

Two years after city council passed a Toronto Hydro proposal to better embrace solar power, the solar panels are about to start going up on the first three of the city's municipally owned buildings.

The plan, a sort of pilot project, calls for panels on 10 city buildings, the first three of which, Mimico Arena, York Mills Arena and Goulding Park Community Centre/Arena, will start getting their photovoltaic panels this week.

The city estimates that once all 10 buildings are outfitted with the projected 8,800 panels, they will generate the equivalent of about $16 million in revenues for the city over the next two decades. The electricity will enter the Toronto Hydro grid and be bought by the Ontario Power Authority. The city estimates that the new panels will save about 480 tonnes of carbon emissions a year.

"The city is our shareholder," says Toronto Hydro's Jennifer Link. "It's a good opportunity to generate revenue for the shareholder. We do have experience in the renewable space and I think it's an area we do explore occasionally."

The remaining seven buildings are Police College, Agincourt Park Arena, Victoria Village Arena, Malvern Community Centre, Grandravine Community Centre/Arena, Roding Community Centre/Arena and McGregor Park Arena.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jennifer Link, Spokesperson, Toronto Hydro

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TD Centre tower earns LEED Platinum certification

One hundred Wellington has become the first tower in Toronto to be given LEED Platinum certification.

The Canada Green Building Council made it official this week, recognizing the work Halsall Associates and the TD Centre have done over the past several years, which has included earning LEED Gold status for the centre as a whole.

In order to achieve this level of carbon efficiency, the building had to demonstrate its performance in several areas, including having a sustainable site, being water efficient, having sufficiently low energy use, using materials and resources in a sustainable way and having a high level of what's known as "indoor environmental quality," which includes being smoke-free and using environmentally friendly cleaning products.

In addition to these infrastructural improvements, the TD Centre has also planted a green roof, made up of a grid of sedge grass to cool the roof, and set up what they're calling a green portal to allow both tenants and the public to track energy use in the complex.

Writer: Bert Archer

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]


Years in the making, city's contamination report reveals our impact on Lake Ontario

The City of Toronto has just completed an assessment of the effect we have on Lake Ontario's water quality.

Nine years in the making, the report is part of the wet-weather flow master plan, passed by council in 2003.

"A few years ago, the International Joint Commission reviewed the state of the Great Lakes and issued a report that pointed to sources of contamination around the lakes," says councillor John Parker, whose Ward 26 includes large parts of the Don Valley through which much of the city's lakebound rainwater flows. "Toronto didn't do as badly as some, but we had our share of responsibility for the state of Lake Ontario."

The report makes three categories of recommendations related to sanitary sewer systems, wet-weather flow collection and storage systems, and treatment of the water, which collects various contaminants on its way through the city to the lake after rain and snow falls. The report itself is available online here and in physical form at the Beaches Library, Leaside Library, City Hall Library and the St. Lawrence Library until September 24.

"This is another one of those enormous capital costs that we face that isn't on everybody's radar," Parker says. "It isn't something that's immediately at top of mind when people think of what we need to spend money on now and into the future, but it's something we can't ignore forever and it's a cost we have to build into our budgeting as we look towards the future.”

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Councillor John Parker

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Passive house course for builders, designers coming to town

The "passivhaus" for which Germany has become so famous was actually born in Canada in 1977, says Ross Elliott, the man looking to bring the idea back home.

"Europe took what the Canadians learned back in the early '80s and developed this passive house certification and sort of sent it back across the ocean to us," says Elliott, president and CEO of Homesol Building Solutions. The voluntary certification promotes ultra-low energy buildings with small carbon footprints.

Elliott, alongside Russell Richman, Ryan Abendroth and Graham Irwin, are bringing their own German certification training to Toronto in July to teach their first nine-day course on passive house construction.

The course, which will count for 32 credits, or two years' worth, of professional continuing education for architects and LEED professionals, will teach students how to build houses that use as little as 15 kilowatts per square metre per year for heating. The average house now uses between 150 and 160 kilowatts. The goal for the total energy load for the passive house, including heating, ventilation, lighting and other services is 120 kw. The standard for retrofit houses is 25 kw per square metre for heating annually.

