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sustainability : Development News

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Allied Properties REIT gets zoning approval, looks for lead tenant for 275,000 sf space at Richmond

The building on the northwest corner of Richmond and Peter, a relatively non-descript four-storey building that's been home to several short-lived nightclubs and restaurants over the years, is on the verge of a transformation.

Allied Properties Real Estate Income Trust, the commercial developer responsible for the architecturally successful 111 Queen Street East agglomeration of heritage buildings, plans to renovate the exiting building and add a new tower on top of it, which they intend to build to LEED Gold specifications.

Allied bought the building in 2003 and has been biding its time until the market seemed right. Now it's officially looking for a lead tenant.

"In a perfect world, [they'd take] around 100,000 square feet," says Allied's AVP of investment, Emily Hanna, who hopes to have someone signed by the end of May. "We'll announce a tenant, and the next day we'll break ground."

The new building will have a total of 275,000 square feet and will be called Queen Richmond Centre West.

Allied's approach to commercial space bears a lot of resemblance to other developers' work turning warehouses into lofts.

"The main reason people will fight for living in a condo downtown is because they want to be near their work space," Hanna says, "so there's this interplay between the work, the residence and the retail." People, she says, like having work spaces that have the same ethos as their living spaces.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Emily Hanna


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$110-million renovation at 77 King West begins replacing ventilation, plaza renovation continues

A year into the project, the renovation of 77 King Street West has begun installing its new ventilation system, and will begin the LEED certification process next month.

The renovation of the large office complex, part of the TD Centre, began last February and is expected to wrap up in 2012.

In addition to the installation of the new ventilation system on the vacant floors, which is scheduled to take until August, the plaza is being replaced and waterproofed, a project that should be completed next month. Other improvements to the concierge desk, the directory board, elevators, the lobby, and washrooms are being included in the general renovation. Windows and window-shading systems, as well as ventilation equipment for occupied floors, will be done beginning in April.

The renovation, being financed by owners Cadillac Fairview, is expected to cost $110-million.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: David Hoffman

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Toronto's 69 per cent grade makes us the top large green city in Canada

Toronto has been named Canada's most sustainable large city for the second year in a row.

The award, given by Corporate Knights and announced at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual Sustainable Communities Conference in Victoria last week, gave the city a 69 per cent, two per cent lower than the winners of the small and medium sized categories, Victoria and Vancouver respectively.

"It wouldn't get anyone into university," says Corporate Knights researcher Erin Marchington of the relatively low scores, though she commends the city on what it has been able to achieve. She pointed out Toronto's household waste diversion and its retrofit grants, which help property owners green their buildings, as high points.

She also likes the city's approach to green roofs. "Toronto has one of the few requirements for a green roof to be put on a building over a certain size, 2,000 square metres," she says, "which is really innovative."

The award, which takes a very broad approach to sustainability, also commended the city on its relatively high municipal voter turnout, which at 53 per cent, dwarfed Victoria's, for example, which was 23 per cent.

Where the city falls down is in total waste diversion, including corporate and industrial, which she pegs at hovering around 40 per cent. The Corporate Knights ideal is 80 per cent. She also points out the low proportion of green space in the city -- 12 per cent of its total area.

Corporate Knights is an independent media company founded by Toby Heaps. It studies sustainability issues, concentrating mostly on the business world. This is their fifth annual municipal ranking.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Erin Marchington

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$1 billion Astral Media deal helps city's walking strategy win national prize

Toronto's walking strategy has been named the best transportation plan in the country.

As described in the citation from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, who gave the award, "The city aims to strengthen Torontonians' sense of community by putting more "eyes on the street' and by creating more shared public spaces and opportunities for social interaction and recreation."

The plan, developed roughly between the Walk 21 conference in Toronto in 2007, and its adoption in May, 2009, has been funded through the public realm section of the city's $1-billion street furniture advertising contract with Astral Media, from which the Pedestrian Projects division gets roughly $1 million a year.

"I think it's that, for me, it's the three guiding principles: design excellence, universal accessibility and safety," says Fiona Chapman, the woman in charge of executing the strategy.

She's especially enthusiastic about the strategy's design aspect. "If it isn't handsome, there's no point in it," she says. "A lot of walking is not just about getting from a to b; it's sitting, watching other walkers, that's what makes our city so fantastic."

The strategy involves physical things, like paths, green spaces, benches; promotional items, such as ad campaigns and a walking website; as well as more strictly pragmatic things, like the pedestrian scrambles at Yonge and Dundas, Yonge and Bloor and Bloor and Bay.

