Tag Archives: Sustainability

Minto Wins Big at the EnerQuality Awards – Again!

We’ve been recognized for our commitment to Sustainability once again! On February 24th, we were honoured to receive the ENERGY STAR® Builder of the Year (Large Volume) Award at the 2016 EnerQuality Awards Gala. Minto was recognized for its commitment to creating better places to live through energy efficiency and building innovation. We were also finalists for Ontario Green Builder of the Year and Net Zero Builder of the Year.

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“The Minto team is honoured to be recognized by EnerQuality for our dedication to building thoughtfully designed, energy efficient new homes for our customers,” says Alison Minato, our Vice President of Sustainability. “In 2016 we sold our first Net Zero Energy town homes and labeled all of Minto’s new homes in Ontario under the ENERGY STAR®, LEED or EnerGuide assurance programs.  We are really proud of our commitment to innovation and creating better places for our customers and the environment.”

Minto is dedicated to getting 100% of our homes third party certified, either through ENERGY STAR®, LEED, or EnerGuide. We provide sustainability training for our staff and trades and educate homeowners about sustainable living in their own home at point of sale and at our homeowner Essentials Events. We are also heavily involved in sustainability industry councils, committees and partnerships, and our Sustainability team at Minto is dedicated to research and development projects, most recently developing our Net Zero Energy Home project.

Net Zero Home Arcadia

We’re so honoured to be recognized for our work in Sustainable home building. Thank you to EnerQuality for the award. We’re looking forward to another year of Green innovation and home building!

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Find out more about the work Minto does for sustainable living here.

Green Architecture Around The World

It’s earth week! And what better way to celebrate than to take a look at some of the best sustainable architectural buildings around the world! As a leading Green builder, Minto is committed to creating better, greener buildings and homes with less impact on the environment.  We like to look at what other builders and architects around the world are doing to inspire us to push the envelope even further on Green building. Below we have some great examples of innovative sustainable home building and construction, plus a look at Minto’s own Net Zero project!

Let’s take a look:

 

The Sustainability Treehouse by Mithun ArchitectsWest Virginia

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The Sustainability Treehouse is a unique icon of camp adventure, environmental stewardship and innovative building design that uses the environment around it to inspire visitors within it. The Treehouse provides dynamic educational and gathering spaces for exploring and understanding the site and ecosystem at the levels of ground, tree canopy, and sky. The towering steel frame elevates visitors to extraordinary vantages and educates them on green building systems, such as photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, and a large cistern and water cleansing system. Visitors learn about energy and water conservation as they climb outdoor staircases up to a 125-foot-high rooftop rising above the leaf canopy. Sited on a former coal mine, the building features a locally made prefabricated steel megastructure, FSC-certified black locust wood housing, a photovoltaic array, a wind turbine, and a rainwater catchment system.

 

CV by Paz Arquitectura, Santa Rosalia, Guatemala City

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Located on a dense hillside forest in the Santa Rosalía area of Guatemala City, Corallo House integrates an existing forest into the layout of a house. It merges nature into the architecture. The home was designed with the goal to preserve the existing trees, in order to have the trees interact with the living space. The floorplan is free of columns, and the floor levels change with the existing topography. The façades are mostly glass in order to connect the interior to the exterior. The main structural component is exposed concrete, which contrasts with the texture of the wood and the trees. In addition, the home uses heat repelling concrete foundation and recycled materials.

 

The Council House 2, Melbourne, Australia

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The Council House 2 (CH2) office building was designed in collaboration with the City of Melbourne to follow a model that promotes a more interactive role between the city and nature, in which all parties depend on each other. The City of Melbourne aims to achieve zero emissions for the municipality by 2020, and so the CH2 was designed as a major contribution to this goal, as well as a working example for the local development market. The objective of CH2 was to have it rely on passive energy systems while producing a premium grade building. Plants are used for façades that moderate climate, tapered ventilation ducts integrate with day lighting strategies and a concrete floor structure plays a central role in the building’s heating and cooling, bringing down utility costs and the building’s overall emissions.

 

The HemLoft Treehouse, Joel Allen, Whistler

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The HemLoft Treehouse was built out of materials that Allen, the architect and brains behind this, got off of Craigslist mostly for free! These materials coupled with a lot of time and passion for living green is why this project became a world wide success.  Allen’s efforts to reuse materials from million dollar homes that were torn down in the whistler community, highlight the importance of reusing materials in and reducing waste.

