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Toronto to get a high-tech waterfront neighbourhood

Toronto has grown so much over the last 10 years. All it takes is a quick scan of the city skyline to see the massive influx of construction across the downtown core. The city is definitely still under development and because of this there is an increased cost of living and looming growth challenges.

Google’s sister company, Sidewalk Labs, in collaboration with Waterfront Toronto and the Canadian federal government, announced the development of an innovative city hub in Toronto, coined Quayside. The announcement was made on Tuesday at Corus Quay to a crowd that included Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Toronto Mayor John Tory.

There will be 800 acres of land available for revitalization in the eastern waterfront area. This hub will be the first high-tech neighbourhood in the city, and a model of a city that reflects the future.

Quayside will be a neighbourhood that combines people, culture, environment, and technology to help people thrive. Sidewalk Labs, since their launch in 2015, expressed their desire to create a modern community hub in an international city. The aim is to use technology as a tool to address urban living challenges, resulting in a more comfortable space for residents in the city. The ‘smart’ neighbourhood will have an impact on the future of Toronto as it will generate global interest and improve economic growth and development.

“We looked all over the world for the perfect place to bring this vision to life, and we found it here in Toronto.” Said Dan Doctoroff, the CEO of  Sidewalk Labs to a packed audience.

One of the most important aspects that Quayside will provide is an increase in jobs, as well as an increase in tech talent. Creative and innovative minds will have an opportunity to work and even live in a community that matches their skills. In getting this project underway, Sidewalk Labs also reached out to many residents across the GTA to get input and feedback on the community development idea. Now that Quayside will be a reality, starting Nov. 1 , Sidewalk Labs will spend approximately $50 million to have a yearlong discussion, consisting of public meetings, with residents, universities, and the government on how the project should unfold.

 

Sidewalk Labs also says they hope to have a blueprint on what the proposed neighbourhood would look like by the end of the year. Google Canada will also shift its headquarters to this waterfront neighbourhood. This kind of high- tech community will attract innovation and design concepts that should set Toronto apart from other cities in the world.

The Quayside is expected to be a community focused on the overall goal of people thriving. A place to feel comfortable  and grow. While all the specifics of the development remain unclear at this time, Sidewalk Labs gave a few examples of what people can expect, such as smart robots that clean the streets or self- driving transit, which is already being tested in other parts of the world.

How excited are you to see this unfold in our city? Comment below

 

Net Zero: The sustainable building solution

Could you imagine all of the buildings in Canada producing as much energy as they create? It might yet be possible with the net zero building strategy gaining ground.

Net zero buildings are gaining worldwide attention in the face of the blatant climate crisis. The ideas is that a house or building would produce as much energy as it uses over the course of one year. This is a rigorous and difficult standard to meet; but it does pose an important challenge to developers and architects.

The challenge: to transform how we think about design and construction. Net zero requires the building produces as much as it uses in a year through renewable energy resources without the use of on-site combustion, or any carbon-creating materials. Developers looking to adhere to net zero standards must look towards the International Living Future Institute, who created the Net Zero Energy Building Certification (NZEP), the worldwide standard for sustainable building. Their report, Living Building Challenge 3.0, explains, “the challenge aims to transform how we think about every single act of design and construction as an opportunity to positively impact the greater community of life and the cultural fabric of our human communities.”

There are many ways for buildings to reach net zero standards through heating, cooling, electrical needs, energy conservation, and on-site renewable generation. Some examples of net zero resources include solar panels, wind energy, geothermal technologies, and adjustable windows for natural cooling.

Energy consumption of commercial and institutional buildings in Canada accounts for 12 per cent of the country’s secondary energy use and produces 11 per cent of the national Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Without a dedication to producing sustainable buildings, these numbers will only increase. The challenge remains how to create net zero infrastructure that will keep Canadians warm during the sometimes harsh winters they face. The Canadian government has funded a strategic research network that gathers 29 researchers from 15 universities nation-wide to look into how to implement net zero infrastructure in a country where the climate is so precarious.

Photovoltaics has emerged as a potential heating source for residential and commercial net zero buildings. This energy source converts solar energy into direct current electricity and produces a photovoltaic effect.  The first commercial net zero building in Canada, the Mosaic Centre for Conscious Community and Commerce, used this energy source to heat their state-of-the-art commercial building successfully in chilly Edmonton. The first residential net zero building was established in Guelph, Ont. with the grand opening in September 2015.

Imagine a city full of buildings that create their own energy! Of course, this dream won’t become a reality for at least a decade, but we can at least start to work towards it. How else are we going to reduce our carbon footprint enough to actually make a difference?