Experts say conservation can reduce high-rise energy costs

An energy advisor to the City of Toronto says conservation techniques introduced to high-rise buildings can substantially reduce energy costs.

At the Toronto Atmospheric Fund’s Power of Green seminar held Tuesday night, green energy experts discussed ways to make high-rise buildings more energy efficient. More than 50 building owners, tenant association representatives and high-rise residents attended the event at the Metro Central YMCA in downtown Toronto.

Rob Detta Colli, an advisor for the Towerwise Toronto initiative, says energy bills account for about 40 per cent of a residential building’s monthly operating costs.

“It’s the largest controllable expense,” he said.

He listed a number of practical methods for energy conservation in the city’s high-rise apartments. He said that installing double-paned thermal windows, replacing aging boilers, switching to LED light bulbs in common areas and having a timed air-circulation system in basement parking levels can all save energy.

With limited financial resources available to building owners, he provided an overview of government incentives available for green energy projects, such as the provincial government’s EcoEnergy for Renewable Heat program.

“I’ve seen many of these (energy conservation) efforts go right,” Detta Colli said. “The savings go through…and good returns are coming through.”

Jeff Cardona is the owner of the tower at 849 Broadview Ave. In an interview later, he said his tenants have welcomed energy conservation with open arms.

“They’re proud of it,” he said.

He cited several energy-saving measures undertaken at his building. Since undergoing an extensive green energy retrofit, he said that engineers project an annual 40 per cent savings on natural gas consumption, 50 per cent reduced water usage and 86 per cent less energy used in common areas.

Single-pane windows, low flow toilets and aerated shower heads, he said, were installed to replace old fixtures in the building, constructed in the 1930s.

“We’re happy with the work we’ve done,” Cardona added, “(but) we still require our tenants’ involvement with energy reduction on a daily basis.”

Rob McMonagle, green technology and energy advisor for the City of Toronto, said incentives to make high-rise buildings more energy efficient have not been sufficiently promoted.

“(But) I think we’ll really start to see that coming along as people begin to get more comfortable with these technologies,” he said.