On November 28, 2023, the Ontario Embodied Carbon Awards, a collaboration between the Carbon Leadership Forum’s Toronto and Ottawa hubs, were unveiled to celebrate the accomplishments of low-embodied carbon projects in Ontario. Crafted to inspire creativity and empower project teams to prioritize the reduction of embodied carbon emissions, this awards program aims to honour projects that have significantly minimized their environmental impact through low-carbon materials.
By 2060, the amount of building floor space around the world is set to double, equating to constructing an entire New York City every month for 40 years. Much of the carbon footprint associated with these new buildings will manifest as embodied carbon — emissions from building material manufacturing, transportation, and construction.
The Ontario Embodied Carbon Awards were established to recognize companies, projects, and individuals demonstrating excellence in decarbonizing the built environment through the use of low-carbon materials. The program’s objectives include inspiring others, celebrating significant reductions in embodied carbon emissions, fostering community within the low embodied carbon design industry, and stimulating friendly competition within the Ontario construction sector.
The inaugural Ontario Embodied Carbon Awards event took place at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) Annex Lounge. This venue is an outstanding example of adaptive reuse, contributing to the preservation of existing building stock and reducing the need for embodied carbon emissions associated with new construction.
Aligning with the program’s key principles of supporting a local and circular economy, winners took home a beautiful trophy made by Just Be Woodsy from a local fallen tree. Just Be Woodsy collaborates with local arborists and the City of Toronto to repurpose fallen trees into aesthetically pleasing items, demonstrating a commitment to embodied carbon reduction.
The evening featured Councillor Dianne Saxe who shared insights on the current state of the building and construction industry and emphasized the crucial role of sustainability in the built environment.
In its inaugural year, the awards featured four categories:
- New Construction – Residential
- New Construction – Institutional/Commercial/Industrial (ICI)
- Major Retrofits
- Innovation in Industry
The judging panel was comprised of industry leaders who are committed to recognizing innovation, excellence, and dedication to a greener future. The judges were:
- Ryan Zizzo – Founder & CEO, Mantle Developments
- Zeina Elali – Director, ESG & Innovation, Canadian Urban Limited
- Mark Thompson Brandt is the founding partner of TRACE Architectures Inc.
- Ghina Annan – Decarbonization Business Lead, Stantec (not pictured)
Winners and Honorable Mentions
Congratulations to the winners and honorable mentions for demonstrating leadership and excellence in low-carbon design strategies.
Major Retrofits: 25 St. Clair Avenue East Rehabilitation by Public Service and Procurement Canada
The 25 St. Clair Avenue East project is a major renovation of an existing ten-storey federal office building in Toronto, Ontario. As part of its sustainable design strategy, the Government of Canada selected the 25 St. Clair Avenue East building as the flagship model to demonstrate its commitment to achieving a carbon-neutral building portfolio by 2030.
New Construction – ICI: Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) Administrative Headquarters by TRCA
Located along Toronto’s Black Creek Ravine, the new administrative building for Toronto’s Conservation Authority will house over 400 staff in 7,500 m2 of usable space in a building that is 4 storeys from the top of the ravine. This pioneering mass timber building was one of the Canada Green Building Council’s (CAGBC) participants in their Zero Carbon Building Pilot Program. Simulations predict more than 50% reduction in operating emissions and over 75% reduction in embodied carbon compared to the average commercial building in Toronto. The project targets LEEDv4 Platinum, CAGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard v2, WELL Silver, and Toronto Green Standard (TGS) v3 Tier 2 certifications.
New Construction – Residential: Courcelette Condos by Windmill Development Group
Courcelette is an 8-storey, 57-unit urban infill condominium that transforms a former gas station and garage into a sustainable bike-centric community, including at least one bike parking space per suite, a dedicated bike entrance, and a bike repair/wash station—designed to meet the highest green standards. The project is targeting LEED Platinum and TGS tier 2. The project includes embodied emissions intensity requirements placed on the designers and builders as part of the project tender.
Innovation in Industry: Toronto Green Standard Embodied Carbon Caps by the City of Toronto
On May 10, 2023, the City of Toronto updated the Toronto Green Standard (TGS) version 4 energy and emissions building design requirements to include mandatory embodied carbon intensity caps for new city agency, corporation, and division-owned buildings, and private high-performance developments built within city limits. The TGS is a market transformation tool that sets out mandatory and higher-performance sustainable design requirements for new developments in Toronto, which significantly improve upon the requirements of the Ontario Building Code.
This makes Toronto the first jurisdiction in North America to establish whole-building embodied carbon intensity caps for new developments, highlighting Toronto’s leadership and investment in reducing embodied carbon emissions from building construction. Compliance with these caps will result in direct reductions in embodied carbon emissions from construction materials used in Toronto and have informed the local industry of the importance of embodied carbon management.
Mantle Developments is proud to have co-led this project with the City of Toronto.
- New Construction Residential: Daniels on Parliament by The Daniels Corporation
- New Construction Commercial: T3 Sterling Road by Hines
- Major Retrofits: TD Future Cities Centre by Evergreen Brickworks (Mantle Developments is proud to have co-led this project with Evergreen)
- Innovation: EllisDon’s Climate Commitment
- Innovation: Kraft Heinz’s New Toronto Headquarters – A Paradigm Shift in Sustainable Interior Fit-Outs by Envirotech
Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentions for their innovation and excellence. Let’s continue to inspire and innovate for a greener, more sustainable future!
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