The current strategy has a 10-year time frame.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Fiona Chapman

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Zerofootprint announces 2nd annual re-skinning awards, Toronto house won last year

Nominations have opened for the second annual Zerofootprint Re-skinning Awards, meant to call attention to a lesser-known way for businesses and homeowners to green their buildings.

Much has been written about buildings being built to LEED standards, but the concept of skinning re-doing the exterior of a building to improve its efficiency and reduce its emissions is a relatively new concept for most of us.

According to Anna Starasts, spokeswoman for Zerofootprint, the Spadina Avenue company better known for its sales of carbon offsets, the awards are open to architects, engineers, developers and building owners of "older, energy-inefficient buildings and implemented design solutions to move them closer to a net zero footprint performance."

"The goal of the awards is to stimulate market-disrupting improvements in the design and development of retrofitting and re-skinning technologies," Starasts says, "That is, let's make retrofitting and re-skinning the usual way in which we build our cities."

Thought he awards are international in scope, last year's residential winner was from Toronto. Known as the Now House, this WWII-era house was retrofit by Work Worth Doing Studio and Lorraine Gauthier in 2008-2009. The re-skinning resulted in a 70 per cent reduction in energy use.

Nominations close Aug. 31. Last year's winners were presented at the UN World Urban Forum in Rio.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Anna Starasts

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GTA gets middling grades on green report card in advance of Greater Toronto Summit 2011

Environmentally speaking, Toronto is doing well, but it could do better.

That's the ambivalent conclusion of the "report card" released on Jan. 31 by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Greening Greater Toronto, in conjunction with the Boston Consulting Group.

Apparently, we're doing better with air, water usage and recycling, but not so well on storm water management, sprawl, traffic, forests and wetlands and the diversity of our fauna and flora.

"From a development perspective, we have to do things differently and better," says Deborah Martin-Downs, director of the TRCA's ecology division, "particularly on the transportation and energy-efficiency side."

"Two-thirds of the landfill comes from commercial companies," says Kilian Berz, managing director of Boston Consulting Group Canada and co-chair of Greening Greater Toronto. "We don't have enough diversion." Berz points to certain success stories, though, such as the Simpson Tower, which he says achieved 96 per cent diversion as early as 2008, and the TD Towers, which he says diverted 76 per cent of its waste in 2009. Berz says the average for Toronto office towers hovers between 20 and 40 per cent.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Deborah Martin-Downs, Kilian Berz

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Toronto Atmospheric Fund approves $500,000 in funding for residential solar panel installations

The board of the Toronto Atmospheric Fund has approved up to $500,000 in funding for Greensaver, a non-profit that helps homeowners with the expense of installing solar panels.

TAF, a two decade-old arm's length creation of the city originally funded by the $23 million in proceeds from the sale of the Langstaff Jail farm lands, provides grants to the community and the city to help solve problems associated with air pollution.

This is TAF's second investment in residential solar panels. The first was Pure Energies last year.

"We're kind of like a mini bank," says executive director Julia Langer, explaining that Greensaver won't get all the money at once, but in the form of smaller loans as needed, depending on the volume of their business.

Langer describes TAF's financial strategy as win-win-win investments "that give us a market rate of return and are aligned with our mandate, decreasing greenhouse  impact and showing some lessons to the winder community."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Julia Langer

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Toronto Environmental Office announces two new green awards worth $5,000

The Toronto Environment Office has instituted two new Green Toronto Awards to recognize individual business and homeowner efforts in the city.

Worth $5,000 each, the new awards, which join the previous prizes rewarding efforts in local food, community projects, energy conservation, environmental awareness, green design, leadership, water efficiency and youth leadership.

"With the green homeowner award, we're recognizing people showing leadership," says Lawson Oates, director of the TEO. "Examples can be energy and water conservation measures, changing light bulbs right, conserving storm water, putting in low-flow shower heads, low-flush toilets, renewable energy insulation, geothermal for their homes, it can be landscaping, zeroscaping so they're not using tap water to water their lawn, using vegetation that can withstand droughts in the summer."

The business award will focus on products, services and physical plants, with a concentration on smaller businesses without sizeable research and development budgets.

The prize consists of a certificate and plaque, and $5,000. The catch, especially for homeowners, is that the money must be spent further your own green goals, or as a donation to a green charity.