"It's not pie-in-the-sky stuff," Elliott says, pointing out that there are about 25,000 such houses across Europe, and eight now on the drawing board in Ottawa, where he's based, with about 30 likely to be in the works by the end of the year.

The course runs July 31 to August 4 and August 20 to 23 and costs $2,250 plus HST, with an extra $250 charge to take a certification exam.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Ross Elliott

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Cadillac Fairview launches publicly accessible energy tracker for TD Centre

The Toronto Dominion Centre has launched an online dashboard so tenants and the general public can track energy uses in its six towers.

"TDC has deployed a broad range of technologies," said the TD Centre's general manager, David Hoffman, in a press release, “but the engagement and participation of tenants is our most powerful environmental best practice."

Yesterday, the site, known as the green portal, showed that the biggest energy consumption, out of Tower 1, registered 909 kilowatt hours between midnight at noon, and the lowest, Tower 3, used 335.

The site was developed by TD Centre landlords, Cadillac Fairview. It does not allow public perusal of individual tenants' consumption, though the tenants themselves can access the information in real time using the Carma Smart Metering system.


Writer: Bert Archer
Source: David Hoffman

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Olive Square Park opens at Finch station with community design suggestions intact

There's a small lawn in the middle of Olive Square Park, the city's newest public park because residents of the Yonge and Finch area wanted at least some green in the otherwise highly developed area.

"There was a series of two working groups meetings where we presented a couple of options," says David Nosella, a capital projects supervisor with the city. "The selected the concept on which the final design was based."

Nosella says there were between 20 and 25 residents in each group, who worked with designs provided by Michael Prusetti of MEP Design. "The planting is all irrigated," Nosella says. "There's a central, raised law area, which the community was adamant they wanted. They wanted at least some open lawn space."

The 1,600-square-metre park is otherwise designed as an urban square, fronting onto Yonge Street, with limestone from Owen Sound along the frontage, a bioswale to filter rainwater before it makes it into the sewer system, and LED lighting throughout.

There are also lots of benches.

"It's somewhere on Yonge Street to come and eat your lunch or sit and read your book," Nosella says.

Work began on the park in November, and was substantially completed in early May on a budget of $950,000. The park officially opened this week.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: David Nosella

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Glen Stewart Ravine reclamation work completed

Reclamation and preservation work on one of the city's most ecologically diverse habitats is now more or less complete.

Over the years, the ravine became a popular dog-walking spot, which caused a lot of damage to the plants, as well as considerable erosion of the sloping topography.

Work to shore up and reclaim the area began in September, and included the building of a 114-step staircase and a 120-metre boardwalk. A fenced in off-leash dog area has also been marked out, to contain both canine and human activity in the area.

The Glen Stewart Ravine, which runs from Kingston Road down to Pine Glen Road between Glen Manor Drive and Balsam, not only provides one of the city's most idyllically scenic post, it is also 11 hectares of tree canopy. Because of its combination of dry and very damp terrain, it is one of the only places in the GTA to be home to such a wide variety of flora.

"In this place, there's groundwater seepage," says Ruthanne Henry, an urban forestry planner with the city, "so there are a lot of plants that like saturated roots, plants that attract butterflies, which are a naturally deterrent to poison ivy, for example." She says there are four species of tree in the ravine that are considered rare, including white oak and red oak.

Once the groundwork is completed this week, 250 herbaceous plants will be planted in the retaining structure along the slopes to prevent further erosion, part of a total of 3,300 plants being put in this month which, Henry says, "need your protection from trampling."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Ruthanne Henry

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CMHC recognizes Sustainable.TO & Greenbilt for healthy North York house

A house in North York has earned its builder and architect special recognition for being the embodiment of the five essentials of healthy housing.

The principles, set out by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), relate to occupant health, energy efficiency, resource efficiency, environmental responsibility and affordability.

