Tag Archives: construction costs
Investing in insulation, solar panels will pay off in long run
Toronto Star – My City Blog
A lifelong environmentalist, Julia Langer is executive director of the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, an arm’s-length city agency focused on addressing climate change from a municipal angle. Previously, at World Wildlife Fund, she led various campaigns, from protecting marine turtles to banning toxic pesticides. Langer bikes all winter long (except when it’s icy), grows more tomatoes, basil and beans than her husband and daughter can keep up with, and loves paddling in Ontario’s boreal wilderness.
“Should the condo or house you buy today be a prime candidate for an energy retrofit tomorrow? The reality is that much of what we build today could be much, much more energy-efficient with only a modest increase in construction costs (offset, of course, by lower lifetime operating costs).
That’s why I tend to cringe whenever I see one of those giant construction cranes swinging another bucket of concrete skywards. What we all too rarely see is those cranes lifting state-of-the-art windows, high-performance cladding or solar panels.
Let’s give Toronto some credit. The city has used its new powers under the City of Toronto Act to pass green building standards that will require new construction to be more energy-efficient than it would be if we just stuck to the provincial building code. But let’s also raise our view a bit higher and look at what some other cities are doing. In Germany, all new homes must now be “net zero” energy users. In other words, they have to produce as much energy as they consume. The United Kingdom is on the same track, with a net zero carbon requirement coming into play by 2016.
Net zero may sound futuristic, but behind the catchy name is a lot of mundane, completely doable stuff like tight building envelopes, lots of insulation, ultra-efficient appliances and lighting.
Most Toronto highrises — even new ones — are ripe for energy efficiency upgrades, which are especially cost-effective now that the HST is going to add 8% to gas and electricity bills. Retrofits can’t achieve net zero, but can help you save some serious cash, and the planet — see www.TowerWise.ca for some great advice and tools.
There’s no reason not to build state-of-the-art buildings in our world-class city. And there are very good reasons to build high-quality, super-efficient, environmentally responsible, net zero buildings which won’t spew climate-changing pollution for the next 50-plus years.
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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