Nominations close at midnight, Feb. 7.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Lawson Oates

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Developer engages Kirkor and Munge Leung to design more affordable 285-unit, 21-storey condo tower

A planned community in mid-construction at Yonge and the 401 is exhibiting a greater than average dedication to diversity.

Avonshire, by Tridel, features not only the regular, relatively high end condo towers, and the by now usual townhouse component, but a rental building as well as a lower priced tower specifically aimed at first-time buyers and others who are willing to swap space for price.

The Aristo tower, just launched, will be 285 units on 21 floors. The sizes will range from about 400 to 900 square feet.

"Aristo differentiates itself from the Avonshire condominium in that the architecture is avant-garde, with extensive use of glass, and the suites are somewhat smaller," says Jim Ritchie, Tridel's vice president of sales and marketing. "Our target market is first-time buyers that are attracted to downtown towers, in terms of architecture and design, but prefer to live in a central location, close to transit, north of the 401."

The architect for this "central" project is Kirkor, with Munge Leung signed up to do the interiors. The building will also pursue LEED accreditation, a standard policy now for the developer.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jim Ritchie

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Turning off the lights can save corporate tenants 12 per cent of annual energy costs, expert says

As Torontonians get more and more environmentally conscientious, recycling, composting, not using plastic bags for their groceries, a second-wave sort of feeling can set in. Are we doing enough? Or are all these little things we do just that, little things that don't add up to enough to have any real effect?

And this questioning can extend to the corporate world, as well. If a hotel says it's being green by using low-flow showerheads, or an office building toots its own horn because it turns off all its lights at night, are they greening, or greenwashing?

According to Doug Webber, the green building practice leader for Halsall, an engineering and consulting firm that helps corporate clients use their energy more efficiently, turning off an office tower's lights at night is no small beer.

According to Webber, an average tower tenant expends about a quarter of its energy on lighting.  So if they only turn on their lights between 7am and 6pm, instead of keeping them on all night, "That's 50 per cent of the hours that the lights are off. You could save 12 per cent of your energy just by turning the lights off at night."

Another quarter of corporate tenant's energy tends to go to information technology, so turning computers off -- and reducing the number of servers that need to be on all the time, whenever possible -- when they're not in use can have a similar effect.

"One of the problems with accusations of greenwashing, if they're not careful, is that they can throw cold water on what might be legitimately good first steps," says Chris MacDonald, visiting scholar with the Rotman School of Business's Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics who also runs the Business Ethics Blog "A company may be trying to get some credit for doing the right thing, but then figures they're getting crapped on, so they'll stop."

For his part, MacDonald reserves the term for companies he thinks "have just an atrocious track record and they're really holding up something tiny that isn't central to what they do."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Doug Webber, Chris MacDonald

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Tower renewal study finds 1,925 residential towers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe

Just as concerns were rising that the city was becoming less interested in what's come to be known as tower renewal -- the greening and refurbishment of our many 1960s and 70s residential slabs -- the province stepped in. The first tangible result was released at the end of November in the form of a tower study focused not just on Toronto or the GTA, but the entire Greater Golden Horseshoe.

"It's a sort of mapping exercise," says Paul Kulig of Regional Architects, which was involved in the study, "that for the first time identifies the scope of the towers and the issues associated with them beyond the boundaries of Toronto."

According to the report, there are 1,925 towers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which makes the region unique in North America, and more similar to parts of Asia, Europe and the former Soviet Union where massive development took place in the wake of the second world war and the installation of controlled economies.

According to the executive summary, "The focus of this study is two-fold. The first objective is to analyze and catalogue this housing resource to better understand its current role within the GGH. The second objective is to examine the potential for Tower Neighbourhood Renewal to support the realization of provincial priorities, such as implementing the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, creating a network of regional rapid transit, conserving energy, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) production, reducing poverty, providing affordable housing, and building a green economy."

According to Kulig, the study is the first step in the renewal of towers across the Golden Horseshoe, the province taking its lead from work championed by Mayor Miller.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Paul Kulig

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Sweet Pete's gives the old Tap a $125,000 facelift

Some new business owners like a clean slate, wiping whatever came before unsentimentally away in pursuit of their own brand of success.

Peter Lilly is not that kind of business owner.

When he decided to expand his Sweet Pete's bike shop business into the Annex from its west Bloor beginnings, he decided that the old Tap bar would be the perfect place.

 "I've lived in Toronto for about 20 years," he says, "and I can remember being a patron of that bar a long time ago, so there was a bit of an attachment there."

