Toronto

The Planet Traveler Hostel Addition | 20m | 5s | SUMO

rdaner

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 25, 2007
Messages
1,201
Reaction score
235
The building of a green hotel

TOM RAND

Globe and Mail Update

April 25, 2008 at 9:07 AM EDT

Who we are, and what we're doing

See this beat-up, abandoned building? It has sat, derelict, on College St. in Toronto for more than a decade.

Believe it or not, it will soon be a cutting-edge 'green' hotel, with a total carbon output that is tiny fraction of business-as-usual — no green-wash here! We're aiming for an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from business-as-usual, and we're going to save money getting there. Follow me as I take you through that transformation, one step at a time, one permit at a time, and one technology at a time. What we're doing — anyone can do!

My partner on the project, Anthony Aarts, is the General Contractor and the person who is going to make it all happen on the ground. Anthony will also be keeping a careful eye on the budget. If one of my green proposals doesn't make sound business sense, if it seems like it's a sacrifice unwarranted from a financial perspective, that proposal is dead.
greenhotel
The Globe and Mail

All of our energy-saving technologies are designed to pay for themselves in reduced operating costs. Although a secondary benefit is the enhanced branding of being a 'green' hotel, I really don't want to focus on that — there is already enough 'greenwash' out there, and I'm just not interested in playing up or advocating that particular game.

The point we're trying to prove is the following:

Any building going through extensive renovations, or being built from scratch, can reduce their emissions from a business-as-usual scenario by 70-80%, and can achieve those reductions based on economic arguments alone.

In the coming weeks, I will describe a number carbon-reducing technologies, and keep you up to date with progress on the drama of the renovations and our Permit applications with the City.

Who are we?

My name is Tom Rand, and I used to be a software entrepreneur — I founded Voice Courier Inc. (VCi), a Canadian-based communications software company, in 1999, and oversaw its expansion to 100 employees in three countries, with revenue in excess of $20 million a year. I sold that company and some related businesses in May, 2005. I now run a venture fund dedicated to early-stage emission reduction technology.

I have a B.A.Sc. in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo (Canada), an M.Sc. in philosophy of science from the London School of Economics (England), and an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Toronto (Canada) where I am soon to defend a PhD.

I'm also currently an Action Canada Fellow (www.actioncanada.ca) where, along with my team, I'm prodding the federal government to adopt a policy we call the Canadian Green Bond (www.greenbonds.ca) ; a government-backed financial instrument designed to engage the public by raising capital to accelerate renewable energy production.

My partner Anthony Aarts, has been in real estate development for years, mainly around Toronto's Kensington area - and he's the one that has the pragmatic and architectural vision to bring the building's structure back to life as a beautiful hotel, on time and on budget. He is working between shifts on his MBA.

What's My Motivation?

So, what's a guy to do who's terrified of the earth's potential heat-death, speaks science and business, and has a few bucks in the bank? Start a green venture fund, of course!! VCi Green Funds (www.vcigreenfunds.com) is my attempt to 'get on the ice' in our climate battle: it's a small, private fund designed to provide seed capital to technologies that can reduce our carbon output. This particular project is designed to teach me about the real estate sector — what we can do, what technologies are viable — and help me inform others about what I learn.

Climate change may scare the bejeezus out of me, but as an entrepreneur, I also see a lot of opportunity. As the need to seriously constrain carbon becomes more apparent, those who can fulfill the constraining will profit, and those whose energy use is carbon-intensive will lose.

Make no mistake - I'm under no illusion that a bunch of entrepreneurs is going to step up and solve our climate crisis, although we have our role to play. Consider three points.

First - isn't it our voracious economic expansion that is itself fuelling this fire? I'm not the one to start that revolution (perhaps George Monbiot is better suited to that task? See his considered positions at www.monbiot.com ).

Second — I may be able to prove a point within the real estate sector — but profligate and cheap energy use is so endemic to our economic engine, that some pretty fundamental changes need to be made in the way that engine is run, changes way beyond what self-interested entrepreneurs like myself are capable of producing. At a minimum, a clear economy-wide signal for the price of carbon emissions is required. Even to hit the stated government target of 65-70% reductions in GHG emissions by 2050 — a target that is not strong enough, in my view (again, see Monbiot) — that price would need to hit the $270/tonne range, according to out best and brightest at the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (http://www.nrtee-trnee.ca ). High oil prices may help, but without a price on carbon, we'll just switch to coal and up the ante in the tar sands. Not very wise moves.

Third — a co-ordinated global effort is required, so that strong a economic signal on GHG emissions in one portion of the world don't result in a 'race-to-the-bottom', in which energy-intensive industry simply moves to the jurisdictions in which GHG emissions are free.

Still, this is not reason to sit on my butt and do nothing. Entrepreneurs — and big business — will play a key role in the battle against carbon and this little project is a part of my contribution. If others pick up on what I'm doing, so much the better — like the commercial said, "and they told two friends, and they told two friends ..." ... soon every building in Canada will be operating on the same principles!

So - What's the Project?

Planet Traveler will be a 21-room hostel/hotel for young people. The 7,500-square-foot building, originally built in the early 1900s, is located on College Street in Toronto, Canada, near the Kensington Market. It was abandoned 10 years ago. Since then, the roof has collapsed, and there's extensive water and fire damage throughout.

