Few changes have impacted the burgeoning Greater Toronto Area in recent years as much as new commercial and residential development that has stretched outwards in the suburbs and upwards in the core. With our climate increasingly tending to extremes, the relationship between development and the environment is studied more than ever. Sustainable design has come to the forefront for architects, engineers and industry professionals, so it should come as no surprise that the related professions banded together—literally—last week to raise awareness about Earth Week and to get more trees planted. It just may be a surprise just how much they rocked out to do it.

Smith + Andersen Eco Jam, aA, B+H, Diamond Schmitt, HOK, IBI, WZMH, ZeidlerArchitects and engineers come together to jam for Earth Week, image by rockphoto/nic pouliot

On April 18, architects, engineers, developers, contractors and environmentalists gathered at the            Courthouse Nightclub on Adelaide Street East to live out their rock-star fantasies while giving back to the planet. The Eco Jam, hosted by engineering firm Smith + Andersen, gave talent from some of Toronto’s most respected architectural firms the opportunity to rock out while raising funds to help Trees Ontario plant more trees across the province.

Smith + Andersen Eco Jam, aA, B+H, Diamond Schmitt, HOK, IBI, WZMH, ZeidlerMatthew Lella of Diamond Schmitt Architects performing live at The Courthouse, image by rockphoto/nic pouliot

Over 400 guests attended the benefit, which featured performances by over 30 industry performers from some of the country’s best architect and engineer-led bands, backed by professional blues jam band, Cadre. Performers at the event included architects from architectsAlliance, B+H Architects, Diamond Schmitt Architects, HOK, IBI Group, Perkins Eastman, Perkins + Will, WZMH and Zeidler Partnership Architects.

Smith + Andersen Eco Jam, aA, B+H, Diamond Schmitt, HOK, IBI, WZMH, ZeidlerDanny Deluca (formerly with HOK) on drums with Doug MacMillan of Perkins Eastman on keyboard, image by rockphoto/nic pouliot

In addition to funds raised by drink ticket sales, attendees could also make a donation to Trees Ontario, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the cause of re-greening of Ontario through tree planting efforts on rural lands and in urban areas. To address the cold reality that planting levels have decreased by 90 per cent since the 1980s, Trees Ontario works with agencies across the province with the goal of increasing planting from 2 to 10 million trees per year. Since 2004, Trees Ontario has planted almost 16 million trees.

Smith + Andersen Eco Jam, aA, B+H, Diamond Schmitt, HOK, IBI, WZMH, ZeidlerShawn Pascoa, Keith Butler, Dustin Su and Ben Bismonte of Smith + Andersen, image by rockphoto/nic pouliot

Though Earth Week has just finished up for 2013, work to rejuvenate our city’s urban green spaces will continue throughout the spring and summer. Ward 13 Councillor Sarah Doucette, Ward 41 Councillor Chin Lee and City of Toronto staff will be joined by more than 1,000 volunteers this weekend to plant over 1,600 native trees and shrubs in Milliken Park for the annual City of Toronto's tree and shrub planting event, Trees Across Toronto. Plantings will be conducted on Saturday morning at Milliken Park in Scarborough as well as Windfields Park in North York.