What makes a building sustainable?

Looking into U of T's LEED-certified buildings

What makes a building sustainable?

The University of Toronto plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 37 per cent from its 1990 levels by 2030. This is part of the University Climate Change Coalition commitment, which U of T joined in February.

According to Ron Saporta, U of T’s Chief Operations Officer of Facilities and Services, around 50,000 metric tonnes of carbon emissions have been eliminated in the past ten years on the St. George campus alone.

Making changes to existing infrastrcture poses challenges, but according to Saporta, no challenge is insurmountable, and those that arise are expected from a campus of this size and age.

A new greenhouse gas project is in the works on all three campuses, part of an overarching project that is anticipated to be completed by the end of next March.

The Athletic Centre at UTSG will also acquire photovoltaic and photothermal panels, and a new 14-storey academic tower made of timber will be built above the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.

Already, there are many sustainable buildings at U of T, 12 of which have attained a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) awards these ratings based on the type of building being assessed.

The Varsity ranked each of these buildings according to a standardized percentage score, calculated from comparing the points awarded to each building by LEED to a total possible number of points for each criteria.

Among the following buildings, six have Gold certification and four have Silver. Out of all certifications granted by the CaGBC, Platinum is the highest, followed by Gold, Silver, and Credited as the lowest.

Exam Centre (UTSG)

LEED Rating: Gold 63%

Certified in 2009, the Exam Centre uses rainwater to reduce water consumption by 62 per cent. In 2017, the addition of photovoltaic solar panels successfully lowered electricity needs, generating 75,000 kW-hours per year. The green wall on the first floor acts as a natural air cleaner.

Lassonde Mining Building (UTSG)

LEED Rating: Gold 61.4%

The Lassonde Mining Building was renovated in November of 2011, converting unused spaces such as the attic into “student design studios,” teaching spaces, and even a rooftop meeting room. Photovoltaic panels produce energy required for lighting and technology in the Goldcorp Mining Innovation Suite. Other measures such as thermal buffer zones for improved insulation, automated smart blinds, and skylights were also implemented to minimize energy consumption.

Environmental Science and Chemistry Building (UTSC)

LEED Rating: Gold 58.2%

This building houses UTSC’s Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences and features 2,890 square metres of research and teaching labs. An earth tube system ventilates the building while a geothermal pump cools and heats it. Materials with low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), such as paint and adhesives, were used in addition to low-flow plumbing and rain water usage to reduce the building’s carbon footprint. Other green features include glazing on the windows to reduce heat transfer, electric vehicle charging stations, and a green roof.

Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (UTSC)

LEED Rating: Gold 57.3%

This high performance sports facility was built with 30 per cent recyclable material. 95 per cent of all construction waste was diverted from landfills, and instead recycled, reused, or composted. The Sports Centre also uses geothermal heating, which supports 40 per cent of the building’s heating and 99 per cent of cooling demands. Its 1,854 solar panels generate enough energy to power 20 standard homes a year. As well, the building consumes around 37 per cent less water than a standard building of its size, and saves around 1.8 million liters of water per year.

Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex (UTM)

LEED Rating: Gold 57.1%

The Health Sciences Complex was built in 2011 using low-emitting materials, which contribute to better indoor environmental quality. The building’s underground cistern houses rainwater for irrigation that has helped reduce water consumption by 50 per cent. Stainless steel panels were also configured to provide insulation during the winter, and the building’s exterior was designed to prevent heat gain to eliminate the need for cooling systems. The central district energy plant also eliminated the need for independent boilers, chillers, and cooling towers.

Rotman School of Management – South Building (UTSG)

LEED Rating: Gold 55.7%

The building features nine stories connected to existing Victorian era infrastructure, with measures to prevent the heat island effect, such as the rooftop garden, use of 30 per cent less water, and optimized energy performance. The building also diverted 75 per cent of its waste away from landfills, and used 32 per cent locally processed and manufactured materials in its construction.

