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Toronto Condo Boom!

Lots of talks are happening around regarding future of condo market in Canada especially in world-clasc cities such as Toronto. The Condo market in Toronto has seen a boom in last few years due to following factors:


• Single family homes are in short supply in downtown area hence the prices for the same are sky rocketing. People are looking for more economical options and condos have proved to be the obvious, and frankly only choice.
• The demography of Canada is changing at a fast rate, the age group between 20 to 44 years, which is target market for condos is growing at faster rate compared with other metros from developed countries.
• Toronto Condominiums are a safe-haven for foreign investment and a secure place to see their money appreciate over time.
• To provide the boost to this sector, Government has adopted a policy of lower interest rates.
• The Canadian Government is keen on preserving the green land. This has led to additional floors on existing condos. Essentially, in downtown Toronto, there is no such think as a Greenfield
• Investors looked at it as a high return investments compared to capital market. Investors could get high returns as rents are high and interest rates are low.


Emotions also play an important role in any type of market and some fractions of the media has been creating a sentiment that the condos market bubble in Toronto is going to burst. On the other hand developers are assuring good returns from Condo market. Many economists have predicted that an increase in interest rates will have a negative impact on growth of condo market. However this will all depend on how the overall economy of the region is performing. A large number of employees in Canada work for financial services, Business services, Life sciences, green technology sectors. There is no reason that these sectors will see big downslide in near future. The countries like United Sates are showing good signs of growth in GDP. The Ontario merchandise export to United States has increased by almost 7-8 % in year 2011/12.

In worst case scenario the sharp increase in interest rate will reduce the demand of condos and create more default payments due to increase in EMI. As the supply will exceed demand, the prices will fall. Even if banks want to liquidate the properties, they will not have buyers who can pay mortgage amount. Hence the banking system will suffer badly. The government can’t afford to let this to happen. It will either take corrective action by reducing interest rates or by providing financial aid to the sector.

 

Condos market may see temporary drop in prices but it is going to be an investor’s hot destination on long term basis. Personally, we would like to see a lower sloped rise in Condo prices, as this will be a much more sustainable market as opposed to the exponential-seeming trend of recent prices.

The Prius Effect and Building Dashboards

Hello Everyone,

 

i just want to start this post off by congratulating everyone who has passed the LEED GA thus far from the class. Great job everyone and don’t stop there!

Today I want to talk to you about something known as THE PRIUS EFFECT. This phenomena was actually introduced to me through LEED. For a little background on the prius effect we must go back to one of the first hybrid cars, the toyota prius. The Toyota Prius innovatively interacts with the driver to make one concious of your fuel consumption.

It is very simple, as the driver sees his/her fuel consumption ($$$ Leaving their pockets) they will try to drive in a way that reduces the consumption rate. This in turn reduces the amount of money that will be spent on gas.

This effect can be duplicated inside sustainable/energy-efficient LEED buildings. By utilizing something known as a building dashboard, the occupants can see their energy consumption and make note of how their activities can reduce that consumption as well as their energy bill.

It allows occupants to check their real time energy/water consumption and even Greenhouse Gas emissions or see the trend of those aforementioned items.

Feel free to check out an exemplary one here: http://buildingdashboard.com/clients/brower/

Building Dashboards can also lead to LEED Innovation in Design credits.

Cities As Gardens: Sustainable Urbanism & LEED’s Role – Part Four

Part Four: Benefits of Appropriate Neighbourhood Pattern & Design

The neighbourhood pattern and design credit category aims to improve the internal design of the neighbourhood, as opposed to smart linkage which tries to place the neighbourhood in an appropriate external context. It advocates diverse – in use and population – dense, and walkable streets. These measures increase the liveliness of the neighbourhood by keep more people on streets and out of their cars.

The three concepts of walkability, density and diversity are intrinsically linked. Increasing density will bring out an increase in the uses of the area which in turn will bring more people on the streets increasing walkability. Shorter, tree-line and well lit city blocks will also encourage walking as it provides a more local feel to the area. A variety of functions, ranging across the economic spectrum, will make sure people are on the streets throughout the day: cafes, banks and clinics in the morning, eateries and shops in the afternoon, and bars and restaurants at the night. Other facilities such as public transit, urban agriculture, community centres and schools will also increase the community health by increasing diversity in age and socio-economic groups. If majority of one’s uses are within the neighbourhood, people will utilize cars less for day to day activities. We will no longer have to drive for 20 minutes to access the bank, grocery store, clinic or restaurant if they are only a walk away.

 

A dense, walkable street in Barcelona, Spain.

 

People tend to attract towards cities due to crowds: may it be their economic or intellectual benefit. Keeping people within their neighbourhoods crowds the streets, making them safer and more enjoyable than empty ones. Crowds’s synergistic value in successful neighbourhoods provide overall positive emotions to the user of the space. By keeping people on the streets by taking them out of their cars, not only do more people enjoy the space but the environment benefits from reduced transport usage.

