Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Toronto Green Multiunit Building Challenge

WRT DC's commitment to sustainability and the Sustainability Plan I've argued ("More on zero waste practice (and DC)") that one area where national best practice definitely lags is with multiunit residential housing, and by focusing there, the city could move best practice forward.

DC, like many cities, does have a program that facilitates energy conservation programs in such buildings, providing financing and other assistance. Monetizing savings in energy costs help fund the upgrades.

The Toronto sign in front of City Hall was introduced as part of promoting the hosting of the Pan Am Games.

Toronto is a few steps ahead of most cities in terms of paying attention to the problems and needs of multiunit housing.  About half of Toronto's residents live in apartments, condominiums, and co-operatives.

In response, first the city introduced the Tower Renewal Program to provide planning and financial support for the renovation and rehabilitation of declining and dated multiunit buildings, including energy conservation.  (Note that in the US, HUD has a similar program, but only for housing that had been built with federal funding.  Toronto's program isn't limited to housing funding by the city, province, or national government.)

Second,Toronto has piloted programs focused on shrinking the waste stream in multiunit buildings.

Photo of a trash room in a Toronto apartment building by Colin Friars-McKay, Rock 88.9, St. John, Newfoundlound

Toronto's multiunit buildings recycle and compost 27% of their waste, while single family residents divert 65%.

But the example of the Mayfair on the Green complex demonstrates that significant improvement is possible ("Best practice multiunit residential zero waste project in Scarborough").

The complex now diverts 85% of their waste, stream, after instituting changes to collection practices accompanied by a heavy and ongoing education and participation campaign.

Mayfair on the Green condominiums.

To achieve the city's goal of reducing the waste stream by 70%,much more attention needs to be directed to multunit housing.  Mayfair on the Green shows it is possible, but as an owner-occupied development, it might be easier there than in rental housing.  

Now the city is scaling up attention to waste reduction in multiunit housing with the "Mayor's Towering Challenge."  It's mostly acknowledgement and recognition, but programming and other support will be provided to participants.

One element of the program is the creation of a volunteer-delivered education element, organized like a campaign, at the building level.

-- 3Rs Ambassador Program

It will be interesting to see if rental housing sites can significantly improve on these metrics.

Redesigning "waste collection spaces" in apartment buildings.  In "Reformulating building regulations to promote sustainability" I suggested the need for changes to building regulations to design in better sustainability practices, including to "garbage rooms."

That piece cites an Australian publication which includes such guidance.  In North America, Concert Properties in Vancouver is a leader in reconceptualizing trash rooms as "recycling lounges" to spur waste diversion and reduction.

Of course, there are many examples throughout Europe of such practices already existing, such as how residents are required to sort and "discard" waste in Switzerland, Scandinavia etc.

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At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Charlie said...

Richard; Hope you are enjoying the fourth. In Mallorca for the week. As usual in Spanish cities multi unit doesn't have trash collection. Everyone takes ur to the local station which is on the block. Best way to reduce trash is make it hard to pick up

Saw some nice way finding in Palma as well; just qr codes with links to audio

Also like that they have a guy with a handheld blower during street cleaning to push sidewalk stuff into its path

Cheers. Out in the mountains so may not be reading internet that much

At 3:58 PM, Anonymous Charlie's said...

Rather off topic, you might enjoy

At 5:16 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

tough life, you. Sounds awesome. I'll look up Parma.

WRT the scaling thing, makes sense. Another illustration of the various urban economics theories of agglomeration.

even other theories of agglomeration, like Ben Bagdikian's book on media and his description of how generally, one newspaper in a city became dominant, because the CPM for advertising was so much better.

Plus, I used to mention Belmont's putting of numbers to Jane Jacobs, although I argue now with e-commerce, etc., the number of people necessary to support a successful "local" commercial district has grown. Maybe it's 20K-30K.

But you can see how addition of marginal population led to significant retail improvements in neighborhoods like 8th St. SE and now the Upshur street part of the Petworth commercial district (it's becoming a restaurant center, very amazing).


Have fun (but I don't see how you won't!).


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