Property Biz Canada

Cadillac’s green focus pays off with platinum tower in Toronto

While the glitter of platinum will likely catch the eye of property owners and managers across the country, it was a long-running and comprehensive approach to environmental sustainability that resulted in Cadillac Fairview securing LEED Platinum certification for its 100 Wellington St. West building in Toronto.

While Cadillac is accepting kudos and attention for landing the first platinum certification in the city for an office tower, the win is part of a lengthy program for the six-tower, 4.3-million square-foot Toronto-Dominion Centre complex.

“We do have a big plan here at the TD Centre, the 100 Wellington St. West tower is the third tower out of six to be certified,” said David Hoffman, general manager of the TD Centre.

The first two towers (77 King St. West and 79 Wellington West) were both certified LEED Gold and Hoffman expects the final three buildings to be certified by the end of 2013 with either a gold or platinum certification.

The success of 100 Wellington West is even more impressive when one considers the 33-storey tower is nearly four decades old (the handsome, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed black building was completed in 1974).

“This is a great example even in an older complex that you can achieve it with hard work and dedication,” said Hoffman. “The reality is there are no easy answers, just hard decisions.”

Comprehensive approach works for Cadillac

So just how was Cadillac able to secure the city’s first LEED Platinum certification?

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“I have been asked that question a couple of times and it wasn’t so much what we did differently but what we already were doing and how we used LEED,” said Hoffman. “Unlike other properties or other towers that go after LEED certification, we didn’t use LEED as a scorecard to simply begin the implementation of a program or initiative.”

Instead, LEED was used to validate existing programs that are already used in 100 Wellington West and other buildings in the complex.

The centre’s GM rhymed off examples: the TD complex was among the first to hook into the Enwave deepwater cooling system (in 2004), which serves the financial district, and can be considered the start of the series of green measures; it was one of the first property owners to install tenant sub-metering systems on every floor, “which allows tenants to view and manage their specific use of energy in real time;” and the implementation of a washroom fixture upgrade program (faucets, toilets and urinals) and an overall smart-water system.

Real time energy dashboard for 100 Wellington

Tenants getting green too

The TD Centre also got tenants involved beyond installation of their energy meters. It created the Tenant Green Council Occupant Engagement Program (which just won the Pinnacle award at BOMA National, Hoffman said).

The eight-tenant council, representing some of the TD Centre’s largest tenants, has been involved in a series of initiatives that include “green behaviours, practices, consciousness that in turn, drive conservation,” explained Hoffman.

The council is set up to run cross-complex campaigns. Last year, it ran an energy-saving campaign that resulted in the reduction of 2.4-million kilowatt hours. It is currently in the middle of a waste campaign and organizers hope to improve the TD Centre’s already impressive diversion rate of 80 per cent.

Next up is an air campaign attempting to improve both interior and exterior air quality. Success will be hard to measure, the general manager admits, but the TD Centre does have one advantage out of the blocks: it already conducts annual indoor-air-quality testing and publishes those results publicly, “good or bad.”

Competitors taking notes

The TD Centre’s platinum and gold sheen has not gone unnoticed in the commercial space, said Hoffman, whose centre was cited last week as one of “Ten reasons to be optimistic about Toronto” in a Toronto Star article by architecture writer Christopher Hume.

“I was in a meeting with Oxford and they remarked and congratulated (me) on this. I also had Menkes, the general manager of the Telus tower, call me and congratulate me,” said Hoffman. “He wants to take his operations team through a tour of the TD Centre and specifically that tower.”

Not as pricey as you may think

How many millions did 100 Wellington’s platinum certification cost, you may ask?

“I would have asked that for 77 King St., which was the first commercial office tower to achieve LEED certification by Canadian standards,” explained Hoffman. At that TD Centre building big bucks were devoted to replacing the windows to achieve LEED status. “[77 King St.] would have been in the millions of dollars, this is not in the millions of dollars here (at Wellington West).” The Enwave installation was amortized over many years and the other upgrades to the tower have been carried out gradually.

“It is not in the millions of dollars, I am not trying to be elusive here. I simply don’t know how much this would have cost us.”

The successful certification of 77 King St. West was followed last year by 79 Wellington West (better known as the TD Waterhouse Tower). Both achieved gold status.

The final three are the main TD Bank Tower (next in line for certification), followed by the Ernst & Young Tower (222 Bay St.) and finally 95 Wellington.

“We are targeting one more to be platinum,” said the TD Centre, who declined to single out the tower he believes can achieve top LEED status.

Cadillac has already submitted for the TD Bank tower and is now going through the LEED program’s one-year performance period.

Lambert’s folly a triumph

The TD Centre was an enormous gamble for TD Bank to make in the 1960s when Toronto was a second-tier financial capital. The bank’s Chairman, Allen Lambert, pushed for a modern tower with development partner Fairview Corp. After hiring architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, his initial design called for “a bold, two-tower design plus Banking Pavilion,” according to the TD Centre website.

That grew to encompass an underground retail mall and the original black tower grew to five buildings. The addition of 95 Wellington St. in 1995 brought the complex to a total of six towers.

TD Bank took up only seven floors of the first tower, which meant over one million square feet of space would need to be leased to other tenants in the initial phase, leading other business leaders to jokingly refer to it as “Lambert’s Folly.”

It’s been looking like a pretty smart decision for decades now.

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