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Renewables : Development News

7 Renewables Articles | Page:

Kortright Centre building experimental subdivision

Imagine a subdivision of homes of the future—energy efficient, sustainable, accessible—where nobody lives, but is visited by hundreds of thousands of people.
 
That’s what the Toronto Region Conservation Authority is building at its Kortright Centre for Conservation in Vaughan. Construction will start in the next couple of weeks on the new BRE Innovation Park at the Living City Campus at Kortright. Although there are BRE (Building Research Establishment) parks in other countries, this will be Canada’s first, providing a stage for builders and suppliers to test new materials, products and building techniques and share the results with industry, government and academic researchers.
 
The site is already home to the Archetype Sustainable House, which showcases sustainable technologies, materials and practices. But over the next few years, that anchor project will be joined by seven new buildings of about 1,000 square feet each, forming a small inhabitant-less community. Installing the infrastructure will cost about $2 million—the City of Vaughan requires the project to be linked into the municipal sewer system—but much of the labour and material will be donated by partners eager to demonstrate how their innovative products and techniques can create more sustainable communities.
 
“Each of those new buildings will be built to different performance targets for water efficiency, energy efficiency, accessibility, etc. It’s basically a sandbox to test and evaluate green building technologies,” says Glenn MacMillan, senior manager of water and energy at TRCA. Some of the buildings, like the visitor’s centre that is being built by Ellis Don, will be owned by the authority, while others will be owned by the developer for up to five years.
 
 Although no one will live at the subdivision, the buildings will be tested for their liveability by the many visitors and by staff. “We can simulate as if someone is living there for research purposes,” says MacMillan. “We can control lightbulbs, heat, toilet flush, turn on washing machines. We have staff in the Archetype House doing research now so there are people coming and going all the time.”
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Glenn MacMillan

Energy efficiency retrofit conference hits Toronto

Canadian builders, architects and planners will get the chance to learn about cutting-edge energy efficiency retrofits during a conference this month with a delegation of German companies.
 
The September 22 conference brings eight German tech and manufacturing firms with an expertise in energy efficiency to the city to talk about opportunities to work together on making existing buildings more energy efficient.
 
“For us Canadians, it’s interesting because Germany is number one in the sector of energy efficiency and renewable energy because they have a long lasting program to turn their energy completely to renewable,” says Emma Sargsyan, manager of business development for the Canadian German Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Participating companies offer a range of products and services including more efficient windows and doors, measuring and control technology and engineering services.
 
Although Toronto’s building boom, with all its shiny new condo towers, has attracted much attention, Toronto also has a serious appetite for retrofits now, particular within the city’s tower renewal program. Though the chamber hosts regular conferences aimed at pairing Canadian and German companies, this is the first time they’ve hosted an event solely dedicated to retrofitting.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Emma Sargsyan

City offers homeowners low-interest loans for green retrofits

It just got easier being green.
 
As of now, the city is offering $10 million worth of low-interest loans to single-family dwelling owners looking to retrofit their house in certain neighbourhoods around the city, but were previously dissauded by the associated costs of doing so.

"At its meeting of July 2013, Toronto City Council unanimously approved a $20-million pilot energy efficiency pilot program for the residential sector," says Rosalynd Rupert, a communications officer with the city.

"$10 million in funding is to be allocated to the Home Energy Loan Program, geared to single-family houses. HELP is designed to advance funding to consenting property owners interested in undertaking qualifying energy and water improvements with repayment via installments on the property tax bill."
 
It's a pilot project for the moment, available in Black Creek, Toronto Centre/Rosedale, the Junction/High Park, and South Scarborough.
 
"The initial pilot neighbourhoods are the same areas where Enbridge Gas is offering the Community Energy Conservation Program, which offers up to $2,000 in rebates and incentives for energy retrofits," Rupert says. "Also, in the pilot neighbourhoods, the city is collaborating with local groups such as SNAP [Black Creek] and Project Neutral [Riverdale-Junction] to jointly promote HELP to local homeowners."
 
According to Rupert, this is a new approach to funding for Toronto, one the City hopes it will be able to extend across the city and use for other initiatives in the future.
 
"Using local improvement charges for energy retrofits is new to Ontario and Canada. A similar financing program for hot water heaters is being rolled out in Halifax," Rupert says.

"The origin of this type of financing traces to Berkeley, California, in 2008. Various US jurisdictions have launched... programs that function similarly to HELP. How they work is municipalities/regional governments issue special bonds to raise funds for a municipal loan program that could cover renewable energy, water conservation or energy efficiency measures. The loans, including interest, are recovered via the property tax bill."
 
Maybe the best part of the whole deal is that there is no credit check to qualify for the loans. As long as you’re in the right neighbourhood, and your property taxes are up to date (and you get your mortgage-holder’s approval), you’re in. Interest rates are 2.5 per cent for five years, up to 4.25 per cent for 15 year terms.

Application forms are available at the city's website.
 
Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Rosalynd Rupert

Enerquality awards recognize green builders, renovators

It’s easy for city-dwellers to slip into the misconception that green building is an urban issue. But as the 14th annual Enerquality Awards gala in Niagara Falls has just reminded us, suburban doesn’t always mean what we think it means.

Take Sloot Construction, for instance. They’re a homebuilder in and around Guelph, and they built Ontario’s first house under the new Energy Star for New Homes Standard in April for which, among other things, they won the Building Innovation Award for "technical excellence while implementing high-performance building practices."

Or Steve Snider Construction, out of Port Perry, who started building R-2000 homes as early as 1986, and exclusively starting in the 1990s. He got the Green Renovation Project of the Year award.

"Sloot and Sniderman are standouts," says Corey McBurney, Enerquality's president. "They're the thin edge of the wedge." Because they are small operators in what McBurney calls small community housing markets (everything but the GTA), they're able to do things, like build homes to the very high R-2000 standard, that McBurney estimates are almost a decade ahead of what production builders like Mattamy Homes (which McBurney estimates builds 2,400 homes a year) can do in the GTA.

Suburbs and exurbs leading the charge? Who knew?

But Toronto wasn’t entirely left out. Empire Communities took home the big prize, Ontario Green Builder of the Year. Based in Vaughan, Empire is the developer behind Mark, Rain, Beyond the Sea, Modern, Fly, The Hub and Schoolhouse, all in the downtown core, along with projects in Markham, Mississauga, Brampton and beyond.

Enerquality, founded in 1998, is an association that runs programs described as being "designed to encourage and support developers, builders and renovators improve building performance and reduce the environmental impact of housing."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Sarah Margolius

Row 1 left to right
Doug Tarry, Doug Tarry Homes, Andy Goyda, Owens Corning, John Sloot, Sloot Construction, Jim Dunstan, Union Gas, Larry Brydon, Ozz Electric, Rick Martins, Eastforest Homes
 
Row 2 left to right
Nikki Bettinelli, Empire Communities, Michelle Vestergaard, Enbridge Gas, Paul Golini, Empire Communities, Shannon Bertuzzi, Enbridge Gas, Darlene Fraser, Eastforest Homes, Carrie Alexander, Steven Doty, Empire Communities
 
Row 3 left to right
Corey McBurney, EnerQuality, Margaret Ward, Enbridge Gas, Dorothy Stewart, Enbridge Gas, Stephen Doty, Empire Communities

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

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

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 bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.
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