Tag Archives: Natural Resources Canada
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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Mary Teresa Bitti, National Post
Karla Congson, owner of a drafty, century-old Leaside home in Toronto knew the furnace and central air needed to be updated, and figured the windows — still original — would have to be replaced. Marie Sullivan did not expect she’d be making home improvements to her six-year-old Upper Beaches home, but “my house was so cold all the time and some windows already had condensation.”
Before going forward, both women decided to take advantage of NRCan’s (NRC) ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes initiative and its accompanying financial incentives. The goal of the program is to help homeowners improve energy efficiency and, in the process, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the comfort of their homes while spending less on heating and cooling.
To take advantage of the program, homeowners must first receive a pre-retrofit evaluation of their home by an energy advisor certified by NRC. The advisor will conduct an evaluation on the entire home, basement to attic, conduct a blower door test to find air leaks and generate a report indicating which energy upgrades would yield savings. The energy audit will take between two and three hours.
“They will look at insulation levels, quality of windows and doors, heating systems for space or hot water, for example,” says Suzanne Deschénes, acting deputy director operations, housing division, Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada.
“The homeowner then has up to 18 months to undertake as many retrofits as they are interested in performing. They get a second assessment after the work has been done, at which time the paperwork for our grant is completed and sent to NRC as well as the Province of Ontario, which will then match our incentives. It’s one-stop shopping for the homeowner. The assessor will take care of all that and the homeowner gets the cheque.”
In total, the combined pre- and post-retrofit assessments cost between $450 and $475, with the province paying up to $150 for the pre-retrofit assessment. In addition to the NRC incentives — $650 when you install an Energy Star-qualified gas furnace that has a 94% annual fuel utilization efficiency or higher and a brushless DC motor; up to $1,250 to beef up basement insulation by more than R23, for example — which are then matched by the province, the federal government’s new home improvement tax credit could result in another $1,350 in savings for improvements made before Dec. 31, 2009. Keep those receipts.
Ms. Congson is doing just that. Her energy audit revealed that her home had the equivalent of a three-foot hole and the major heat loss came from cracks around the baseboards and mouldings around the windows — not the windows themselves, as she expected.
In addition to a high-efficiency furnace, she also decided to invest in a tankless water heater and has just chosen a vendor for a solar water heating system.
The cost of her improvements is $14,000; she will get back about $6,000 in federal, provincial and municipal rebates. And she is anticipating lower energy bills and a smaller environmental footprint.
To find a list of NRC certified energy advisors, click here.
Top 5 home tips
Green$aver is a non-profit organization and one of NRCan’s certified energy advisors. It also provides draft proofing and insulation retrofits. Here are Green$aver’s top five improvements to make houses more comfortable and energy efficient:
1) Air sealing/draft proofing. Think weather stripping and caulking — this can save a lot of air leakage in your home. It is also one of the most cost-effective energy-saving measures you can implement.
2) Beef up your insulation. This does not have to involve tearing down walls. Blown in cellulose, for example, is an easier alternative.
3) Upgrade old appliance to Energy Star-qualified appliances.
4) Improve space heating with a high efficiency furnace.
5) Deal with leaky windows and doors.
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