Tag Archives: Canada Green Building Council
Group provides framework to manage growth in St. Lawrence community
Excerpt of an article by W.D. Lighthall – Toronto Star
Facing a growing list of condo buildings planned within their community, members of the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood Association decided to get a whole lot smarter about dealing with new development.
The residents’ association for the downtown Toronto neighbourhood teamed up with Eneract, which works to promote renewable energy and sustainability initiatives.
Together, the two organizations created something called smartliving St. Lawrence, a broad-based framework for managing new development in the community.
But more than that, smartliving St. Lawrence is also a means for delivering energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable initiatives to those already living and working in the neighbourhood.
“The decisions we make today â€” and this is right up front in smart living â€” should be based in large measure on the kind of world we want to leave our kids and grandchildren,” says Cameron Miller, president of the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood Association.
Within those boundaries, at least nine mid-rise or highrise condo projects are selling or planned.
Already existing in the area are 36 condominium buildings, 12 housing co-ops and a half dozen socially assisted housing complexes.
Miller says more condo developments â€” many more, in fact â€” are expected to follow those currently underway.
Work on smartliving St. Lawrence began in spring 2004, when Miller says his association came to the realization that a more comprehensive approach was needed.
To do that, the neighbourhood association obtained funding to develop smartliving St. Lawrence, including a $113,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and an $80,000 grant from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund.
Economically, smartliving St. Lawrence (http://www.smartliving.ca/) means supporting local businesses and employers and developing job-growth strategies.Under the environmental component, smartliving will offer condo boards, building managers and area residents and businesses seminars on subjects such as retrofitting older buildings and reducing energy use.
“What we’re doing with the smartliving St. Lawrence program, we’re creating a template for other communities to adopt,” says Marans.Although the St. Lawrence Market design guidelines aren’t mandatory for developers planning condos in the area, they have been approved by city council and will be part of the discussion during the community consultation process.
Aspen Ridge Homes is planning to redevelop the old Goodwill site, which extends from George to Jarvis Sts. and from Adelaide to Richmond Sts.The VU plan includes about 500 condo units, in two highrise towers rising from a low-rise podium.
The Canada Green Building Council reports that, for mid-rise and highrise condo buildings, achieving basic-level LEED status adds 1 to 3% to construction costs. (Some in the building industry say that’s a conservative estimate.)In the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, Context has built the Mozo condominium, has the 45-storey Spire under construction, and is planning a third project in the area.
“The St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood was a pioneer in urban regeneration. It makes sense that they would embrace forward thinking as far as new development in the community and in retrofitting” older buildings, says Poplak.
Su Cadogan, who has lived for the past 26 years in a housing co-op in St. Lawrence Market, says the neighbourhood needs smart living.
Many of the area’s older condo and co-op buildings are reaching an age where they require mechanical retrofits or other upgrades, notes Cadogan.
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Ryan Starr – Toronto Star
Standing in the courtyard of MintoMidtown, Andrew Pride beams with delight as he lists off the property’s various green design elements.
The vice-president of Minto’s “green team” notes the LED exterior lighting, which provides ample illumination but uses minimal energy.
He directs his visitor’s attention to chairs made from recycled steel, and to a rainwater-fed fountain with wind sensors that ensure the water doesn’t blow all over passersby in the event of a sudden gust.
Pride points out that the limestone used throughout the courtyard is locally sourced, which cut down on transportation-related emissions.
“The courtyard is a great gathering place,” he says of the two-tower highrise condo on Yonge St. just south of Eglinton Ave. “It’s the heart of this sustainable community.”
The green courtyard helped Midtown in June become the largest condo in North America to be certified LEED Gold.
Midtown’s 891 units boast the latest in energy efficiency, including compact fluorescent lighting, Energy Star appliances and low-emission paints and carpeting.
Each condo is also equipped with heat recovery ventilators, which pipe in fresh outside air, remove stale air and save energy.
For Pride and his team, Midtown’s LEED Gold certification represents the culmination of a forward-thinking strategy that has put the company in the vanguard of Toronto’s green building industry
Minto currently has three LEED-certified highrises in Toronto, comprising more than 1,400 units; three more are slated to open in 2010.
“Building a code home today is building obsolescence into a home,” says Pride, who also sits on the executive committee of the Canada Green Building Council. “We have to be ready for the future.”
Leaders in eco thinking
Pride, who worked for years as an energy services consultant, joined Minto in 1999 with a mandate to drive the company’s green agenda.
“They were doing environmentally friendly things already,” he explains, “but they wanted me to put a team together and really attack our buildings.”
This was years before the green building revolution, and Pride was impressed by Minto’s progressive approach.
