Sustainable Built Environment Conference of the Americas

September 19 & 20, Toronto, Canada

Expert panelists address today’s most pressing topics

Learn from thought-leaders and decision makers: plenary panel sessions will provoke, engage and educate.

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Plenary: “What are the Realities of Building in the Age of Carbon Tax and Climate Change?”

Monday Sept 19, 10:15 AM ­- 12:15 PM
Representatives from government, academia and the insurance industry set the context for the two days of programming by addressing the risks of climate change, the insurance issues, and the effect of carbon tax on buildings and portfolios.


Dr. Blair Feltmate, Head, Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo
“Weather Gone Wild: The Worst is Yet to Come, So You Better Adapt

Climate change is unstoppable, and accordingly extreme weather events in Canada will get worse.  The financial costs due to extreme weather are dire, as reflected in ever-increasing Property & Casualty insurance loss claims and soon-to-be-realized consequent mortgage defaults.  The discussion will emphasize that Canada must immediately embrace adaptation to climate change to address financial and social stress that will otherwise grow in magnitude.  Legal due diligence to address and disclose climate-related risks, consistent with Canadian Securities Administration guidance document 51-333, will be emphasized.  In closing, examples drawn from residential and commercial real estate development will illustrate practical and cost-effective means to help limit extreme weather risk – also, the broadly held belief that adaptation is always costly will be dispelled.

Pamela Blais, Principal, Metropole Consultants
“Land use planning: Getting serious about GHG reduction

Though the issue has been around a long time, serious integration of GHG reduction strategies into land use planning is relatively new. Some municipal Official Plans address the issue, most do not. With Ontario’s adoption of ambitious GHG reduction targets, and proposed amendments to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe paying closer attention to climate change, this is poised to change. The presentation will explore the extent to which land use planning can address climate change, current and proposed examples, and the types of policy levers that will be effective.

Alec Hay, Principal in Risk, Resilience & Security Planning, Southern Harbour
“Challenges, Opportunities and Leadership in an Uncertain Future

The way we do business is based upon established routines and received wisdom. Today and more so in the future, the underlying assumptions of these routines are no longer valid; not for the frequency and severity of hazards, nor the consequence and loss exposure, and not even for the legal and social/market context. Nowhere is this more critical than in municipalities and the infrastructure that supports them. We know our risk exposure is changing and yet remain willfully ignorant, clutching to familiar routines and abrogating responsibility; like the residents of Coral Gables belief that the rising sea levels that threaten their homes are someones else’s problem. Elsewhere, insurers are challenging municipalities in court for not reasonably accounting for the increased risks. The value of operations in buildings is now orders of magnitude greater than the value of the building itself, leaving the property owner with liabilities greater than available capital if perceived to impede a tenant’s resilience. We must transition from a compliance view of Fail Safe to an holistic first principles plan for Safe-to-Fail. We need to protect against the events, but recognise that no protection is absolute and so ensure that we are able to recover rapidly. We have both the technology and the engineering know how, we simply need to act and in the process save money, enhance assurance, satisfy our fiduciary responsibilities, and position ourselves in the driving seat of tomorrow’s world. The extraordinary confluence of industry, academic and government interest, capability and resources in Toronto today has given rise to an understanding of how to optimise our investment in the future and the next generation. It is serendipitous, but to the continents’ collective benefit. There is no reason not to do better and every reason to implement today.

Alex Wood, Executive Director, Climate Change Directorate, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
“Ontario’s Policy Framework for Reducing Emissions from Buildings”

Over the past year, Ontario has rolled out its policy framework for addressing climate change. This framework includes new legislation providing the legal basis for action (Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016), a new cap and trade program, and the province’s new Climate Change Action Plan. The overall framework will impact the buildings sector by pricing emissions through the fossil fuels they consume (through the cap and trade program), and by the multiple actions laid out in the Climate Change Action Plan which are designed to help reduce emissions from the sector. Together, these actions will build upon progress already made in the buildings sector by continuing to reduce greenhouse gas pollution in existing housing and other buildings, and ensuring that new buildings do not contribute to increased net greenhouse gas pollution.

The Climate Change Action Plan is designed to help the buildings sector continue to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and to support homeowners. It includes actions to improve efficiency in multi-residential buildings and public institutions; to widen low-carbon energy choices for homeowners and help consumers manage their energy use; to establish long-term greenhouse gas reduction targets in the Building Code and introduce low-carbon content requirements for natural gas; and to support workforce training. As committed in the 2016 budget, Ontario intends to ensure that the net impact of cap and trade will not result in an overall increase in electricity costs for commercial and industrial consumers, and that there will be a modest benefit of up to $2 per month, on average, to residential consumers.

