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Toronto, ON ( by PATRICIA WILLIAMS February 11, 2015

Windmill Development Group is acting as co-developer on a project in Toronto that involves adaptive re-use of a historic church and construction of an adjacent four-storey Vestry building.

LEED Platinum is being targeted for the 43-unit Union Lofts condo development, at the northeast corner of Perth and Wallace avenues in the rapidly gentrifying Junction Triangle.

“We have a very ambitious green agenda,” says Windmill partner Alex Speigel, who heads the real estate development company’s Toronto office.

Windmill is developing the project in partnership with Toronto’s Cornerstone Lofts Ltd. and financial partner ONE Development. Completion is scheduled for this summer.

The project is being undertaken by a team that includes Caricari Lee Architects, structural engineers Soscia Engineering Ltd., mechanical-electrical engineers Integral, Mark Hartley Landscape Architects and Concept Contracting.

Speigel, previously director of development at Context Development, said conversion of the neo-Gothic church into a condo development has presented its share of challenges.

The interior of the heritage building, which was constructed in 1913, was gutted.

“We basically kept the shell of the building,” said Speigel who joined Windmill about three years ago.

He said the structure had to be designed “in a very smart way.

“We’re essentially building a building within a building.”

Wood frame and core slab structural systems were considered before a decision was made to utilize a structural steel frame in conjunction with a structural stud system.

Care also had to be taken when it came to insulating the century-old building, Speigel said.

“You can’t add as much insulation as you would in a new building in order to protect the stability of the original masonry walls.”

Recycling of building materials was a priority. Most of the wood in the church, including the pews, was recycled. An organ, manufactured in 1924, was disassembled and donated to another church.

“We were very careful about not throwing things into dumpsters,” Speigel said.

The new Vestry building sits on the site of the former church parking lot. A geothermal heating and cooling system, unusual in residential developments, was installed.

Individual heat pumps and energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) will be provided within the units. Electricity consumption as well as hot and cold water usage will be monitored to encourage conservation. Some 14 boreholes were dug 500 feet below the building’s parking garage. This work was performed on a design, build and operate basis by a division of Oakville Hydro.

Construction is currently about 50 per cent complete. Speigel said most of the construction waste has to be sorted offsite because of the tight site.

The church itself occupies more than half of the 20,000-square-foot site.

“Recycling can be a real challenge on a small site because you can’t have multiple bins.”

The developers are aiming for LEED Platinum certification, from the U.S. Green Building Council, in the category of LEED for Homes, multifamily midrise.

This category applies to buildings of between four and eight storeys. Speigel said this designation is not yet available from the Canada Green Building Council.

Windmill is a member of both councils.

“We’ve gone through the entire LEED checklist,” Speigel said. “Energy points are a big one. We’ve also paid a lot of attention to the building envelope.”

Read more here.

Union Lofts

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For the past few years, a seminar on new and innovative green building products has been a staple at Construct Canada.

This year was no exception, as Windmill Development Group and BuildGreen Solutions partner Rodney Wilts provided an update on the latest technologies, materials and systems — his sixth such presentation at the annual exposition.

“The green products marketplace has had a radical evolution over the past six years,” he said in an interview later.

“We now have so many more green building products.

“Overall, selection has grown, quality of products has grown and efficiency has improved.”

In his presentation, Wilts reviewed a slew of “great, green products” in the energy, health, and materials sectors. He also touched on future trends.

“Some of these products are just coming on the market,” he said.

In the energy sector, products that were reviewed include: the SolTech integrated solar thermal system, a new way of integrating solar energy into a building; and coloured solar PV panels, which Wilts described as a “modest” innovation.

“Previously, if you wanted to do solar, it came in one colour — black.”

In the health sector, products include halogen-free polyiso roofing insulation; “tunable” lighting which blends the efficacy of LEDs with the ability to have full control over the colour and intensity of indoor lighting; and “air purifying” hardwood flooring.

“We just stumbled upon this product recently,” Wilts said in reference to the flooring product.

“This is something we are starting to investigate in our office.”

In the materials realm, one of the innovative products that made the cut was Fireclay CRT tiles, manufactured in California from 100 per cent recycled e-waste — such as old televisions and computer monitors.

CRT was first introduced in the early 1900s as a way to transmit images. But demand has been rapidly declining since the introduction of LCD displays.

“This company is turning these items into quite good-looking tiles, thus avoiding their disposal in landfill sites,” Wilts said.

Other innovative products include:

— Panels designed to control sound reflection that are manufactured using recycled PET plastic bottles, eco-friendly dyes and no added adhesives;

— Enviroshake roofing products composed of recycled tire rubber, cellulosic fibres and post-industrial recycled plastics;

— Certified “green” gravel. This product is expected to be on the market next year.

— Cross-laminated timber (CLT). Wilts said the “fully structural” engineered wood panels can enable much taller wood buildings to be constructed.

Read more – click here.


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Ottawa, ON ( Friday, 19 December 2014 11:34 Written by Steph Willems)

Jeff Westeinde’s car glides silently to a stop in the shadow of his company’s newest condo development on the edge of downtown Ottawa.

In the final stages of construction, Windmill Developments’ energy-efficient Cathedral Hill condo tower boasts 130 environmentally-friendly units overlooking the Ottawa River from atop a lofty escarpment. The company claims to be Canada’s leading sustainable developer, and the building itself is expected to achieve LEED Platinum certification.

But on this day, the company’s co-founder is more interested in his car – a Tesla Model S sedan he picked up just two days prior.

Powerful, svelte, and all-electric, the Model S sits at the forefront of a growing segment in the automotive landscape. Its range, approximately 450 km, speed 0-100 km/h in 5.4 seconds, and the ability to carry five adults and two kids have made it the most capable and practical EV to date.

Over a thousand Model S sedans have found homes with Canadian buyers since its December, 2012 introduction.

“I lived in Vancouver for years – my buddies out there have had them for a couple of years, so I’ve driven one for a week at a time,” said Westeinde, who regularly travels between Windmill’s main office in Ottawa and its satellite location in Toronto.

“I didn’t get this sooner because currently you can’t make it to Toronto (on a charge), but they’ve got a Supercharger opening in Kingston in two weeks.”

read more – click here.

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