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Real estate conference explores carbon reduction & urbanization

Toronto Atmospheric Fund helped finance the retrofit of a tower on Kendleton Drive

With buildings accounting for about 50 per cent of the GTA's greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the efficiency of our built form is the easiest and cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions.
At next month’s Land and Development Conference, attended by some of the city’s most high-profile owners, developers, investors, and lenders, two sessions will spotlight the relationship between urbanism and the environment.
“It’s fantastic that they’re now including this perspective on climate change and the role that the building and real-estate sector have in advancing a low-carbon economy, and looking at the challenges and opportunities for the sector,” says Julia Langer, CEO of Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF), who will be leading a session on how cities can reduce their dependence on water and other resources, while improving health, biodiversity and waste management.
There’s certainly a stereotype that developers care only about maximizing profit on any given piece of real estate, properties that show well to prospective buyers—floor to ceiling windows, for example—even if they are not the best for the environment. But Langer says the industry has been improving, as has consumer awareness of the need for sustainable buildings. “There’s attention through the LEED program, through green features. People prefer well-built buildings if they’re sold that way,” she says. “What hasn’t improved as much is attention to de-carbonization. We’re getting more bells and whistles than getting fundamentally to net zero in new construction. Of course, most of the buildings that will exist in 2050 already exist now, so the retrofit agenda really has to be accelerated.”
Through its Green Condo Loan program, TAF has helped developers like Tridel, M5V and Ottawa’s Windmill build projects that perform much better than building codes when it comes to energy efficiency; costs can be recovered through the condo corporation when they find they are paying much lower energy and water bills.  
The Land and Development Conferences starts Monday, May 9.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Julia Langer
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