The condominium market in Toronto changes with the times, and the time has come for a focus on the environment.
Today’s developers are taking environmental sustainability seriously, by incorporating energy-saving features and innovative technologies. We hear a lot about “green” building practices, as builders respond to a market of condominium purchasers who are more environmentally conscious than ever. In April, the Greater Toronto Home Builders’ Association - Urban Development Institute will present the first-ever Green Builder Of The Year award at the organization’s 27th Annual Home Builder Awards. This widespread concern is a breath of fresh air in the condominium world.
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One driving force in this trend is Canada’s LEED(r) Green Building Rating System. Several condominium developers have registered their buildings for certification from LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This relatively recent program helps architects, engineers and construction professionals to improve the efficiency of the buildings and measure their sustainability. Residential buildings can be certified only after they are built and occupied, so as many of these registered buildings take shape, we will start to see more LEED-certified condominiums in the future.
Green building practices come in many other forms, such as providing ENERGY STAR-rated appliances in condominium suites. Some builders are offering low-rise condominium townhomes, constructed to the ENERGY STAR standard, which saves owners on monthly energy costs and qualifies purchasers for CMHC’s energy-efficient mortgage loan insurance rebate and 35-year amortization. This provides a tremendous financial incentive for first-time buyers and people who have previously been unable to afford to buy a home.
Enwave Energy Corporation’s successful deep-water cooling system, that is replacing conventional air conditioning in many downtown Toronto buildings, is lowering hydro costs substantially. The Residences At The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Toronto will be cooled by this remarkable system that uses water from Lake Ontario, and through advancing technology, the process may be brought farther north. Amazing, isn’t it?
The trend toward greening is gratifying, too. Purchasers are interested in anything that will help to save the environment and improve Toronto’s urban landscape, and so are builders. Providing energy-efficient plumbing fixtures, recycling construction waste on the job site, using heat transfer technology to transfer excess heat from warmer spots in the building to cooler areas, even designing lush landscaping and urban parks into condominium neighbourhoods.
Pat Baker is CEO of Baker Real Estate Corporation, one of the world’s most respected and successful condominium sales and marketing firms.