Instructional Building (UTM)

LEED Rating: Silver 52.9%

The UTM Instructional Building was finalized in 2011, complete with a geothermal heat pump which stores heat in the ground during the summer and uses it in the winter to supply heating and cooling systems. A small amount of electricity is used to run the underground pumps, located in the wells field. A 21 kilowatt solar electric system is also in place, and solar panels reduce the cooling load. Other energy-efficient initiatives in place include using computers, lighting, and tech equipment with minimal waste, as well as using the orientation of the building to maximize on natural light. The building itself is made from local material that is durable, and renewable or recycled.

Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre (UTM)

LEED Rating: Silver 50%

This 24 hour building opened in 2007 on the site of an old parking lot, and is one of the 44 libraries at the university. It is home to an electronic shelving system that allows shelves to move on a track, and maintains a rooftop garden, which helps to counteract the urban heat island effect. It also has low-emitting building materials and low-flow plumbing to improve air quality and reduce water usage. A green cleaning program has been implemented, among other operations that target indoor air quality.

Munk School of Global Affairs (UTSG)

LEED Rating: Silver 47.1%

After renovations in 2012, the building features new green aspects like measures to reduce water use by 30 per cent, contribute to ozone protection, and use innovative designs such as low mercury lamps. The renovation of the building itself used low-emitting material, and diverted at least 75 per cent of water from the landfill. Part of the building was also built with wood, a sustainable resource.

Innovation Complex (UTM)

LEED Rating: Silver 45.5%

The Innovation Complex houses offices, classrooms, and study rooms. There is a green roof, a system of low-flow plumbing fixtures, and ample natural light to enhance energy savings. In addition, a number of exterior “fins” prevent heat retention and reduce the need for cooling energy. The Complex also features efficient lighting fixtures that sense when a room is empty and automatically turn off.

The Breakdown: Incidental fees for full-time undergraduate Arts & Science students

Looking into what your money goes to, where you can opt out

The Breakdown: Incidental fees for full-time undergraduate Arts & Science students

Among the issues that university students both love and hate to discuss, tuition often tops the list. But in paying for university, students are not just paying for the ability to go to class and receive a degree. Bundled up within the tuition fees are hundreds of dollars of non-academic incidental fees that all students pay, which give access to various services on campus, including health care, athletic facilities, and campus publications.

Some of these incidental fees are mandatory, but others include an opt-out option. The Varsity has put together a roundup of all the incidental fees that undergraduate Arts & Science students have to pay, including the ones that aren’t compulsory.

This article is based on numbers from the 2017–2018 school year, and it only refers to fees paid for the fall and winter sessions by full-time students. Some fees, including The Varsity’s, may have changed for the 2018–2019 school year. Visit thevarsity.ca for a more in-depth look.

Universal fees

Almost all students at U of T have four fees in common, though they may have varying amounts. These fees go toward U of T Community Radio, The Varsity, Hart House, and Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE) Co-Curricular Programs, Services, and Facilities. None of these fees have an opt-out option.

UTM Arts & Science

All undergraduate UTM students in the arts and science divisions pay 14 incidental fees, totalling $772.46 in the fall and winter sessions each.

UTM students pay six fees to access university-operated services. These include KPE Co-Curricular Programs, Services, and Facilities, as well as Physical Education & Athletics, Hart House, Health Service, Student Services, and Summer Shuttle Services.

Besides these universal fees, there are six fees for student societies: the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), The Medium, the U of T at Mississauga Athletics Council, Vibe Radio, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), and the Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students (APUS).

UTM students belong to both the UTSU and the UTMSU — though the agreement is currently under negotiation — and thus have to pay fees to both. The largest of these fees goes toward the UTSU, at $196.32 in the fall and winter sessions each. The largest portion of the UTSU fee — $162.28 — pays for a health and dental plan, which students can opt out of.

Of the remaining amount, $5.57 is refundable.

