Creating High-Quality, Sustainable Spaces
At Colliers International, Canada’s largest commercial real estate services provider, National Energy and Sustainability Manager Phillip Raffi collaborates closely with building owners and operators to improve their properties with energy-saving upgrades.
“Property owners and operators are extremely busy,” he says. “My role is to help take action items off their plates.”
BIG BENEFITS, EASY UPGRADES
Every other week or so, Raffi does a building walkthrough with a different property manager to spot potential opportunities to save. He also sends out regular email updates about new technologies and incentive programs that can help buildings reduce energy use. Working with building management, Raffi recently led a lighting retrofit at 150 Bloor Street West, a 665,000 square-foot mixed-use property.
“Lighting’s the easiest upgrade because everyone can see the difference right away and Toronto Hydro provides a great incentive,” he says. “But it has many nonmonetary benefits as well – the property looks so much nicer and people feel more alive in the space.”
Colliers let tenants live with a range of colour indexes, from warmer to cooler, brighter lighting (3000K to 5000K) for a few weeks prior to the full retrofit. “Instead of just doing it and hoping they’d be happy, we piloted different options,” Raffi explains. “We want to get it right the first time.”
Parking garage lighting was another easy improvement, followed by carbon monoxide sensors on ventilation fans and VFDs to supply and return fans and pumps. The entire suite of upgrades eventually earned the building a BOMA BEST® Platinum certification.
Raffi says aiming for green building certification is an effective catalyst for change. “It allows you to engage a broad spectrum of stakeholders and it’s a great way to get people
excited about saving energy,” he says. “And instead of seven separate approvals, certification means upgrades are simply one line in the capital budget, making the whole process more efficient,” he says.
PUT THE EXPERTS TO WORK
To help get projects off the ground, Raffi works closely with the Energy Experts. “Toronto Hydro is a terrific resource, first and foremost with all the incentives,” he says. “And if I have a more complex project, say analyzing energy data, they’re always there for me.”
“Of course our main goal is capital savings. Of course we want to increase property value. But energy efficiency is really about making people happy,” says Raffi.
Developer Beaverhall Homes incorporated a host of energy efficient features into Ocean Club Waterfront Condominiums, its Humber Bay Shores project, and easily sold out before the first shovelful of dirt was turned.
DRIVE PRE-CONSTRUCTION SALES
Purchasers know that an energy efficient building minimizes waste, equaling lower maintenance fees and long-term savings, says Elisa Pennino, Assistant Manager, Beaverhall Homes. “Energy efficiency helps with the marketing of the building, it helps you to sell. It’s a big attraction to owners and tenants alike,” she explains.
THE INCENTIVE ADVANTAGE
With help from Toronto Hydro’s High Performance New Construction program incentives, Beaverhall outfitted Ocean Club with a high efficiency building envelope, LED lighting, occupancy sensors, heat pumps, window glazings, low-flow fixtures and more. They also chose to have suite meters installed, which can help attract buyers and enhance unit resale value.
According to Toronto Hydro Energy Expert Travis Riggin, “Ocean Club is saving an average of 39% in ongoing electricity costs compared to a building without these upgrades.”
A SOURCE OF PRIDE
Beaverhall Homes’ founder and principal, Ami Tamam, says the savings and incentives make all the up-front effort worth it in the end. He’s proud of building high-performance homes, and recommends the program to other developers. “I’d do it again,” he affirms.