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Greenbuild NEXT 2011

by Kristen L. Victor, LEED AP

As LEED and green building practices shift from margin to mainstream, USGBC’s GreenBuild is coming of age and claiming new ground. We traveled to Toronto Canada,  host city  to the first GreenBuild ever outside the United States and experienced LEED at the international level.  With growing influence, responsibility, and evolution of the green marketplace, United States Green Building Council is developing new programs and services to support international needs.

GreenBuild 2011 provided an opportunity to experience Canada’s approach to green building.  CaGBC (Canada Green Building Council) explores new directions, including the mainstream of green, including changes in LEED delivery and certification internationally.   Smart Growth BC focuses on sustainable communities and smart growth with the National Resources Defense Council, combining green building and community development.

Thomas Friedman, an internationally known author, reporter,  columnist and GreenBuild 2011’s featured keynote speaker, discussed the five mega-problems today’s world is facing:  energy and natural resource supply and demand, petrodictatorship, climate change, energy poverty and biodiversity loss.  Friedman strongly believes we need to act collectively to sustain our values relating to the environment, relationships and finances.

John Picard, the closing plenary keynote speaker, spoke to  increasing energy and water literacy, resiliency in design, data, data, data.  the scale of transformation and "winning the bid to do what is right".  Picard, as he visualizes the future, discussed the opportunities to create “I Buildings” which Steve Jobs envisioned and planned for our future.

With over 800 exhibitors, the expo floor never fails to provide a place and opportunity for new innovations and technologies to be showcased, among the mature, market dominant products.  Sustainability Matters and our aligned partners featured energy and water efficiency technologies at GreenBuild 2011 Expo, including AquaCell, CiraLight , and Phase Change Energy Solutions (receiving Top 10 innovative technology of GreenBuild 2011).

GreenBuild 2011 was a gathering of like-minded colleagues, incredible innovators, global leaders, electricfying visionaries, and fabulous friends who engage one another,  share knowledge and experience having interrelated objectives of providing a sustainable future of our globe.  The community that has developed, surrounding GreenBuild over the past ten years is undoubtfully leading the way to our sustainable future.  The vibrant energy surrounded by education, technology and visionary foresight continues to take GreenBuild to new levels year after year as we continue to raise the bar and ask oursleves   “What is Next?"

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GreenBuild 2011 Revitalization Urban Sites Tour

by Kristen L. Victor, LEED AP

GreenBuild 2011 provided many exciting educational opportunities throughout the week, including an all day tour, Toronto Revitalization, A New Life Celebrating an Industrial Past, guided by architect Joe Lobko of DTAH.  Lobko, lead architect, shared the collective process of creating successful urban revitalizations on the visited projects:   Wychwood Barns, Evergreen Brickyard and The Distillery.   The first two projects involved  collaborations with public, private, non-profit and community, based on participation and funding. The latter project, a privatly owned development, engaged the public and community sector to  support the development of a former designated BrownField site.  Collectively, the main focus on all three projects included adaptive reuse and revitalization of existing communities and buildings.  

Artscape Wychwood Barns , is an early 20th century TTC streetcar repair and maintenance facility, redesigned into a mixed-use centre for art and environmental organizations.  The community based development consists of 26 live/work housing units, 15 work studios for local artists, a series of community spaces for arts and environmental groups, a greenhouse and sheltered garden, all adjacent to a newly developed park by the City of Toronto.

The Wychwood Barns projects consists of five barns totals:  Studio Barn, Covered Street Barn, Community Barn, The Green Barn - Community Food Centre and the Fifth Barn - Porch to The Park. The oldest barn, built in 1913, has been converted into a covered street  providing access through the facility as well as a place for markets and events such as exhibitions and large public gatherings.

The project incorportes several sustainable strategies including a Geothermal system heating and cooling the entire facility, a white roof  capturing water for all toilet and irrigation use,  reused and recycled materials throughout, insulation technologies providing energy usage reduction and rooftop photo voltaic for renewable energy production.  Supporting the local transit system and encouragement of  walking and biking, this project has no onsite parking.

Evergreen Brickworks , a late 1800’s quarry with rich clay and on-site brick manufacturing.  In the early 1900’s

Downtown Toronto was destroyed by fire with wood being outlawed in the built industry, creating a surge in the brick industry.  Once the quarry was depleted, the brick yard was abandoned for many decades, becoming the backwater for urban explorers, including photographers and graffiti artists. 

Evergreen stepped in to create a natural park land in the deep quarry and began work with the government to educate and support natural growth.  The land ultimately became designated as a non-profit, entrepreneurial development land and a master plan began.

The objectives of the adaptive reuse master plan included healing the site,  opening green spaces, reintroduction of water and connecting public access to all spaces.  This included a $55 million overall, $35 million spent on construction and  2 year completion timetable.  Evergreen Brickworks revitalization, well known as a research project, today hosts global environmental conferences and successfully adjusted behavioral expectations while gaining a strategic investment on the usage of the completed project.

The final site visit  of our day was  The Distillery Project, a Private/Public Venture.  The Distillery,  built in 1859, became the largest distillery in the world at the turn of the century.  The once abandoned site is 40 acres with an adjacent undeveloped parcel of 80 acres.  The vision of this project was pushed by the local community and became part of the Water Front Revitalization Reform, including 6000 housing units, 1 million square feet of business space and a 20 acre park area, being the largest redevelopment site in Canada.

The owner/developer acted quickly, striving for success and created an extraordinary community, increasing value into the residential, hospitality and retail spaces.  Woven through this community is culture in many different forms:  art, park, theatre, music, food, drinks and event venues, all shapes supporting both the historical and current culture of downtown Toronto.  To ensure success in this urban revitalization, different architects designed specific areas with the owner/developer accepting nothing but outstanding work.  The Distillery culture is supported by unique, local businesses exuding character and charm, not giving way to national brands.As the tour ended, I met  friends and enjoyied the evening with food, surrounded by theatre and arts The Distillery offers.  

Reflecting on the entire day;  beginning in a vibrant community space filled with hundreds of neighbors and visitors, enjoying the many offerings of the Wychwood Barns;  enjoying early afternoon  lunch at a vast outdoor market under the 1800’s structure of a brick foundry, wandering the open green spaces and park land, hearing water falling in the distance,  I carry with me  the wisdom, experience and vision of Joe Lobko, as he shared the process of adaptive reuse and revitalization of existing sites.   Wychwood Barns, Evergreen Brickworks and The Distillery,  each embrace their unique history, character, and culture, redefined to support local communities in a holistic approach, all exuding environmental and economic success. 

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