UTSU Mississauga
Society $18.76
Radio $0.00
Blue SKy Solar Racing Car Team* $0.13
Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) & CFS-Ontario $7.93
Day Care Subsidy* $0.50
Downtown Legal Services* $1.06
Foster Children Program $0.05
Health Initiatives in Developing Countries* $0.25
Orientation * $0.50
Radical Roots* $0.15
Student Refugee Program $0.71
UTM Sexual Education Centre* $1.00
UTM Women’s Centre* $1.00
Wheelchair Accessibility Projects $1.00
Women’s Centre* $0.50
UofT Environmental Resource Network* $0.50
Accident & Prescription Drug Insurance Plan** $88.39
Dental Plan** $73.89
Total $196.32

 

* indicates the fee is refundable.

** indicates the fee is refundable, with proof of comparable coverage.

The second highest student society fee is for the UTMSU, at $143.26 in the fall and winter sessions each. Of that amount, $108.28 pays for the U-Pass, and the rest of it goes toward various smaller groups, such as a food bank and the student refugee program.

The only refundable UTMSU fee is its $3.25 per session Blind Duck Pub fee.

UTMSU
Society $14.64
Student Centre Levy $12.50
On-Campus First Aid Emergency Response $0.55
Blind Duck Pub*** $3.25
Club Funding and Resources $1.26
Mississauga Transit Upass $108.28
Academic Societies $1.06
Food Bank $0.58
Student Refugee Program $1.14
Total $143.86

 

*** indicates the fee is refundable, on a per session basis.

UTSC Arts & Science

All undergraduate UTSC students in the arts and science divisions pay 12 incidental fees, totalling $839.22 in the fall and winter sessions each.

UTSC students pay five fees to access university-operated services. These include Hart House, Health Service, Student Services, the Scarborough College Athletic Fee, and KPE Co-Curricular Programs, Services, and Facilities.

Besides these universal fees, there are five fees for student societies: Scarborough Campus Students’ Council (SCSU), Scarborough College Athletic Association, Scarborough Campus Community Radio, and APUS, as well as Scarborough Campus Students’ Press, which publishes The Underground.

The largest of these fees goes toward the SCSU, at $410.24 in the fall and winter sessions each. Of that amount, $172.97 pays for a health and dental plan, which students can opt out of.

The second-highest amount pays for the UTSC Sports & Recreation Complex Levy, at $157.48 in the fall and winter sessions each. Of the remaining amount, $4.13 is refundable.

Parts of the SCSU fee goes toward various smaller groups and initiatives, such as a Wheelchair Accessibility Projects fund and a Foster Children Program fund.

SCSU
Society $26.38
Refugee Student Program $0.75
Student Centre $39.31
College Co-ed Fitness Centre $0.00
Women’s Centre* $1.50
Downtown Legal Services* $0.50
Orientation* $0.50
Blue Sky Solar Car Team* $0.13
Day Care Subsidy* $0.50
Wheelchair Accessibility Projects $1.00
Refugee Student Fund $0.30
Health Initiatives in Developing Countries* $0.25
Foster Children Program $0.05
UofT Enviornmental Resource Network* $0.25
Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) & CFS-Ontatio $7.87
Frontier College Students for Literacy – UTSC $0.50
UTSC Sports and Recreation Levy $157.48
Accident & Prescription Drug Insurance Plan** $78.40
Dental Plan** $94.57
Total $410.24

 

* indicates the fee is refundable.

** indicates the fee is refundable, with proof of comparable coverage.

UTSG Arts & Science by college

Undergraduate students in arts and science programs at UTSG pay eight identical fees, plus one college specific fee.

The eight fees are for the UTSU, APUS, Arts & Science Students’ Union, U of T Community Radio, The Varsity, Hart House, Student Life Programs & Services, and KPE Co-Curricular Programs, Services, and Facilities. These fees total $652.18.

The largest of these fees goes toward the UTSU, at $410.24 for the fall and winter sessions. The largest portion of the UTSU fee — $172.97 — pays for a health and dental plan, which students can opt out of.

Of the remaining amount, $12.24 is refundable.

