"North America's Greenest Hostel" Opening in Toronto Soon

Tom Rand, green entrepreneur and author of Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit:10 Clean Technologies to Save Our World, practices what he preaches. He and hostelier Anthony Aarts are opening what is being called "North America's greenest hostel" this month and it goes a lot farther than Pablo's answer to the question "what makes a hotel green?"

The Planet Traveler hostel is built on a streetcar line in a walkable district of Toronto, in a retrofit of an historic building with teensy hostel rooms, (dorms starting at C$30 per night) so it already is greener than just about any big new green hotel in the suburbs of Scottsdale.

Then the Gizmo Green kicks in.

slice of globe and mail drawing image

Part of terrific info-graphic in the Globe and Mail Here

The key move is the installation is a ground source heat pump system with eight loops 350 feet deep. But like most downtown properties, the building covered the entire lot, and the loops had to be drilled in the adjacent back lane, under public property. This just isn't done in Toronto, so Tom Rand had to spend months fighting through city hall to get approval of 14 different departments. According to the Globe and Mail, the City is now setting up a task force to "to streamline geothermal development in city-owned alleyways and parkland."

According to Energyboom, other strategies include the installation of Powerpipes to recapture the heat from showers, Solar thermal heaters on the roof for hot water, and a 4.7 kilowatt array of photovoltaics that also act as the awning over the patio. The electrical load for every single one of the LEDs that provide all of the lighting in the building totals 1,600 watts.

Tom Rand estimates that these moves will reduce energy consumption by 75%.

MaRS Best Practices - Green or Green Wash? Lessons from building North America's greenest hotel in Toronto from MaRS Discovery District on Vimeo.

Tom hasn't even put a number to the embodied energy saved by repurposing an existing building, by doing a hostel where the square footage per person is so much lower than a conventional hotel, by building without parking and for a clientele that tends to walk or take the streetcar. Everyone loves the green gizmos, but those choices are just as important in the bigger picture of building green businesses and buildings.

More in the Globe and Mail

Why I use the term "Ground Source Heat Pump" Instead of Geothermal like Tom Rand and the Globe and Mail:

Jargon Watch: Geothermal vs Ground Source Heat Pump

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