"The architect takes full advantage of the passive house standard, building envelope and passive solar gain to create a house that could virtually operate without an active heating system," says Jamie Shipley, a senior research consultant with the CMHC in Toronto. "Then, on top of that is the occupants' detail that was required to make sure the house has healthy air: Everything that goes into that house is low VOC [Volatile Organic Compounds], no off-gassing."

The CMHC recognizes one builder a year who has built either a single family home or a multi-residential building to these standards. It's unusual for an architect to also be recognized, but the CMHC in this instance is acknowledging what it feels were substantial contributions from Sustainable.TO in its work with Greenbilt Homes.

The house, a single family dwelling known as the Willowdale Passive Solar House, is at 84 Norton Avenue, just south of Yonge and Finch.

Though the CMHC is a national organization, the healthy Housing Recognition program is only operated in Ontario.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jamie Shipley

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Waterfront Toronto gets GLOBE green award

Waterfront Toronto has won a national award for excellence in urban sustainability.

The award was handed out last month by the Vancouver-based GLOBE Foundation, which is described on its website as a "not-for-profit private business foundation... established… to carry forward our mandate to promote the business case for sustainable development." It won the award over contenders such as the University of British Columbia Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability and the City of Vancouver.

"What set Waterfront Toronto aside and earned it the GLOBE Award for Excellence in Urban Sustainability was the framework they established back in 2005 and updated in 2011," says Carine Vindeirinho, awards program co-ordinator for the Global Opportunities in Business and the Environment (GLOBE) Foundation. "Their Minimum Green Building Requirements guidelines, proprietary Carbon Modeling Tool and successful stakeholder consultation were some of the noteworthy elements of their approach. The judges also commended Waterfront Toronto's commitment to deliver sustainable, mixed-use communities integrated with parks and open spaces with a focus to enhance the natural environment, generate economic benefits and produce social-cultural gains in a triple bottom line approach."

The award was given jointly to Waterfront Toronto and Halsall Engineering.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Carine Vindeirinho

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Transit expert points out what TO can learn from LA and Denver

When Toronto transit has something to learn from Los Angeles, you know something's gone wrong.

Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and director of its Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative, spoke at the Munk School of Global Affairs on February 27 about the importance of transit in the development of a mature and growing city.

He talked to Yonge Street before his presentation about some of the primary issues, and as it turns out, both Los Angeles and Denver have done some things Puentes figures other growing cities, like Toronto, can learn from.

"The main thing," Puentes says, "one would not want to do is plan in isolation; the transit for transit's sake approach. In the US, we waste a lot of money that way. Given this larger preoccupation, obsession I should say, with this shift from a consumption-based economy to something more productive, like advances manufacturing, trying to find a way to connect transit investment to those economic ends is a way to garner not just political support, but support from the general public."

Denver, he says, has planned its transit growth to match areas of projected population growth, seeing it not just as a way to get people from place to place, but to transform the city into a more productive place. And Los Angeles, long known as the city with the subway no one knows about, got two-thirds approval from voters during the recession from a mayor who made the case for extending that subway down Wilshire Boulevard to Santa Monica. Voters agreed to a half per cent increase in sales tax that’s expected to generate as much as $40 billion over the next 30 years. Voters in Denver did something similar, under a similarly good mayor, whose since has become governor.

"If we do believe that low carbon is going to be something that we're going to have to do long term," Puentes says, "not just as an environmental imperative, but as a market imperative... if these metropolitan areas are going to be economically healthy in the future, they're going to have to have options for transit that can't be car-oriented."

The other two talks in the series will be held on March 26 and April 16 at the Munk School from 4pm to 6pm.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Robert Puentes

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Work begins on 2015 Pan Am athletes village

Work has begun on the athletes village for the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games, a development that will add 1,040 residential units to the Waterfront.

Dundee Kilmer are the developers who signed the $514-million fixed-price contract with the province to develop the site.

The architects are KPMB, Architects Alliance, Doaust LeStage, TEN Arquitectos and MacLennan Jaunkains MillerEllis DonLedcor PAAV Inc. are the builders.