“I had been trying to sell (green building) for over a decade, trying to get existing buildings focused on it,” he says.
Pride went on to launch Minto’s Green Team, a dedicated division tasked with crafting the company’s sustainable building strategy.
To sell buyers on the idea of green building, Minto’s initial strategy put a stronger emphasis on the health benefits of the condos over energy savings.
“Today energy savings tend to be a bit more relevant,” Pride says. “People still want those health benefits, but it’s very much about value now.”
In 2004, following the advent of the LEED certification system for highrises, Minto committed to making all of its buildings meet that standard of sustainability.
Radiance@Minto Gardens, a 34-storey tower at Yonge St. and Sheppard Ave., was the first LEED-certified condo in Canada.
Completed in 2006, the 378-unit building became the testing grounds for an innovative technology now found in all Minto construction: heat recovery ventilators that bring filtered fresh air into the suites (versus the usual stale corridor air).
“Air quality is really poor in highrise buildings,” Pride says. “We wanted to create a healthier living environment.”
The condo also became the first in Minto’s portfolio to have water sub-meters in each unit.
“We put the cost of water into the hands of those who use it,” says Pride, noting this led to a 55 per cent reduction in overall water consumption.
The company’s next development, MintoRoehampton, a rental building at Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave., was the first multi-family building in Canada to achieve LEED Gold.
Roehampton, finished in 2007, was the company’s guinea pig for the harvesting of rainwater for use in landscaping and public toilets.
Rainwater harvesting, once illegal, is now included in the Toronto Green Standard, and Pride says Roehampton helped make the case for it. Roehampton also has a triple waste-stream system, which filters garbage, recycling and organics separately.
“Eventually the city is going to charge for garbage, and it’s a huge building,” Pride says. “So why wouldn’t we make recycling easy for people?”
Minto’s next condo project, Midtown, incorporated all of its predecessors’ innovations and added some new ones.
The building has motion-sensor stairwell lighting that can reduce consumption to less than 200 hours a year.
Each suite comes with “all-off” controls that allow all fixed lighting to be turned off with the flick of a switch and turn down the thermostat to an energy-savings setting.
Dual flush toilets are standard at MintoMidtown, helping reduce water consumption by 32 per cent.
What’s more, 50 per cent of the materials used in the condo’s construction were extracted and produced locally, Pride says.
This plethora of green features earned MintoMidtown the LEED Gold certification earlier this year.
“We are delighted to see multiple-unit residential buildings achieving this landmark,” says Mark Hutchinson, director of green building for the Canada Green Building Council.
“Hundreds of people will enjoy a healthier environment in their homes as a result, and the environment will benefit from the building’s reduced footprint.
“Midtown is a great example of what can be achieved.”
Pride adds Minto offers a bike-share program at Midtown, providing free bicycles for its residents.
Minto has several more buildings lined up for LEED certification in 2010: mintoSkyy, at Broadview Ave. and Pottery Rd.; Spring, the sister building to Radiance@Minto Gardens; and Richgrove Village, a four-storey project in Etobicoke.
The company is greening single-family homes, as well.
In Ottawa, Minto has built a net-zero “eco-home,” which runs on solar power and produces as much energy as it consumes.
The demonstration home, named “Inspiration — the Minto ecohome,” is part of the EQulibrium housing initiative, a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. pilot project that will guide the creation of a development of net-zero homes.
Inspiration – which Minto calls “Canada’s greenest home” – has achieved LEED for Homes Platinum, the highest level of certification possible.
Built from mainly recycled and renewable materials, the eco-home uses rainwater harvesting, has double insulated walls, triple pane windows and a natural ventilation system that eliminates the need for air conditioning.
Anticipating the market
As the green revolution sweeps the home-building industry, Minto’s forward-thinking approach has put the company in a strong leadership position.
“Successful businesses anticipate where the market’s going to be,” says Peter Love, president of Love Energy Consultants and Ontario’s first chief energy conservation officer.
“Minto has concluded that people are interested in a more energy-efficient home and that the demand is growing, that it’s going to be major.”
Pride’s not bashful when it comes to taking credit for helping push the local industry to be greener.
“We knew green was coming,” he says. “By doing all the homework we’ve done over the last 10 years, we’ve been able to deliver a product that’s right on mark with what our customers want.
“For us, green is prosperous.”
LEEDing the way
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a third-party certification program for green buildings.
LEED ratings focus on a building’s performance in five areas: sustainable site development, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality
Certification is based on the total point score achieved, following an independent review and an audit of selected credits. There are four possible levels of certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum.
For more information: www.cagbc.org/leed/what/index.php
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