 

One Central Park, Sydney, Australia

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One Central Park in Sydney, is a 117 metre tall residential tower, designed by Parisian architect, Jena Nouvel. It features vertical gardens covering the façade of the building, giving it a look of a building made of greenery. Lush gardens also occupy the terraces of the structure, and it is built around a spacious park, giving you green space at all angles of this building. The gardens are filled with 38,000 indigenous and exotic plants, providing  a mix of vegetation to the landscape. A cantilevered section of the building holds reflective panels that help provide sunlight to all edges of the building’s green spaces. One Central Park turns residential high-rise construction into the opportunity for more green space, and it lets you live in a home that is also a gigantic garden!

And last but not least, our very own Net Zero Home in Minto’s community; Arcadia!

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In Ottawa, our Arcadia community truly demonstrates Minto’s dedication to sustainable building design and techniques. We have exceeded the voluntary technical program requirements with our “Net Zero Energy Ready” homes. A Net Zero home means that in a given year, the home will produce as much energy as it uses. Projecting a 65 per cent reduction in total home energy consumption, the Net Zero home is positioned to further offset remaining energy use with the option to add solar panels post purchase. This is the first time a home like this has been offered to the average buyer! More importantly, our architectural and construction team has found unique and creative ways to conceal the green innovations in the design making the Net Zero home it appear quite typical and beautiful. Click here to read more about our Net Zero homes in Ottawa.

 
We hope you enjoyed all these innovative and amazing structures! Happy Earth week everyone!

 

Get Green: Green Living Tips for Your Home

With Earth Week this week, why not change some of your household habits for a greener lifestyle! Green living doesn’t mean you have to change your entire routine completely; by changing a few small things in your day to day activities, you can make a significant impact on the environment. We read up on some tips in Joanna Yarrow’s book, How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, to get some guidelines on green living. Here are a few easy tips that anyone can follow to reduce your carbon footprint at home and also save money!

 

Heating and Cooling

If you notice yourself turning up your heater higher than normal during windy winter days, you might be sitting in a draught. Twenty percent of heat loss in an average home seeps out through unsealed gaps. You can check for unsealed gaps by holding a lit candle around your windows or doorframes. If the candle flickers, it’s an indication that there is a draught that should be sealed.  Fixing draughts can also stop hot air from coming in during the summer when your air conditioning is on.

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Water Usage

Wasting water can be costly. Try washing your clothes one wash per week, and wash them at lower temperatures. This way you will use less energy and your clothes can last longer too! If you live in a house, capture rainwater that falls on your roof by connecting a water butt to a downpipe. This water can be used to water your lawn or garden.

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Lighting

Make the switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or LED lights. Each CFL uses only about a quarter the electricity of an incandescent bulb and they last ten times longer. You can also maximize your use of natural light. Paint your walls in light colours to brighten a room and keep curtains and blinds open during the day to bring in ample sunlight.

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Appliances

Shut off appliances when they’re not in use. Certain appliances like the television or computer use as much energy when left on standby as when they’re left on. And if you are using more than one device, plug them into a power strip; this way you can turn them all off with one switch.

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Minto homes and condos are designed to ensure lower costs, improved comfort and healthier living. Our homes are equipped with modern, energy-efficient appliances that conserve energy and water, which saves you money. Minto is committed to ensuring all new residential developments meet the standards of safe and green living.

And  now you can save on Green Features! Click here for coupons for Green Living products to use in your home.

Interested in learning more about Minto’s commitment to Green? Check out our Sustainability page, or learn more about each project’s Green Features on our Green Living pages on each project’s website.

 

© Kenya Bruce

Meet Roya – Minto’s Sustainable Design Professional

With Earth Week upon us, it’s inspiring to hear about the people that are making a difference in moving towards sustainable living. Minto has an entire Sustainability Team dedicated to incorporating ‘Green Living’ strategies into all of the work we do. We sat down with a lovely member of the Sustainability Team, Roya Khaleeli, to find out more about her work as a Sustainable Design Professional.Roya Minto Sustainability

Roya has been at Minto for just over three years now. She didn’t always work in sustainability though – she started out as a mechanical engineer, working in the automotive industry. But reading the book “Natural Capitalism” (by Paul Hawken) motivated Roya to change her career path. “I was inspired by the idea that there could be a different way of doing business which enables doing good by doing well,” she tells us. After getting her Masters in Sweden in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability, Roya worked as a Sustainability Consultant in London, UK, for over four years. When she came back to Toronto, Roya started her role with Minto’s Sustainability Team. It was a 10 year journey, but she says she’s lucky in terms of timing because there are many more jobs in sustainability now than there was when she started looking into it in 2002.