 

Cities As Gardens: Sustainable Urbanism & LEED’s Role – Part Three

Part Three: Smart Location & Linkage and its Benefits for Modern Cities

Smart Location is application of mere common sense but , observing current cities, it is a principle avoided at an alarming rate. Cities of our age are exemplars of sprawl-based dwellings. The dependence on cars – and its precursor, the chase for a big home and a backyard – have led to cities moving further and further outwards with complete disregard of the dimensions of space and the environment; for some, including me, this phenomenon borderlines the absurd.

Concerning site choice, Smart Location & Linkage entails both the preservation and restoration of the natural ecosystem and proximity to mass-transit networks to reduce dependence on cars. If sites, be it for neighbourhoods or buildings, are chosen according to these principles their footprint will be drastically reduced without a single brick laid. It is about appropriateness of our project and not blatant disregard of its context.

This image shows how certain sites are more favourble due to their proximity to mass-transit and distance from pure eco-systems

This image shows how certain sites, in Seattle, WA, are favourble due to                                                                                                        their proximity to mass-transit and distance from pure eco-systems.

I paint a bleak image for their do exist fantastic examples of Smart Location. Toronto does have a positive history, though it parallely develops outwards, in building along the Yonge subway line; this should be an encouraging sign for policy makers and developers to lobby for better public transit, it boosts other industries. To further reduce car dependance, Smart Location also calls for better bicycle infrastructure – such as bike racks, proximity to lanes, in-house showers and even public bicycle networks such as BIXI.

Map showing BIXI’s – Toronto’s public bike network – locations around Downtown.

Furthermore, it outlines the development of sites near areas that have a wide range of services to reduce commute times- similar to development proposed by New Urbanism and Jane Jacobs.

The second half of Smart Location outlines conserving sensitive ecosystems and managing them as to not hamper their processes. Brownfield development – on a previously used site – is highly encouraged. Designs are encourage to conserve  wetlands – which are highly sensitive – and to manage water. It is encouraged to postulate a long term plan to manage and restore sensitive ecosystems – including wildlife and agricultural land.

Overall Smart Location has shown economic benefits too. Environment-mindedness and proximity to public transit do encourage more users of that neighbourhood. It is an achievable goal – that will prevent many long term issues – that most new neighbourhoods should adopt.

Part Four: Benefits of Appropriate Neighbourhood Pattern & Design

Cities As Gardens: Sustainable Urbanism & LEED’s Role – Part One

Part One: Why LEED-ND should exist, some background.

Cities are efficient structures in organizing human life. If you do have ten minutes to spare, I urge you to watch the video in which Professor Mark Pagel credits cities as being  catalysts of innovation and prosperity of human civilization. He lauds their energy and material efficiency: “if you broke up London into…towns with equal population, it would contribute far more pollution…cities are the green centers of humanity.”

However, this efficiency of theirs is not enough. The following infographic indicates, according to City Limits – a London resource use report, London’s ecological footprint – in blue – versus its actual size –  that tiny pink dot in the middle. The yellow shows its projected increase with current population influx trends. London’s ecological footprint is 293 times its size – nearing the size of Spain.

Along with this, what some may call absurd, resource use, other detriments include, what Pagel calls social collapse. The London riots over summer are a good example. It is when city conditions lead to a breakdown of social structure due to its inhabitants being exposed to unhealthy city environments; when neighbourhoods get “bad”. Cities, being innovation centres, have historically tackled physical issue such as walls for defence against invaders and municipal sewer systems to reduce the propogation of water-borne diseases. However in our age, issues have moved away from a physical to a more social nature.

The issue of our age in urbanism seems to be one of creating an acceptable living space: not only physically but also psychologically and socially. To create “good” neighbourhoods. Neighbourhoods that not only sustainably manage resources, but create a livable, and healthy, space for its inhabitants and users. The protocol of LEED-Neighbourhood Development (LEED-ND) exemplifies this, and tries to create a model for “healthy” neighbourhood development.

(To Be Continued)

Part Two:  Where LEED-ND got its roots – New Urbanism – and its basic criteria

GreenBuild – The Expo Hall

GreenBuild is the largest convention for any person or company even remotely related to the sustainable and ‘green’ building industry.  To put it in perspective for those who could not attend; the book which help the names of all the exhibitors was thicker than many of my textbooks.

Here is a link for you to see for yourself: http://s36.a2zinc.net/clients/usgbc2011/usgbc2011/public/Content.aspx?ID=64&sortMenu=105000

The expo hall housed Green consultants, Developers, Contractors, Engineering Firms, Architecture firms, Third Party Reviewers and was dominated by an enormous assortment of manufacturers and suppliers.

Although I was amazed by some of the technology that the suppliers were showing, I was not interested in purchasing anything in bulk. Thus, in the interest of time, I stuck to gaining knowledge on how different firms and developers had plans to be LEED and improve internal LEED training.

A few exhibitors which really made an impression on me included:

Lend Lease - www.lendlease.com

I conversed with Lend Lease`s Sustainability Manager. We discussed the internal LEED training program they had put in place. Just as major Accounting Firms internally train their employers to become Chartered Accountants, now Building/Design firms can do the same! In the past decade, Lende Lease has completed over 2500 projects, including the:

Academic Joint Use Facility

Ocean Campus, City College of San Francisco, California

 

I was also pleasantly surprised to see LEEDuser as an exhibitor at the show.

