Tag Archives: environmental design
Ian Harvey – Toronto Star
Building green condominiums from the ground up could cut natural gas costs by 50%, a long-term experiment with two nearly identical Tridel buildings in Etobicoke has discovered.
Based on these results and other studies in progress, the condo of the not-so-distant future may become so energy efficient that it may not need to hook up to a natural gas supply, slashing costs.
The results are spectacular and now provide a baseline for all developers to move forward with more innovative designs, which will serve buyers’ demands and set the standard for energy conservation in highrise buildings.
The pair of Etobicoke buildings in the study were on the boards around 2004 and were to be completed in 2006 and 2008.
One however, was fitted with a slew of energy-efficient features and built to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standard, along with sensors to monitor energy use. The other building was completed to meet design standards of the day.
Three years after occupancy, two years of data from the buildings were analyzed and compared.
The experiment came about when the perfect convergence of interest, curiosity and funding allowed a partnership of Tridel, the city’s Toronto Atmospheric Fund and a start-up venture, TowerLabs, to investigate an apples-to-apples comparison of energy consumption in almost identical buildings at the same location.
It was a rare opportunity to get real data in real time, since such calculations are usually estimates based on theoretical models.
The tale of the tape showed that in the upgraded building there was a 50% decrease in natural gas use, a 6% drop in electricity and a reduction of 550 tonnes in annual greenhouse gas emissions compared with the standard building.
In hard dollars, that’s a $125,000-a-year saving, said Jamie James, president of TowerLabs, noting the savings are crucial to winning both developer and buyer acceptance.
“This is a constant process for us and why we are involved with TowerLabs,” says Jim Ritchie, Tridel’s vice-president of marketing and sales. “The feedback we get from all these things allows us to learn a little bit more and move forward with design on all our products.”
Tridel agreed to the project because the extra cost would be financed through the city’s Green Condo Loan of about $500,000, which the assuming condo corporation took over and is paying off through energy savings. The study found that the loan will be paid back by the energy savings in about seven years.
The financing was integral to the project because it removed the risk from the equation for Tridel, but more importantly the industry now has a set of hard numbers to prove the benefits of energy-efficient design.
Ritchie said the lessons from this and other projects will allow Tridel to tailor building design much more effectively. It knows, for example, that the added cost of higher-efficiency boilers and individual energy-recovery ventilation systems in each unit translates directly into lower energy costs for homeowners and savings over the long run.
Since the condos were built, James said, the city has introduced the Toronto Green Standard (TGS), which means all towers must meet the efficiency standards of the building in the study.
The quest now is to push the envelope further, says Bryan Purcell, manager for incubation and social innovation at the Toronto Atmospheric Fund.
“There is a building under construction now that has no gas connection at all,” Purcell said. Instead it will use geothermal energy, literally extracting heat from the ground below in winter and drawing its cooling power in summer.
The hope, he said, is to create buildings at least 25% to 35% more efficient than demanded by the current code.
Other innovations including advanced building design and management software, which can predict a building’s energy consumption according to how it is oriented to the sun’s path and its exposure to wind.
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416-388-1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.
Christopher Hume – Toronto Star
When a city has to decide what it wants — past or future — the answer is obvious: both.
For decades, it has been simpler just to tear down anything that stood in the way. Starting in the 1950s, modernism’s glory years, we demolished our history with gleeful abandon. Architectural heritage, no matter how significant, paled in comparison to the brilliance that lay ahead.
Things didn’t turn out quite as expected, and while the rush to the future slows, the value of the past becomes ever harder to ignore. And we’re not just talking about aesthetics, though God knows, the 19th century was eons ahead of the 21st in its understanding of urban architecture. It turns out that even the lowliest industrial structures — warehouses, factories, bakeries — are paragons of flexibility. Used and reused, they have enabled the revitalization of much of downtown Toronto, especially the Entertainment District.
Think of the area along Peter St. between Queen and Richmond Sts. Like much of the city’s lower west end, this is a neighbourhood that once was grimy and industrial. Nowadays, it is anything but; many of those magnificent brick buildings where workers once toiled are now remade as offices, lofts, shops, restaurants and bars — but much remains to be done to realize their full potential.
“These old structures are excellent,” says Toronto architect Dermot Sweeny, “but all the other systems are junk.” That includes air-conditioning, heating, wiring, the sort of internal infrastructure we generally take for granted. At the same time, the quality of 19th- and early 20th-century architecture and construction are superior in every other way to contemporary stuff.
Although there’s endless demand for corporate office space in the core, many businesses want something other than standard-issue highrise quarters. After all, not every outfit is a bank, a financial institution or an insurance company. Other more “creative” companies actually prefer the character of older spaces with their masonry walls, wooden beams, high ceilings and wide plank floors. These structures have the handmade look of an earlier era, something that stands in stark contrast to the out-of-the-catalogue design of more recently constructed buildings.
“The demand for this sort of office space is unlimited,” insists Michael Emory, president and CEO of Allied Properties, a Toronto-based real-estate firm that renovates and rents former industrial structures. “These old buildings present an extraordinarily compelling case for our clients.”
Emory’s current focus is a trio of early 20th-century heaps on the northwest corner of Richmond and Peter, one of which once served as a Weston bakery. Though the three buildings sit beside each another, there’s plenty of space around them, space that could be reorganized to add density to the area.
“Everything between the buildings sits empty,” says Sweeney, whose firm, Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co., includes Allied as a client. “The old factory district does not have the density to sustain a good mix of uses.”
His answer is to fill in these in-between spaces and put an addition on top of the largest of the structures — the bakery — thus preserving the original buildings intact and helping to create the kind of critical mass of jobs and people needed to keep the city healthy. Sweeny envisions an 11-storey vertical glass extension perched above the red-brick box at 134 Peter St. The addition reaches west of its host building to become the top of an atrium carved out of what’s now empty space.
“The new building starts 75 feet up in the air,” Sweeny explains, “well above the two existing buildings below. We’ve discovered that one of the issues is the need to make better use of these great old buildings and the land around them. In this project, there’s about half an acre of empty land currently used for parking. The question for us is how to charge residual space with new life. The void between buildings is often as important as buildings themselves.”
Sweeny refers to the “Two Kings,” an innovative program initiated by the old City of Toronto that eliminated traditional land-use rules at King and Parliament and King and Bathurst. Both locations experienced a boom that led to the renovation of up to four million square feet of old industrial space.
“The net result,” says Sweeny, “was affordable and interesting space for companies looking for an alternative to the standard office building — and at a reasonable cost. The strategy worked well; the buildings are full.”
He also points out that these interventions can be designed to maximize the green potential of the complex-to-be. That will mean energy reductions of 50 to 60%.
And as Emory notes, “I don’t think you can build new office space today without LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. You’d be a fool to try. It’s a new best practice you can’t ignore.”
Of course, this project will win points simply by incorporating existing structures; the energy embedded in these old buildings and others is enough to propel Toronto well into the future — and keep the city connected to its past. That’s the civic version of having your cake and eating it, too.