The UTSU fee pays for organizations and initiatives such as the Ontario Public Interest Research Group, the Sexual Education & Peer Counselling Centre, and the University of Toronto Aerospace Team.

UTSG Arts & Sciences
Society $26.38
Refugee Student Program $0.75
Student Centre $39.31
College Coed Fitness Centre $0
Women’s Centre* $1.50
Downtown Legal Services* $0.50
Orientation* $0.50
Blue SKy Solar Car Team* $0.13
Day Care Subsidy* $0.50
Wheelchair Accessibility Projects* $1.00
Refugee Student Fund $0.30
Health Initiatives in Developing Countries* $0.25
Foster Children Program $0.05
UofT Enviornmental Resource Network* $0.25
Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) & CFS-Ontario $7.87
Frontier College Students for Literacy – UTSC $0.50
UTSC Sports & Recreation Complex Levy $157.48
Accident & Prescription Drug Insurance Plan** $78.40
Dental Plan** $94.57
Total $410.24

 

* indicates the fee is refundable.

** indicates the fee is refundable, with proof of comparable coverage.

Innis students pay $41.53 for the Innis College Student Society and the Innis College Student Services Fee.

New College students pay $30.00 for the New College Student Council.

University College students pay $30.03 for the University College Literary & Athletic Society.

Woodsworth students pay $7.50 for the Woodsworth College Students’ Association.

St. Michael’s College students pay $132.02 for the St. Michael’s College Student Union, The Mike, a College Fee, and a Campaign Fee.

Trinity students pay $216.13 for the Trinity College Meeting and a College Fee.

Victoria students pay $243.76 for the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council, the Victoria University Student Services Fee, Goldring Student Centre, and the Victoria Commuter Package.

Stay tuned for more breakdowns of graduate student and professional faculty student fees.

The Breakdown: Orientation weeks 2018

A look at the more niche events you may have missed

The Breakdown: Orientation weeks 2018

Orientation week brought in tens of thousands of eager first-year students at three campuses, seven colleges, and numerous faculties. While large frosh events, such as those organized by the colleges and faculties, brought together the class of 2022, several student organizations and unions created their own events catering to smaller groups on campus. The Varsity spoke to some of the organizers involved in these smaller and niche orientations.

Though some colleges organized their own LGBTQ+ friendly events, the Sexual & Gender Diversity Office is hosting a Queer Orientation for students who identify as LGBTQ+ from September 24–29.

Over 42 events will be taking place at all three campuses including a Queer & Trans Students of Colour Discussion and Social, as well as a session in collaboration with the Multi-Faith Centre, titled “What is Qu(e)erying Religion?”

A smaller orientation was also held for mature and transfer students on September 4–5, with information sessions on campus resources at U of T.

SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

UTM

This year, the Mississauga campus is expected to welcome its largest incoming class ever.

In the weeks leading up to the start of school, UTM hosted orientation events catering to international students, as well as for parents and families of incoming first-year students.

The international student orientation took place on September 8, and it was a collaboration between the Centre for Student Engagement and the International Education Centre.

The event was not just for incoming international students, but also those new to Canada including permanent residents, landed immigrants, refugees, and newcomers with international experience who might be otherwise considered domestic students.

UTM’s International Student Orientation was the first of its kind on the campus, emerging from a user survey and feedback from the university’s international student centre. Programming included panels on social and cultural adjustment in Canada, as well as finding necessary information for immigration requirements.

“The International and New-to-Canada Student Orientation program [offered] opportunities for students to meet students with similar interests through interactive activities, learn about on/off campus services, and hear from students and alumni from UTM about how to succeed as both an international and new-to-Canada student,” said Dale Mullings, Assistant Dean of Students & International Initiatives at UTM, in an email to The Varsity.

Another similar orientation session for students new to Canada will be held on September 19 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm for those who otherwise could not attend the first event, typically due to study permit issues.