LEEDuser is a great resource for anyone in the LEED industry and has many answers to all LEED credit related questions. www.LEEDuser.com is a partner of www.building-green.com 

LEEDuser.COM

 

 

The Living Building Challenge: Oregon Sustainability Center

Hello! I’m Amanda, and I’ve recently met Lorne and hopped on board Leading Leed. I’m majoring in Infrastructural Engineering at U of T, which shouldn’t surprise you. Anyway, as Lorne promised, we’re going to talk a bit about some things that came up at the Greenbuild Conference. One of the talks was about the Oregon Sustainability Center in Portland, Oregon, which is designed to become one of the most sustainable buildings ever. I believe they just finished designing it this summer, and construction is scheduled to begin early 2012. So why Portland, Oregon? Well, Oregon’s been known for supporting green energy initiatives, and Portland was the first US city to enact a carbon emissions-reducing strategy. (You can read more on their official website.) So when organizations in the state looked to build an impressive structure that would meet the Living Building Challenge guidelines (as green a standard as you can think of) when it was released back in 2007, and found out that Portland had happened to be looking into constructing a new center for sustainability research, the two got together and created this beauty:

The first ‘Triple Net-Zero’  high-rise: all waste, water and energy is generated, utilized and recycled on site. For example, greywater (from hand-washing, for example) could be reused in toilets and to cool mechanical equipment. Features include solar panels, regenerative turbines, green roofs, and geothermal heat pumps. Read more in the executive summary. I hope I’ll get a chance to see this building some day- it’s definitely setting a new standard for sustainable infrastructure.   Cheers, A


 

 

GreenBuild – A Sustainable Conference

 

Greenbuild is, no doubt, the largest conference/expo dedicated to green and sustainable building practices in the globe. At LeadingLEED, we were fortunate enough to have it hosted in our own backyard in 2011, Toronto. Anyone remotely interested in this industry could not afford to miss such a great opportunity and see so many interesting and diverse products and services being offered in the world. There was no bias of people in the crowd, as all countries involved in green practices were properly represented at the expo.

Greenbuild reached nearly 25000 attendees. Over the next week, LeadingLEED will review our time spent at Greenbuild. From the 700 companies in the expo hall to the key note speakers and Maroon 5.

STAY TUNED AT WWW.LEADINGLEED.COM

FREE LEED CMP HOURS!!

One of the most GooGle’d terms when referring to LEED. How can I maintain my LEED accreditation or opt in for a LEED AP+ speciality at the cheapest cost (free).

There are many different articles to read, and quizzes you could take to earn these hours slowly and painfully. I came across some courses that are interesting, quick and best of all FREE! Gang Chen, showed me where to go and I have enjoyed the courses as well. Unlike some other CMP courses that you must PAY for, these courses are actually relevant and keep you informed. Feel free to check them out!

 

Daylighting Using Skylights and Curtainwall Systems

Permeable Interlocking Concrete Pavement: Part II

Green Roofs: A Sustainable Strategy 

Cool Roofing: A Solution to National Energy and Environmental Challenges

Tankless Water Heating Solutions

 

Keep visiting as I stumble upon more free CMP hours

If you know of any feel free to send them to me at info@leadingleed.com

 

 

LEED Green Associate (GA), worth it?

Subsequent to my last post, I have been receiving a lot of inquires asking WHY for the GA.

Well, for arguments sake, here is GBCI’s reason for taking the GA:

How does the LEED Green Associate help you in your career?

It is increasingly difficult to keep up with changing policies and shifting ideologies. Earning the LEED Green Associate gives you the knowledge you need to address these issues with a company and clients.

Anyway,

You all now understand WHAT THE LEED GREEN ASSOCIATE IS (if not, click here).  So, why should you do it?

In order to sit for any LEED AP exam, you must have passed (170+/200) the LEED GA exam. As previously mentioned the AP requires LEED project experience, while the LEED GA, merely requires some from of sustainable education.

A great reason to take the Green Associate is to make yourself more attractive to companies IN ORDER to hop on board a LEED project and gain that necessary experience. Once you have any documented hours on a LEED project, you are able to apply for any LEED AP exam.

I strongly recommend against just aiming for your LEED GA, and not going the one step further to work on the AP. The GA just shows that you have an idea of what LEED actually is, as well as the fundamentals behind how it works and the impacts it has. To be effective and desired in the Green Industry, a LEEP AP is required (plus you get letters after your name).

The LEED GA is also great for students who intend to jump into the green building/design industry. Students will likely be able to use a course related to the environment (GBCI is very lenient on acceptance of courses), and once the test is passed, they will already be ahead of the herd when entering the REAL WORLD.

 

If you are in the Toronto area and interested in LEED GA / AP training, please contact LeadingLEED to for information regarding our LEED training and exam prep classes.

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