Fairmont Royal York receives zero carbon building certification

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Fairmont Royal York hotel in Toronto has received the Canada Green Building Council’s (CAGBC’s) Zero Carbon Building – Performance Standard certification.

It is estimated that the renovations will reduce over 7,000 tonnes of carbon annually or 80 per cent of the hotel’s annual carbon emissions, the equivalent of taking 1,558 cars off the road.

“Fairmont Royal York’s decarbonization demonstrates the potential to complete a large and complex project in a way that is environmentally impactful, socially responsible and economically viable,” Jon Love, founder and CEO of KingSett Capital, said in a statement. “It is a compelling example of what can be accomplished through collaboration, innovation and creativity.

“This complex project would not have been possible without our strong partnership with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), PCL Construction, and Enwave Energy Corporation.”

The decarbonization project represents the largest heritage hotel retrofit of its kind within the Fairmont global brand portfolio and offers a definitive roadmap for creating sustainable energy sources for similar properties.

The project employed over 70,000 hours of labour, creating opportunities for skilled workers.

“Congratulations to KingSett Capital and Fairmont Royal York on this industry-leading achievement,” said Marc Pascoli, senior vice-president, PCL Constructors Canada Inc. “As evidenced on this project, if a 94-year-old heritage asset can be decarbonized to achieve energy efficiency targets that reduce annual carbon emissions by 80 per cent, the possibilities are endless.

“With forward-thinking leadership and a positive mindset, investment, strategic partnerships, and a passionate pursuit of shared goals, PCL and our partners are proud to help chart the path to net zero.”

Renovations to the lobby, guestrooms, Fairmont Gold offering, award-winning dining venues and event spaces reflect the hotel’s transformation and enhance this destination’s global consumer appeal as a world-class luxury hotel in Canada’s financial centre.

Fairmont Royal York achieving Zero Carbon Building Performance certification is another transformative step in repositioning this unique icon in Toronto’s downtown core,” Edwin Frizzell, regional vice-president, Fairmont Royal York, said in the news release.

“Decarbonizing a 94-year-old heritage building and retrofitting the hotel’s energy systems to be highly energy efficient was a complex challenge. We’ve proven that it can be done.”

The Zero Carbon project advances KingSett’s sustainability strategy and leadership in the Canadian real estate market while adding strength and resilience to one of KingSett’s key assets. It adds to KingSett’s broader decarbonization strategy of decarbonizing over 5.4 million square feet of Canadian real estate, reducing 35% of carbon emissions over 2019 baseline by 2027 in its core fund.

The publicity statement offered additional details:

  • The Fairmont Royal York decarbonization project will remove over 165,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from execution in 2023 to 2050.
  • The reduction of carbon emissions will generate over 35% of utility savings in the first year.
  • All carbon emissions reductions will be independently verified by the CIB’s verifiers, as well as through the CAGBC.
  • All spending and project impacts were independently verified through the CAGBC’s Investor Ready Energy Efficiency (IREE) certification program.
  • The building’s path to the CAGBC’s Zero Carbon Building – Performance Standard certification was achieved by:

–   Detailed study and analysis of building energy load, seeking to effect meaningful efficiencies,

–   Converting heating and domestic hot water from steam to electric heat pumps,

–   Converting cooling from electrical/chillers to deep lake water cooling, and

–   Significantly improving energy efficiency with a centralized building automation system and smart technologies.

  • The project has employed over 70,000 hours of labour, creating valuable job opportunities for skilled workers and showing how environmental responsibility and economic benefits can work hand in hand.


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