Ontario also recognizes the need to plan, prepare and adapt to a changing climate. The province’s updated plan for adapting to climate change and becoming more resilient will be released in 2017. This upcoming plan will build on Climate Ready: Ontario’s Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan, which was released in 2011, and was Ontario’s first public commitment to address climate impacts across government.

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Plenary: “Energy and Thermal Innovations”

Tuesday Sept 20, 10:15 AM -­ 12:00 PM
Presenting resilient alternatives to ‘business as usual’, this plenary discussion will address the latest developments in energy storage, cooling with CO2 and phase change walls that act as thermal flywheels. Learn about regional solutions poised for international adaptation.

Jack Simpson, Vice-President, Generation, Toronto Hydro Corp.
“Energy Storage to Make Renewables More Viable: the Challenges and Opportunities”

Wind and solar energy are poised to make much larger contributions to the energy mix thanks to several innovative pilot projects in the Toronto region. Compressed air, flywheel technology, hydrogen and batteries are being tested as energy storage systems. This session will describe these systems in terms of how they work, their efficiency, cost effectiveness and scalability. As well, their potential contribution to more resilient buildings, district systems and the grid at large will be explored.

Dr. Umberto Berardi, Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science, Ryerson University, Toronto
“The potential of thermal energy storage in high performance buildings: Insights from research projects and zero energy houses”

Thermal Energy Storage (TES) systems in the building sector have started to show high potential for energy saving. TES can overcome the lack of coincidence between the energy supply and its demand, reducing investment and running costs, as well as GHG emissions of existing as well as new buildings. The TES in active and passive systems allows the rational use of thermal energy thanks to peak load shifting strategies. In particular, passive TES systems (acting as an additional thermal mass) enhance the naturally available heat energy sources in order to maintain the comfort conditions, while active TES systems provide a high degree of control of the indoor conditions by storing high quantity of heat energy, in applications such as domestic hot water or HVAC systems.
The talk will review current research outcomes and will show examples of built zero energy houses that integrated TES systems.

Steven Horwood, Vice President, Sales & Operations, Neelands Refrigeration Ltd.
“CO2 - Business Resilience in Refrigeration Solutions”

There have been singular advances in refrigeration design and management over the last 20 years, such that the reliability and safety of today’s systems do not reflect the public’s perception or current legislation. Nevertheless, in specializing, refrigeration systems have become separated from the operation that they enable, often seen as a black box component. Recognised as being one of the greatest operational risks to owner operations, it is common to find owner stakeholder groups and their consultants to be lagging on the advancements of Carbon Dioxide refrigeration technology, application, and how CO2 can effectively address the refrigeration, GHG and resiliency challenges.
This session shall provide the attendee with an overview of CO2 application advancements in Canada the past 10 years in municipal, commercial and industrial sectors.

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Plenary: “Getting to the Next Level - A Road Map to Regenerative Buildings”

Tuesday Sept 20, 1:15 - 3:15 PM
Across the globe, complacency is being rapidly replaced by a sense of urgency. The scale of the crisis we face demands more than incremental improvements in energy efficiency. However, the regenerative buildings with net positive energy and net zero carbon that we need now are exceptions to the rule. This session will look at successes and issues surrounding exceptional buildings including financing upgrades, innovative project management and delivery, and low energy use intensity behaviours in buildings.


Paula Baker-Laporte, FAIA, BBEC, Econest Architecture Inc.
“Building Biology - 7 Keys to Health and Resilience”

This lecture will explore the seven factors for resilient buildings that support health, ecology and building longevity. It will examine ways in which our new “high performance or green buildings” might be far more successful in the long run, in serving the health and environmental goals we are all striving for. It will look at a variety of built examples of alternatives to standard industrialized construction that incorporate the following seven keys to health and resiliency: mass walls, high hygric buffer capacity, no vapour barrier, radiant heat, free of chemical toxics, proven history, long life span/biodegradable. It will show built examples and describe practical ways that building professionals can apply these principles to their own buildings.

Jen Hancock, BA, BEd, LEED AP BD + C, Director of Innovative Construction, CHANDOS
“Net-zero in Edmonton: On Time and On Budget With Lean Integrated Project Delivery”

The Mosaic Centre for Conscious Community and Commerce is a net-zero energy target office in Edmonton Alberta. It was completed in 2015 using Lean Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) as a design and construction delivery method. Jen will explore the innovative elements of this net-zero building and how utilizing Lean IPD was critical to tackling this complex project. The presentation will focus on IPD mechanics, examples of IPD benefits and how well the process works in getting a more sustainable building, along with some lessons learned from the contractor’s standpoint.

