A Pinnacle of Sustainable Building Practice
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) represents over 76,000 teachers and other education professionals in the province of Ontario. The ETFO headquarters was conceived to be a pinnacle of sustainable building practice with goals for a minimum 60 percent energy reduction over the MNECB (Model National Energy Code for Buildings), and LEED Platinum certification. While providing a welcoming home for ETFO, this new office also creates a highly sustainable and efficient green building using architecture as an educational opportunity for greener design, and achieves effective neighbourhood integration and signature architecture.
SiteThe project is located in the Upper Jarvis neighbourhood, a small enclave of Victorian homes in downtown Toronto designated as a community in transition. It is surrounded by high-rise commercial and condominium towers; a social housing complex; the massive Rogers Communication Headquarters; a nine-storey, 1970s-era rental apartment building; and Casey House, Toronto’s first AIDS hospice complex. Proximity to public transit and the downtown core made this an ideal location for ETFO.
Program The 11,250-square-metre owner-occupied office building includes training and conference facilities, flexible event space for the owner on the ground floor with office and support spaces on the upper floors.
Concept The design knits together the divergent set of conditions that characterize the neighbourhood. It is sited to preserve the existing tree canopy as a natural shading device. The massing responds to the scale of Victorian residences to the west. A large black walnut tree was retained by creating a west-facing tree court. The landscape strategy includes a series of ‘front yard’ sized gardens to relate to the sidewalk. A publicly accessible front porch harmonizes the building into the residential context. Large roof overhangs provide passive shade and allow winter light to penetrate deep into the floor plate.
Materials A facade of vision glazing, fibre-cement panels and vertical sunshade fins reduces solar gains. For south and west facades, late-day solar gains are countered by a fully automated exterior shading blind system — one of the only large-scale applications in Canada. Passive solar shading fins and panels are detailed to provide a finer texture and scale to the articulated facade. Large, brick-coloured fibre-cement panels and muted warm greys complement adjacent heritage buildings.
Outcome As the greenest and most energy-efficient, purpose-built office building in the Toronto region, the new ETFO headquarters is a model for other organizations to take action and confront energy-climate challenges. As a counterpoint to rapid high-rise urbanization, it reinforces the importance of designing buildings for the long term and as a strategy to manage urban growth.
The ETFO Virtual Tour
This virtual tour highlights many of the ETFO building’s extensive green features. Click the thumbnail images to view short videos about these features.
ETFO has one of the most sustainable new buildings anywhere. This building design re-thinks the way that buildings operate, and re-builds strategies from the ground up.
The primary focus here is the occupant. Comfortable, healthy, efficient and highly effective, the ETFO building sets a new workplace standard, and challenges all others to follow its lead.
Following a review by the Canada Green Building Council, the ETFO building was awarded a total of 56 LEED points, making the ETFO headquarters the first new Toronto building to achieve LEED Platinum, the highest possible rating.
Using less water made easy
At ETFO, a variety of water-reduction measures have been implemented, from rainwater harvesting for irrigation and flushing toilets, to low flow and automatic fixtures. Overall, these strategies save more than 600,000 liters of water annually, with occupants hardly noticing the difference at all.
Dry landscaping that looks lush
At ETFO, the irrigation design is such that no potable water is used in any of the green spaces. This is achieved by using drought-resistant species on the green roof areas and harvesting of rainwater to provide the necessary irrigation requirements at the ground level. These strategies eliminate the use of potable water for irrigation, while maintaining the attractive lush look of the gardens in the main level through the drier months.
Dig deep and plug into nature
ETFO has implemented an extensive geothermal set-up capable of producing heating and cooling at a 360% efficiency by using a VERY deep system, going 50 storeys, or 150m (the height of the CIBC building) into the ground. The system achieved a 71% reduction in heating and cooling energy, effectively reducing the building’s environmental impact and utility costs without compromising occupant comfort.
Nothing is greener than green
The ETFO building features an extensive green roof covering 68% of the available roof area which has a number of benefits, including a reduction of storm water runoff and heat island effect, and the creation of a natural habitat. In addition, the green roof provides a connection between occupants and the natural environment.
Find the sunlight always, everywhere
The design of the new ETFO building introduces natural daylight to virtually all spaces on site through the use of floor-to-ceiling glazing and a full height glazed atrium. These daylight strategies and the implementation of views to the exterior provide a comfortable and engaging working space for occupants.
Build smart, build safe
The ETFO building includes a number of green materials. This includes fully or partially recycled elements such as structural concrete and carpeting. All interior finishes are non-toxic, and almost half of the materials used in the construction of the building are local materials. Some elements even serve to regenerate the environment around them, as is the case with the green roof, producing breathable air and encouraging biodiversity and ecosystem development.
Number 1 priority: the occupant
At ETFO, a great deal of work has gone into ensuring occupant comfort. Raised floors and drop ceilings work as the air distribution system, providing fresh tempered air wherever it is needed. Suspended radiant panels maintain a comfortable office temperature without introducing drafts. Finally, operable windows allow occupants to modulate the temperature and fresh air of their individual spaces. All these strategies make this workspace more enjoyable.
Save the environment, save money
ETFO has achieved a 57% energy reduction, which results in a cost reduction of 64% across all systems, while simultaneously increasing occupant comfort and reducing environmental impact. This makes the new ETFO headquarters cheaper to run and better for the planet.
Getting there on less than 3 dollars
ETFO's urban location renders it readily accessible via public transportation. Cycling is also encouraged through the implementation of bicycle storage, lockers, and dedicated shower facilities. Even in circumstances where other means of transportation are not feasible, electric vehicle charging stations have been provided, discouraging the use of fossil fuels. All these make the new ETFO building more accessible to its occupants and reduce their ecological footprint.