So when you stop by, you'll see the old neon tap sign above the door. "We're going to restore that in the spring when the sign makers can get up to do the job," he says. He even kept the taps themselves, though he's not sure what he's going to do with those yet.

Which is not to say he just moved into the old space as is. "It was in pretty rough shape," he says of the old bar, which, he says, hadn't been in business for at least 8 months before he stepped into the place. "The basement was just filled with clutter, old paperwork and desks and freezers that were still running with food in them. It was insane how much junk there was."

The building had been built in three stages, with different coloured brick in different sections of the interior, so he hired Peter Woodworth of The Brick Painters to paint each brick individually to achieve some consistency. (Lilly's contractor was Brian Zahra.)

It took about $125,000 and three months to finish the 1,400 square foot space, which now includes bamboo floors, new insulation and, shortly, a solar panel. But as far as Lilly's concerned, it's been worth it. "It's just a really, really, cool space," he says.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Peter Lilly

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GWL adds second tower, 700,000 square feet of office space to Southcore Financial Centre

Work has started on the second office tower slated for the block of land between York and Simcoe fronting on Bremner.

The tower, currently named Bremner Tower, is slated for occupancy in 24 months, and will join the nearly completed PwC Tower and the future 45-storey Delta Hotel to form part of what's being called Southcore Financial Centre.

The project is owned by the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation and developed by GWL Realty Advisors. The two office towers, totalling 1.4 million square feet of office space, were designed by KPMB. The Bremner tower, the larger of the two, will offer 700,000 square feet on 30 floors.

According to Mervin McCoubrey, senior vice president of development for GWL's Eastern Canadian division, all three buildings are being built with the environment very much in mind.

"We're building to LEED Gold standards," he says as he leads a tour around the unfinished interior of the PwC Tower, but adds that whether they get certification or not, their concerns and efforts are focused on that level of sustainability. The buildings will have roof water collection, which will be used both for toilets and to water the extensive wooded areas being built as third-floor terraces on all three buildings. Light sensors in the building will alter the artificial light levels based on existing natural light, and they'll be making extensive use of Enwave's deep lake water cooling, doing their intake at night, so they can also make use the energy they use in the process at off-peak hours.

There will also be more than 130 interior bike parking spots in each of the two office towers, and the whole complex is connected directly to both the TTC and GO Transit.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Mervin McCoubrey

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RBC and Oxford confer in 5th landlord-tenant greening meeting

The fifth in the Toronto City Summit Alliance's Greening Our Workplaces series of talks between major landlords and their major tenants in downtown office towers took place in November between the Royal Bank of Canada and Oxford Properties.

Issues discussed included tips about excess lighting, efficient lighting, computer power management settings, unplugging devices when they're not in use and clearing air vents of obstructions.

Though these are all minor issues and minor efforts that are often placed under the heading of greenwashing, the fact the meeting took place at all, and that it took place in Canada's first LEED EB Gold certified bank tower, is an indication that the nation's corporate community is paying attention, if only to save a little money.

"We are interested in working with all our tenants to help them meet their green goals and collectively reduce the environmental footprint of RBC Plaza," said Andrew McAllan, Oxford's senior vice president and managing director for real estate, in a press release (no one was available for interviews). "We look forward to working with more companies in our building to help them reduce wasted energy and save money."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Rebecca Geller

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Ground broken on 45-storey, 566-room Delta Hotel at Simcoe and Bremner

The ground was broken this past Friday on the city's newest hotel, a hotel Canada's largest chain, Delta, hopes will redefine the brand.

"It will have no exterior walls," says Delta president and CEO Hank Stackhouse, "it'll all be glass." He says the rooms will all be oversized as well, with most being over 400 square feet. "It will also be highly steeped in technology," he says, saying it will have WiFi "top to bottom," though as for the rest of the technological amenities for guests, "as sure as we're standing here today, technology will be different by 2014," he says, of the projected opening date, so he's loath to go into particulars.

The building will be built to high environmental standards, however, with systems for heat recovery ventilation, low-flow water fixtures, a green roof and an "urban forest" of full-grown deciduous trees on about 10,000 square feet of terrace on the third floor.

The building, built on land once owned by Fairmont, sold to BCIMC (British Columbia Investment Management Corporation) and now managed by GWL Realty Advisors, will be 45 storeys high, with 566 rooms, including 24 extended-stay suites with full kitchens.

The building was designed by Toronto's Page and Steele/IBI Group; the interiors will be by Champalimaud Design in New York.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Hank Stackhouse

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a cool 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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