architecture industry news

Toronto’s First LEED Platinum Office Building’s Hefty Price Tag

RBC WaterPark

The up front costs of green building are high. Not only are the technologies cutting edge, offering building owners the promise of saving money on energy use down the track, but in most cases, the higher the green rating, the higher the overall standard of the building.

While this can certainly be challenging to developers, the results of developing in this way are continuing to roll in, with those in control of the buildings more than gaining back their up front investment in the long term.

This kind of future thinking could be the reason that Oxford Properties are willing to invest $400 million into what will become Toronto’s first ever LEED platinum-rated office building.

At 930,000 square feet, that investment is hardly small, but it is one the developers are willing to make in order to outdo their LEED goal and gain Platinum recognition.

“We take pride in operating and developing our towers to the highest standards and our commitment here is certainly no exception,” said Oxford Properties president and chief executive Blake Hutcheson.

RBC WaterPark

RBC WaterPark

The development, RBC WaterPark, will feature large-scale energy efficiency features that include deep lake water cooling, a cooling system that uses lake water used to cool air entering the building; a dedicated outdoor air system that will separate heating and cooling systems from ventilated fresh air; vision glazing, allowing for added insulation and solar gain elimination in up to 53 per cent of the windows and best-in-class plumbing and lighting features.

These features will cost the developers another $500,000, a figure they expect to recoup in cost cuts associated with energy saving to the tune of $150,000 per year.

“It’s a bet that it will be that much more attractive and efficient,” said Hutcheson. “That’s less than a four-year pay back. From a math perspective there is logic in taking these extra steps.”

Confidence in the large investment is further affirmed by the increasing interest tenants are taking in the high performance of their buildings. CBRE Canada vice-chair John O’Bryan explained that Platinum standards means more to tenants now than ever before.

“The difference between gold and platinum is nuance but it means you have the best of breed and, for certain organizations which put a higher priority on that, it helps,” he said.

Green building is growing in a fashion that is completely unprecedented nationwide. While investments in the practice are growing, so too are the recognition and the economic payback.

By Emily D’Alterio
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