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high performance building

River City Phases 1 & 2, Toronto


Jury comments: A brownfield project that stands out for its emphasis on a mix of unit types, the quality of its public realm, and its success in promoting shared car and transit use. The provision of individually metered power, heat and water fosters a culture of conservation among residents. The balanced design response to the mandated LEED gold requirement has resulted in a project whose performance is exemplary for its size.

River City is a four-phase residential development located on one of Toronto’s largest downtown, brownfield sites, and is the first private sector building development in the West Don Lands. Under the development management of Waterfront Toronto, the site master plan was conceptualized in 2005 as a LEED Gold community and a demonstrable example of sustainable development on a neighbourhood scale. Once completed in 2020, River City will contain 1,074 residential units and over 1 million square feet of LEED Gold certified development.

The focus on sustainability extends from initial site selection to the individual amenities. The site is accessible by transit and bicycle, and its position ties Corktown [one of Toronto’s oldest neighbourhoods] to the Distillery District, in turn completing the connection of the multiple neighbourhoods in the downtown core. It successfully engages the city, linking a public realm of pedestrian-friendly streets and exceptional parks with an architecture inspired by flow, move-ment and continuity.

The goal was the creation of a self-sustaining community that embraced the unique features that River City had to offer. Thus, while the ease of access to public transit would help incentivize alternate forms of travel on their own, all new residents of River City receive a free one-year membership in a low-emitting car sharing program available on-site, reducing demand for individual cars, and associated greenhouse gas emissions.

This was particularly important at River City where, because it sits within the flood plain of the Don river, no underground structures were permitted. The design team negotiated a reduction in the parking requirement of 50%, and provided this in an above-grade structure located between the Phase 1 and Phase 2 buildings. The streets that border River City are in fact pedestrian priority laneways called woonerfs, modelled after European urban centres designed to encourage community interaction.

River City Phase 1 & 2 contains 600 individual condominium units, and all of them assist in conserving water through the use of low-flow plumbing fixtures. On their own, the low-flow plumbing fixtures are projected to save over 17 million litres of water annually. Furthermore, residents are billed individually for their own cold and hot water usage, encouraging them to monitor and reduce their own consumption. Within the building, a rainwater harvesting system further reduc-es the site’s demand upon the city’s water supply.

Project Credits
Owner Urban Capital
Architects ZAS Architects Joint Venture Architects  Saucier + Perrotte architectes
Structural Engineer MMM/WSP
Mechanical/Electrical Engineer Smith & Andersen
Commissioning Agent Adjeleian Rubeli Ltd.
Civil Engineer RV Andersen
Landscape Architect Planning Partnership
General Contractor Blues Cape
Photos Jose Uribe/Pureblink

Project Performance
Energy intensity 208 kWh/m²/year
Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under MNECB 1997 48%
Potable water consumption from municipal sources 27,390 L/occupant/year
Reduction in potable water consumption relative to reference building 46%
Regional materials content [as defined by LEED] by value 24%
Reclaimed and recycled materials by value 6%
Construction waste diverted from landfill 81%

Supplier: Zinco green roof [sedum carpet and perennial garden].