Tag Archives: energy-saving features
Technology and a new ecological consciousness are transforming the innards of some new houses
John Bentley Mays – Globe and Mail
Driving or walking along the leafy streets in the Governor’s Bridge district of Rosedale, you might never notice the house I’m writing about this week. It’s new, but it fits without a glitch into the quiet urban streetscape of similarly new, stylistically old-fashioned homes.
What counts about this 3,400-square-foot dwelling is not its architecture, which is hardly daring or inventive, but its exceptional efficiency. Using some of the most advanced energy systems now available in the marketplace, Toronto designer Richard C. Brightling has created a house that looks forward into the future of construction, when all new residences will be required to perform much better than they do now. With clients demanding greener solutions to their need for housing, and architects increasingly adept at coming up with such solutions, that future is not far off.
Energy-saving features of the Governor’s Bridge house include a high-performance building envelope that is insulated to a standard considerably beyond what is now required by city construction codes. The atmosphere inside this tight skin is kept fresh and clean by an exchanger that replaces and filters the air every four hours.
Heating and cooling is accomplished with a $70,000 geothermal system. Six fluid-carrying tubes have been sunk 200 feet into the ground, where the temperature is a steady 14.4 C. Pumped up to the surface and into a control room in the basement – this tightly packed, high-tech facility resembles what I imagine a submarine interior to look like – the fluid is then used to modify the temperature of fan-forced air. Geo-thermal energy is not free; electricity is needed to run the pumps and raise the temperature from its base level of 14.4C to something more comfortable. Nevertheless, Mr. Brightling told me, his clients’ annual savings on air conditioning come in at 30 to 40%.
Hot water for showers, dishwashing and so forth is generated by solar thermal panels installed on the roof. Glycol (which does not freeze in winter) circulates through the panels, gathering heat from the sun that, in turn, heats water in the tank. I was surprised to find that the tap water was very hot indeed – on a cool spring day, with little or no help from hydro. This $8,000 system works efficiently in our northern climate for most of the year, Mr. Brightling said, taking notable strain off the electricity grid (and hence lightening the electric bill).
Being a confirmed apartment-dweller, I don’t have a lawn, nor do I understand the North American obsession with having lawns. But if one must keep a green patch out front and back of the house, it should pull its weight, environmentally speaking. It does so here. Mr. Brightling has installed a 4,500-litre tank under the back yard of this project that effectively catches rain water running off the roofs of the main house and the garden shed and makes this water available for irrigating the lawns. This uncomplicated plumbing arrangement is an example of good ecological stewardship, especially in a city that wastes far too much water.
Back inside the house, Mr. Brightling has introduced a few other smaller features that also enhance the pleasure and sense of security in living there. There are the ceiling sprinklers, for instance – nearly invisible fixtures intended to deploy individually when the air around them reaches 100 C. And there is the lighting, equipped with low-wattage LED and halogen bulbs to further enhance the energy efficiency of the house.
These, then, are the major and minor systems at work in Mr. Brightling’s technical outfitting – some complex, others simple, all suitable for comfortable living in a sustainable, environmentally responsible manner. Nor is the cost of these green measures, as a percentage of total expenditure, really prohibitive. Of the $1.8-million it took to build the Governor’s Bridge house, only $150,000 was invested in green technologies – all of which will bring cost savings down the line.
Now, to marry such advanced thinking about the environment to contemporary good design! Like the passion for lawns, the desire for a 2010 house that looks like it was done in the 1920s escapes me. Windows were small back in those days, interiors were chopped up into small rooms, the middle of the building was always dark. To be fair, Mr. Brightling has opened up the rear of the Governor’s Bridge house to the light, but the front façade is as fusty and serious as anything in Rosedale from 80 years ago. The architectural taste of Rosedale residents, it appears, has some catching up to do, if it’s to stay abreast of the technological advances taking root in their dignified old neighbourhood.
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Condominium building benefits from eco power
By Sherry Noik-Bent, National Post
Located at Front Street and Blue Jays Way, Element was the first residential project to sign on to Enwave’s Deep Lake Water Cooling system (DLWC).
It’s the same system that’s already being used to cool concertgoers at the Air Canada Centre, workers at the TD Centre and shoppers at The Bay store on Queen Street, three of the dozen buildings currently hooked up. Another 28 buildings — Queen’s Park among them — are slated to connect by year’s end, and ano-ther four by 2008.
“I don’t know if it’s environmental consciousness or people are afraid that electricity prices are going to go up,” says Enwave president and CEO Dennis Fotinos, “but there’s this huge bandwagon effect.”
DLWC is the largest system of its kind in the world, capable of servicing a large swath of downtown Toronto. Three massive pipes extend 83 metres below the surface of Lake Ontario and extract water from its frigid depths, where the temperature is a consistent 4 C. By way of an energy-transfer station, cold-air energy is extracted and distributed to Enwave’s customers for air conditioning, while the clean, drinkable water continues on its way into the municipal supply.
It’s an exceptionally clean, green solution for an urban jungle like Toronto, where most citizens feel the lake is only good for boating, fireworks-watching and, if you’re brave, swimming.
The DLWC makes use of a renewable resource, is CFC-free, and requires 90% less electricity to operate than conventional condo cooling equipment, resulting in significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
“If you’re talking about living green, you have to talk about it in the macro perspective,” says Tridel’s environmental consultant, Jamie James. “If we can create more energy-efficient homes, we can reduce urban air pollution and we can improve the province’s ability to deliver stable electricity.”