In addition to the residences, the project will add a new streetcar line along Cherry Street, an 82,000-square-foot YMCA and a student residence for the new Waterfront campus of George Brown College (the college's first residence).

Seven hundred and eighty-seven of the residential units will ultimately be designated market value, while the remaining 253 will be low-cost rentals.

The goal is to get the entire project certified LEED Gold.

Those involved are betting the project will be completed before July 10, 2015, when the Pan American Games begin. The Parapan American Games run August 7-14.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Tari Stork

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Green Toronto Awards nominations now open

Nominations opened this week for the 2012 Green Toronto Awards, though the most interesting category from the 2011 edition has been dropped.

Last year, the awards expanded to include a green homes category, aimed at individuals who had done something remarkable to or with their own homes.

"It wasn't our strongest category," says Jessica Chow, co-ordinator for the city-sponsored awards. "We don’t know why. We noticed a lot of them were, 'Oh, I recycle in my home.' It wasn't really what we were after."

So this year, it's been folded into the more general green design category, where individual homes will now compete with eco clothing, green roofs and other design innovations.

Nominations can be submitted here until midnight on Feb. 6. Winners will be announced in March.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jessica Chow

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Landlords, tenants recognized with new energy-savings awards

A new annual award for landlord and tenant collaboration in energy reduction gave out its first prizes last week.

Race to Reduce, a program established by Greening Greater Toronto, awarded the prizes in the categories of participation, performance and "action and innovation."

"The inaugural Race to Reduce Awards event celebrated some of the region's best examples of landlord and tenant collaboration to achieve energy and financial savings," says Linda Mantia, co-chair of the program at Greening Greater Toronto, in a press release. 


The Race to Reduce has 380 participants in the GTA, accounting for 117 buildings with a total of 51.6 million square feet of office space.

Winners included Whiterock REIT for the performance of their building at 191 The West Mall and the building team behind the TD Centre.

Writer: Bert Archer

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Pickering policeman builds 5,000-square-foot straw-bale house

A Pickering house is being built using a new way to build walls, a method that’s attracted Chinese researchers to its open house on Friday.

The house is being built out of modular straw-bale walls developed by a St. Catharines startup, Nature Built Wall Systems Inc.

According to Neeraj Jain, one of three partners behind Nature Built, the owner, a Pickering policeman, had another house on the lot that burned down due to an electrical fire. He decided his next house was going to have the best materials he could get. While he was at it, he figured he might as well go green.

Straw-bale walls are not new, but there have been obstacles to bringing them into the mainstream.

"It's very inexpensive, you're using natural materials, it's fire resistant, it's also very resistant to earthquakes," Jain says. "The problem is it's messy, people think about the three little pigs, and you need specialized trades people to put it together, so [Jain's partner, Chris Magwood] came up with this idea of modularize it, to put it together in a factory, load them up onto a truck, arrive at the site, and pretty much like Lego, lay them down, fasten them to the foundation, and within half a day or a day you've got the whole building envelope done. It's a pretty novel way of building houses, and obviously, we're hoping it's going to catch on."

Representatives of the Chinese Academy of Building Research were interested in paying Magwood a visit to learn more about his system, and organized their trip so they could take a look at the walls in action. The deputy mayor of Pickering will also be at the north Pickering house at Brock Road and Concession Road 9 on Friday to cut a ribbon.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Neeraj Jain

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Greenbuild expo brings 1,000 enviro companies, Maroon 5, to Toronto Oct. 4-7

The people who brought us LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification are bringing their trade show to Toronto.

The 10th anniversary of the Greenbuild expo and conference runs Oct. 4-7 at the Metro Convention Centre. It's the first time the show has been held outside the United States.

"We focused on Toronto not only because it is a modern global hub for green building and development," says Jennifer Easton, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Green Building Council, "but also because of our strong relationship with the Canadian Green Building Council."

The show will feature exhibits from about 1,000 companies related to green building, as well as talks by Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell, Thomas Friedman and Cokie Roberts. The opening plenary session will be entertained by Maroon 5.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jennifer Easton

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132 sustainability Articles | Page: | Show All
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