Anthony Aarts and I bought the building in November, 2006. I was in Paris writing my thesis, so Anthony and I danced on the phone during what was a quite intense bidding war on the building. I had hoped the state of the building (no roof!) and the impending winter would keep others at bay, but obviously there were a number of people who saw value in the site. The building went for around 40% over asking. Anthony and I celebrated over the phone — me with a plate of escargots and a bottle of wine, and he with a cold beer.

I provide the capital and expertise on "greening" the project. Anthony has the vision and expertise to turn the building into a thing of beauty and worth. The hostel will be his baby day-to-day, and this will be his largest project to date. We hope to open in August, 2008.

Our plan is to increase the size of the building—it's currently 2.5 stories (the third story takes up only half the building's footprint), and we have planning permission to build out that half-floor and open up a small mezzanine and roof-top patio on the roof, so that the guests can enjoy the phenomenal view of Toronto while they write letters home, or chat with newfound friends.

In terms of what green technologies get incorporated — that will be my key learning curve. We all still want hot showers, right? We all want the ecosystem to still support our species, right? Well, we've got a lot of work to do. I will learn as I go, and will ditch technologies that may be trendy and look good, in favour of technologies that actually deliver. Do I put solar PV panels in favour of solar water heaters? Is a wind turbine feasible? Should I heat with natural gas, wood pellets or geothermal?

We've already decided on geothermal, which will the topic next week. We've applied to the City of Toronto for permission to drill the holes we need — and we wait with baited breath. We're also expecting a number of unpleasant surprises while renovating a completely run-down building that's been abandoned for a decade.

To give you an idea of where we're starting from: the roof caved in from a fire on the third floor, there is extensive water damage, the building is absolutely packed to the rafters with crap and pretty much only a couple sections of floor and the exterior walls are salvageable.

It's going to be a race to get the project completed in time for the late summer season. Then there's the task of capturing the attention of young world travelers. Let the games begin!
 

Hydrogen

post-young
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
5,990
Reaction score
0
So, what's a guy to do who's terrified of the earth's potential heat-death, speaks science and business, and has a few bucks in the bank?
Maybe the poor boy should be informed that his patrons who travelled to his little hotel probably produced some of those molecules he is so clearly terrified of. Even if they walked there, they had to exhale. Also, maybe our little hotelier who claims to be so conversant in science will one day note that the planet has been far warmer throughout most of its history, and that obviously life never died out due to heat death. In fact, life thrived during previous periods when it was much warmer. Finally, it may suck to note that satellite data shows no globally-averaged temperature increase for about the last ten years.


Maybe our lad in question just wants to capitalize on his fears and those of others.
 

egotrippin

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jul 7, 2007
Messages
2,123
Reaction score
35
Location
Scarborough Junction
Oh well, either way an abandoned building sees new life. Isn't that good, regardless of what we think of his business plan?

Also, I also agree that the global warming bandwagon is pretty exaggerated, but being more environmentally conscious in anyway isn't so bad either I think.
 

androiduk

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 3, 2008
Messages
6,745
Reaction score
924
Location
Yonge & Bloor
Application: Zoning Review Status: Not Started

Location: 357 COLLEGE ST
TORONTO ON M5T 1S5

Ward 20: Trinity-Spadina

Application#: 14 207134 ZPR 00 ZR Accepted Date: Aug 15, 2014

Project: Apartment Building Addition

Description: Proposal for multiple projects to an existing 4 storey hostel. Scope of work includes a 4 storey addition at the front, a 3 storey addition with a rooftop deck at the rear and a basement entrance at the side.


Capture357.JPG
 

Attachments

AlbertC

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Messages
4,197
Reaction score
2,058
Location
Davenport

ADRM

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Oct 2, 2015
Messages
4,164
Reaction score
8,341

Automation Gallery

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
11,698
Reaction score
2,003
Location
South Parkdale
Noticed that in the last month this is only the second development application submitted to Tor & E.York District (Downtown) other than some town homes proposed for 263 Logan,
could things be drying up now that the OMB is dismantled ??..strange:confused:
 

ADRM

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Oct 2, 2015
Messages
4,164
Reaction score
8,341
Noticed that in the last month this is only the second development application submitted to Tor & E.York District (Downtown) other than some town homes proposed for 263 Logan,
could things be drying up now that the OMB is dismantled ??..strange:confused:
The number of entries in the AIC isn't a great proxy for the number of development applications submitted to the City. I wouldn't read too much into it.
 

innsertnamehere

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
Mar 8, 2010
Messages
12,871
Reaction score
6,689
^it's a great proxy, actually.

Start of year is usually slow. December is busy as developers rush to get ahead of DC charge increases that usually come in January 1st. Rushing applications for OMB appeals was an additional factor this year.
 

ADRM

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Oct 2, 2015
Messages
4,164
Reaction score
8,341
^it's a great proxy, actually.

Start of year is usually slow. December is busy as developers rush to get ahead of DC charge increases that usually come in January 1st. Rushing applications for OMB appeals was an additional factor this year.
I meant in terms of there being more than a day-long lag between submission and posting.
 

Top