Indeed, this method of cooling alone cuts Element’s energy consumption by about half a million kilowatt-hours per year. Aside from the obvious cost savings, the bonus for residents is that their heating and cooling will not be seasonal, as in typical condos, but rather available all year round. And, certainly, no one’s going to miss the extra noise, pollution and humidity a giant chiller would generate at the juncture of Toronto’s busy sports and entertainment districts.
“We’re now in an age where we have to look at building performance,” Mr. James adds, “because that also impacts quality of life in the city,”
To that end, in-suite energy-saving features, such as Energy Star appliances, further reduce consumption by 300,000 to 400,000 kilowatt-hours. Motion-triggered lighting in the underground garage will reap additional savings. The 354 units also have low-flow faucets and dual-flush toilets, which are expected to cut water use by at least one quarter.
Overall, the building will outperform national energy standards by about 25%, which qualifies Tridel for a $60,000 grant from Natural Resources Canada, under its Commercial Building Incentive Program (far less than the estimated half-million-dollar premium it cost to construct Element — a cost the company absorbed when the City turned down its request to build a few storeys higher than the planned 24). Of course, they could have just raised the prices of the suites, but Mr. James says it was important to the developer to keep them at market prices.
For its efforts, Element won the 2006 Green Toronto Award for energy conservation and was featured on the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet program this past spring.
Now, a second condo has just announced it will tap in to DLWC. When the 70-storey Trump International Hotel and Towers is completed at Bay and Adelaide, this symbol of luxury and excess will actually be helping reduce harmful emissions by 3,224 tonnes per year and reduce energy consumption by close to three-million kilowatt-hours — an amount comparable to the electricity used by nearly 300 homes — by cooling its residences, hotel rooms, spa, business centre and restaurants with DLWC.
Mr. Fotinos, who recently returned from an industry conference in Nashville, says Toronto is seen as “a real leader” in forward thinking and environmentally friendly energy solutions. At the same time, though he lauds his clients’ efforts at being green, he isn’t sure that’s their only — or even their most important — motivation for using DLWC. “At the end of the day,” he says, “the reason they do it is because it makes economic sense.”
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Maple Leaf Square, Canada’s only fully integrated sports and entertainment complex, is also home to one of Toronto’s fastest-selling communities. Now 95% sold, The Residences of Maple Leaf Square, a 872-suite, two-tower condominium community, captured the coveted “2006 Community of the Year” distinction from the Greater Toronto Home Builders’ Association for providing the best quality of life-enhancing aspects.
In September, The Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. (MLSE), and Lanterra Developments Ltd. hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the onset of construction.
To commemorate the occasion, Mark Mandelbaum and Barry Fenton of Lanterra, joined by Ian Clarke of MLSE and John Sullivan of Cadillac Fairview, cut into a cake that replicated the massive development. Some 800 purchasers, family members and friends were on hand for the festivities, which were emceed by Chuck Swirsky â€“ the Voice of the Raptors. Leafs and Marlies Mascots Carlton the Bear and Duke the Dog entertained guests while they sampled refreshments from hotdogs to nachos found on any given game night at Air Canada Centre right next door.
Attendees were also offered a tasting from Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc. (Longo’s), which will open a grocery store that will be ready when residents move in.
Maple Leaf Square is anchored by retail space comprised of the 47,500-sq.-ft. Longo’s grocery store; 6,000-sq.-ft. MLSE high-tech restaurant; 20,000-sq.-ft. MLSE sports bar; 9,000-sq.-ft. MLSE retail store; a 3,000-sq.-ft. MLSE broadcast studio; 2,000-sq.-ft. MLSE theatre; plus a 5,000-sq.-ft. day care centre, and boutique hotel. The complex also offers 226,355 sq. ft. of leasable office space on floors two through nine.
From Maple Leaf Square, residents will be able to walk via Toronto’s PATH system to both Air Canada Centre and Union Station. The development’s public square will be used to augment events at Air Canada Centre where they can enjoy Leafs and Raptors games, or concerts.
Designed by Kuwabara, Payne, McKenna and Blumberg (KPMB) and Page + Steele Architects, the North and South Towers of Maple Leaf Square will soar to 54 and 50 storeys respectively. Suite interiors and building amenities are by munge//leung: design associates. Amenities include the Sky Lobby Lounge; outdoor pool and landscaped Sky Deck; indoor pool and hot tub; fitness centre; steam rooms; 40-seat theatre; multi-purpose party/board room; business centre; 24-hour concierge; and an integrated Internet-based security system.
Maple Leaf Square will be a LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building, with a green roof and energy-saving features and appliances in every suite. It will also be one of the first residential condominiums to be served by EnWave, with cooling, heating and domestic hot water supply provided through steam circulating in a network of underground pipes in Toronto’s core.
Available suites range from 400-sq.-ft. studios priced from $197,900 to $201,900; to one-bedroom plus den or study from 552 to 607 sq. ft. from $262,900 to $298,900; two-bedroom suites from 825 to 1,235 sq. ft. from $371,900 to $675,900; two-bedroom plus study suites at 1,016 sq. ft. from $473,900 to $485,900; and penthouses from 1,240 to 2,124 sq. ft. from $716,900 to $1,346,900.
Maintenance fees are estimated at $0.45 per sq. ft., excluding hydro and the EnWave heating/cooling system, which is individually metered. First occupancies in the North Tower are slated for October 2009, and South Tower occupancies are slated for March 2010.
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