UTM’s Parent and Family Orientation, held on September 1, saw more than 700 families of incoming students. The orientation aimed to connect families and students to academic and personal resources on campus. Panels were held on specific subjects, including “Residence Parents and Families,” “Engagement Outside the Classroom,” and “University Fees and Financial Aid.” A special session was held for parents of newcomer students providing resources for immigrant services.

SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

UTSC

The Scarborough campus is also hosting an International Student Orientation, with programming scheduled from September 4–17.

“The International Student Centre has been organizing UTSC International Orientation for over 10 years,” wrote Don Campbell, Media Relations Officer at UTSC, in an email to The Varsity.

“Each incoming international student is invited to an orientation workshop where they learn about [the University Health Insurance Plan], international programs and services, and review any immigration information they might need.”

Orientation programming at UTSC’s International Student Orientation included trips to local malls, downtown Toronto attractions, and an excursion to Niagara Falls. Students will also be matched with International Student Advisors throughout the first semester to discuss important subjects such as exam preparation, immigration information, and overall guidance.

City of Toronto releases updated St. George Secondary Plan report

Councillor Joe Cressy proposes amendments to enforce conformity with zoning laws

City of Toronto releases updated St. George Secondary Plan report

A municipal staff status report to City Council is recommending that new developments within UTSG prioritize pedestrians and cyclists, adhere to distinct attributes of newly proposed “Character Areas,” and preserve existing heritage buildings while expanding open and public spaces.

The report is a part of the City of Toronto’s Secondary Plan for UTSG, which provides a planning framework to manage changes and new developments on campus. It outlines specific policies on how the land can be used and how future projects should be laid out.

Two amendments to the status report proposed by Councillor Joe Cressy of Ward 20 Trinity—Spadina were also passed at the Toronto and East York Community Council, which represents the area that UTSG is located in. The amendments were passed without discussion on July 4.

One of the changes requested that city staff report on U of T properties adjacent to the campus, and to report “on the controls that are necessary to ensure conformity with existing Neighbourhood zoning.”

Cressy’s second amendment also requested city staff report on ways to enforce zoning rules, and it stated that “if/when the University acquires property in adjacent neighbourhoods that any exemptions… are not transferred with the University’s title to their off-campus neighbourhood holdings.”

This amendment effectively means that any exemptions U of T currently has with regards to zoning will not be applied to any future developments outside of existing UTSG boundaries.

The status report is the second preliminary report completed by city officials. The Toronto and East York Community Council initially adopted a motion to begin public consultation on the Secondary Plan in early 2017.

The new Secondary Plan was proposed with the goal of developing the areas in and around the university with flexibility — in other words, preserving historically significant buildings while adapting to the institution’s growing needs.

Community responses

When contacted by The Varsity, Cressy said the Secondary Plan was still in its preliminary stages and the final report has not yet been submitted, with consultations still ongoing.

“The Secondary Plan and all the details will be coming back in the new year and so there are questions outstanding related to properties outside of the Secondary Plan area,” he said. “As part of the Secondary Plan review, we want staff to report on whether those mechanisms are needed or not.”

Cressy said that he’s met with the university to consult on the plan approximately 20 times, and that the plan has undergone an “extensive process.”

“I think there were vast, vast improvements in how the university is considering issues like heritage protection, public realm, movements, and walkability,” said Cressy. “In many ways the St. George campus holds some of the best public realm and green spaces in all of the city and it’s a jewel.”

Christine Burke, U of T Director of Campus and Facilities Planning, said that the university wasn’t consulted on the amendments.

“We haven’t responded because those are items that will come up in the next few months and when it comes before [the Toronto and East York Community Council] and council,” said Burke. “But no, the university wasn’t consulted on the amendments and we haven’t discussed them with the city at this time, but we’re happy to do so. We don’t anticipate any impact whatsoever from these additional resolutions.”

Cressy added, “We want to ensure that as the city continues to grow, that collectively the university and the city can benefit from this historic campus.”

According to Burke, the next step for U of T is to start receiving details about the plan from city planning staff. The final report is expected in early 2019.