Roya’s role is focused primarily in the GTA where she works on embedding sustainable design practices into Minto’s communities.  She collaborates with the design teams early on in each project to develop the strategy, which considers the particular market, the local green requirements, relevant third party building standards and opportunities for innovation. “It is critical that we approach our work in a way that is congruent with profitable business,” she says. Having involvement early on in the development process ensures that the green strategies are delivered while still remaining competitive in the marketplace.

Minto Sustainability

Once the strategy is approved, part of her work is to train site staff to ensure the value is communicated to home buyers. “While some features deliver utility cost savings, others provide greater comfort, improved health or community connections,” she explains. “We also believe there are some features that can only be included through the quality of the construction process. Having a well-made air tight envelope is almost impossible to add after the home has been built as compared to granite countertops which can be added at any point.”

So far, Roya’s favorite project has been Minto Southshore. “It was a complex product to build and we set progressive targets for air tightness and we learned a lot in the process.” The team faced the challenge head on and Minto Southshore is what Roya describes as, “a beautiful space that allows home owners to live with a lesser impact on the environment, without even being aware of it. This is one of the main reasons I get so excited about my job.” Minto Southshore built upon the learning gained from Minto Caledonia Towns on the Park project, and Minto Longbranch will now be following in the footsteps of Minto Southshore.

Minto Southshore

As sustainable living is becoming more important in land development, we asked Roya what Green Living trends she sees will become prevalent in home building in the future.  With the growing popularity of electric vehicles, she sees having electric vehicle charging stations on site as becoming more common. Minto already provides the basic infrastructure to support the future installation of electric vehicle charging stations at 775 King, and within the other five high rise projects that have launched since. Beyond improving energy performance, the target of Net Zero Energy buildings and greater water efficiency, another issue she sees becoming significant is a focus on design for better communities. With the introduction of standards such as LEED for Neighbourhood Development and BREEAM Communities (in the UK) she sees attention being directed towards designing communities to be more walkable, encouraging healthy lifestyles, and with greater access to services. On a more personal note, Roya would like to see “more community garden and food growing spaces included within projects; however, this requires demand from the market” which she hopes to see in the near future.

MInto 775 King Exterior Bike Parking

In her spare time, Roya has a number of hobbies that keep her busy. She is an avid tennis player, and just began taking tango lessons. Family is important to her, and she likes nothing better than enjoying really good food with great company. She also supports Habitat for Humanity where she volunteers once a month to build homes in the Toronto area, continuing her commitment to sustainable living.

Interested in learning more about Minto’s commitment to Green? Check out our Sustainability page, or learn more about each project’s Green Features on our Green Living pages on each project’s website.

Minto’s Commitment to Quality and Sustainability

Minto Sustainability

Minto has always had a strong commitment to quality. In 2009 we took this one step further by committing to providing third-party inspection and certification on every home we build. And because we know a third party will be inspecting everything we build, we spend time testing the homes ourselves at various stages of the building process. That way if we find any issues along the way, we can make changes as we build so that the home is built properly from the start.

This testing and inspecting process is led by our fearless Sustainability Team.  Like a research and development program, our Sustainability team is continually taking results of tests and feeding them into the designs of our projects, so that we’re constantly improving on everything we build. “The time it takes to build a home is short compared to the length that it is lived in, and so we want to ensure that it performs well over a long period of time, as it is intended to do” says Wells Baker, our Director of Conservation and Sustainable Design.

For a home owner, having your Minto home built with such quality has benefits. Since Minto always strives to be superior to building code, we are always ahead of the game as codes get better. “It ensures that when we build a home today, it is still built to code years from now, which retains the value in your home” explains Derek Hickson, our Manager of Sustainable Developments.

With a home that surpasses code, Minto ensures that everything we build is energy efficient, comfortable, and healthy for living. One leak in a home can impact the whole living experience, causing condensation, mold, and consequentially, health issues for those living there. Learn more about the benefits of our sustainable homes here.

Check out our video below to see how we test on things like a home’s “envelope”. The envelope needs to be built correctly right from the start, because unlike painting walls or installing new cabinetry, the house’s envelope can’t easily be changed once it’s built. Testing the envelope is just another way that Minto ensures that your home is built to the highest of standards!

Find out more about the benefits of Minto’s green features.