With increased awareness of energy use and environmental sustainability coupled, plus more strigent green standards set out by Greater Toronto Area (GTA) municipalities, a new generation of condominium buildings are being designed with a focus on reduced carbon footprints and long-term savings for residents. One method of harnessing a build site's stored energy is the construction of geothermal systems that draw heat energy from deep below a building's footprint, converting it to usable, renewable power. One developer now incorporating these systems into certain projects is Collecdev, with two GTA condo developments under construction with geothermal energy systems, and another soon to begin.
On Yonge Street in Richmond Hill, Westwood Gardens is well into construction, with the structure beginning to rise above a network of pipes and pumps that extend deep into the earth below it. The aerial view above from a few months ago shows the building beginning to rise above grade, while the diagram below gives an idea of the underground network that draws geothermal energy to power the building, with cool water pumped into the earth returning to the building heated up.
Geothermal systems can displace most of the natural gas usage typically required for a building of this size, reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions by over 70% per year compared to a conventional building, something of this size offsetting carbon emissions by the equivalent of 140 fewer cars on the road each year. The elimination of associated cooling towers in the mechanical penthouse will also save over 5 million litres of water per year, and eliminate the need for harmful coolant chemicals. Geothermal offers reliability in all seasons, with energy drawn from deep below the surface where the temperature doesn't fluctuate, providing both a sustainable source of heat and energy to power a building.
The same system is in its earliest stages at the site of Tretti Condos, near Wilson subway station in northwest Toronto, while nearby, Collecdev is gearing up to install another of geothermal system at the recently sold-out Nordic Condos development on Wilson. Both of these systems are being built under 30-year agreements that include a performance guarantee and predictable costs.
While these systems add up-front costs during planning and construction, immediate property value benefits and long-term cost benefits come from reduced reliance on external power, while a reduction of environmental impacts are becoming more evident to builders and suite purchasers. With widespread implementation, these systems—along with other recent advances including innovations in laminated timber and carbon-trapping concrete—have the potential to vastly improve sustainability for the next generation of buildings.
You can learn more from our Database files for the projects mentioned, linked below. If you'd like to, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.
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