Shadi Aghaei, Vice-President, Times Group Corp.
“Integrated Design Process: Holistic Approach to High Performance Building Design & Construction”

Residential developer Times Group’s foray into sustainable buildings started with Majestic Court, a 532-suite condo in Markham. This building achieved LEED Gold in 2011, becoming Ontario’s first LEED-certified, privately developed multi-unit residential high-rise outside of Toronto. More recently, Riverside, representing over 3100 units, provided the company an opportunity to adopt a new integrated design process for a holistic approach to high-performance building design and construction. The IDP offered by Enbridge’s Savings by Design program relied upon every expert member of a project team sharing a vision of sustainability, and working collaboratively to implement sustainability goals. This process has enabled the team to optimize systems, reduce operating and maintenance costs and minimize the need for incremental capital. Times Group’s Shadi Aghaei will discuss the process of adopting the IDP from a developer’s point of view, its advantages and some of the challenges involved with end-users and new building technologies.

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Plenary: “Urban Resilience - Community, Density & Ecosystems”

Tuesday Sept 20, 3:30 - 5:30 PM
By the 2050’s, three out of four people will be living in cities. Simultaneously we will need to manage rapid urban growth, reduce carbon, enhance natural systems and maintain resilient communities. This session brings together several thought leaders who have addressed these challenges and point the way forward with real, practical, and innovative solutions.


Lloyd Alter, Adjunct Professor, Sustainable Design, Ryerson University;; The Guardian
“Learning from Goldilocks”

I have called it the Goldilocks density: dense enough to support vibrant main streets with retail and services for local needs, but not too high that people can’t take the stairs in a pinch. Dense enough to support bike and transit infrastructure, but not so dense to need subways and huge underground parking garages. Dense enough to build a sense of community, but not so dense as to have everyone slip into anonymity.
This talk will look at how new building materials (like wood construction) and transportation alternatives (like more bike lanes and streetcars) and attitudes (like the millennial preferences for urban living in smaller spaces) are making Goldilocks look better every day. Learn How the recent changes that permit taller wood structures may change planning and development patterns how “the missing middle”- mid-rise main street development- is the answer to affordable development for urban families. Hear how our future will be built around 21st century communication like smart phones and apps, and 19th century transportation like bikes and streetcars. Forget smart houses and smart cities; they should be dumb but happy

Antonio Gómez-Palacio, Arq MES RPP MCIP MRAIC, Principal, Dialog
“A Framework for Community Resilience Planning: the Moncton story”

Witnessing floods, fires, economic downturns, demographic bubbles, cities and communities are increasingly preoccupied with becoming more robust and able to withstand devastating scenarios. More often than not, they seek to build heftier infrastructure, in an attempt to prevent change. Antonio will argue that resilience is not about preventing change, rather about managing change (adapting, responding, recovering, and adapting anew) by focusing not on infrastructure but rather on quality of life and community objectives. He presents a framework for planning resilient communities, illustrated through a case study: the city of Moncton, NB.

Gordon Harris, FCIP, President & CEO, SFU Community Trust
“UniverCity: A Living Lab for Resilient Development”

More than a decade ago, the BC-based SFU Community Trust set itself a test: build a new community of more than 9,000 people on the top of Burnaby Mountain (next to the campus of Simon Fraser University) and manage stormwater so effectively that salmon swimming at the bottom of the mountain see no evidence of impact.
From road washouts to raingardens, Trust President and CEO Gordon Harris will describe early failures and ultimate successes in the low-carbon community of UniverCity. He’ll talk about rigorous standards and specific innovations – and about the crucial and ongoing involvement of an Adaptive Management Committee that includes representatives from federal, provincial and local governments, experts recruited by the Trust and, most importantly, local residents and volunteer streamkeepers. And he’ll conclude with a salmon-centred evaluation and a list of lessons learned.

Craig Applegath, Architect, PPOAA, AIBC, FRAIC, LEED®AP, Founding Principal of DIALOG Toronto & Jeff Schnurr, Executive Director, Community Forests International
“Strengthening Symbiotic Flows: Valuing Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital”

Craig Applegath and Jeff Schnurr build regenerative relationships between the rural and urban. Since 2010, the speakers have pioneered an innovative carbon offset initiative, which has stored over 15,000 tons of CO2 equivalent through the restoration of 700 acres of endangered forests. Building on the belief that climate change mitigation and adaptation requires a holistic approach, this presentation will discuss how regenerative relationships can be built on a regional scale, impacting our economy, natural environment and culture. A regenerative urban and rural relationship can be built by recognizing symbiotic flows, such as the exchange of energy, food, forest products, people and information – this presentation will explore how we can strengthen symbiotic flows by valuing ecosystem services and natural capital.

Image of City Hall Green Roof courtesy of Flynn Canada

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