F O R B U I L D I N G O W N E R S , A S S E T A N D P R O P E R T Y M A N AG E R S
VOL. 23 NO. 3 â&#x20AC;¢ JUNE 2016
SPECIAL LANDSCAPING SUPPLEMENT LIGHTING MAINTENANCE LDC CONSERVATION OBLIGATIONS
SETTING A STANDARD FOR HUMAN WELLNESS
PA R T O F T H E
Creating healthier and happier workspaces
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
CONTENTS COVER STORY
SETTING A STANDARD FOR HUMAN WELLNESS Interest growing in healthier, happier workspaces
IN THIS ISSUE
CONSERVATION OBLIGATIONS WEIGH ON LDCS
SPECIAL LANDSCAPING SUPPLEMENT
Current supply glut adds paradoxical dimension to energy saving targets
TIPS FOR LIGHTING MAINTENANCE Expert advice for staying bright
The value of first impressions
GTA & BEYOND
THIS MONTHâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S ONLINE EXCLUSIVES ALL THE BUZZ
Ontario opens way to inclusionary zoning New inclusionary zoning legislation in Ontario could soon give municipalities the power to require that builders include affordable housing units in all new residential developments. If passed, the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016, will be the first of its kind in Canada and could take effect in early 2017, if not sooner.
A survey finds health and fitness supports are less accessible as employees clock longer hours.
FROM THE GREEN BIN
May high-rise sales mark near-record month Consumers snapped up 3,623 new high-rise homes in the GTA in May, making it the secondbest month on record, next to November, 2011, reported the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). As sales activity picked up in the condo segment, new low-rise inventory slipped to an unparalleled level of 1,985 homes.
New LEED Gold building at the University of Toronto Scarborough showcases science.
Retail leaders launch Three Sixty Collective
An expert recommends laying the groundwork for seasonal landscape installations ahead of time.
As consumer expectations and shopping tastes fuel shifts in the retail landscape, two of Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leading retail experts have put their skill sets together, ready to help industry manage the ebbs and flows and think beyond just bricks and mortar.
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TIME TO GET TO WORK Summer is the season when property appearance count. So to help yours make an impression in the bright months ahead, we've committed a portion of this issue to landscaping tips and strategies that will assist in turning heads. In this issue, we've enlisted a handful of landscaping professionals to share their advice. They include Landcare's Kari Tolppanen (“The Four Seasons of Landscaping”), Urban Garden's Allan Kling (“Q&A: Landscaping for Small Spaces”), and Kent Ford Design Group Inc.'s own Kent Ford who offers his insights on outdoor finishing touches. We hope that with their help you can find something in our special landscaping supplement to breathe new life into your outdoor spaces. This is also the season to catch up on indoor maintenance. Read our “Tips for Lighting Maintenance”, which we hope will help you save money and keep your property staff from burning out. Also read with interest WSP Group's “Setting a Standard for Human Wellness”, and Barb Carss's “Conservation Obligations Weigh on LDCs” for two refreshing looks at sustainable property development. Now that we've warmed up from winter and dusted off from spring, it's time to take advantage of the summer. We hope we can do our part in the pages ahead, and are always open to feedback and article suggestions for future issues. If you have an idea, or something to share, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com. MATTHEW BRADFORD firstname.lastname@example.org
MARK BESSOUDO BARB CARSS ALLAN KLING REGAN SMITH KARI TOLPPANEN
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HEALTH AND WELLNESS
SETTING A STANDARD FOR HUMAN WELLNESS Interest growing in healthier, happier workspaces BY REGAN SMITH & MARK BESSOUDO
t could be argued that the “success” of a building depends on how well it contributes to the health and comfort of the people in it. For too long, however, the human element of building design and operation has been under-appreciated. And while factors like energy and water conservation are surely critical to a property's environmental performance,
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we must ultimately take a building's impact on its occupants into greater account. This is especially important when one considers the mounting evidence that suggests many of society’s chronic health issues (e.g. lack of physical activity, stress, poor diet, etc.) can be directly or indirectly influenced by the design of our built environment. It's no surprise, then, that
growing attention is being paid to health and wellness within the architectural, design, construction, and sustainable building industry. The building industry hasn’t completely ignored the human element. Building codes have always dictated minimum standards related to ventilation rates, air quality, thermal comfort, and accessibility. Health
HEALTH AND WELLNESS Left: 81 Bay Street – the first of the two towers comprising Bay Park Centre – will feature 49 floors and 1.5 million square feet of state-of-theart offices and collaborative spaces, with expansive views of Lake Ontario and Toronto’s skyline. Right: Bay Park Centre’s numerous amenities are designed to accommodate the active, healthy lifestyles of its tenants. A high-end fitness facility, secure bicycle storage, tenant showers, and changing facilities cater to the active lifestyle.
went even further by requiring projects to consider such human health and wellness factors as visual pollution, urban agriculture, access to nature, beauty, and biophilic design (“Biophilia” being the instinctive human affinity for the natural world). However, no building rating system has focused exclusively on human health and wellness. That is, until the International WELL Building Institute launched the WELL Building Standard® (WELL) in late 2014 with the intent to “improve human health and well-being through the built environment”. The WELL rating system is structured similarly to LEED and based seven concept areas:
and wellness considerations have also been integral parts of green building rating systems — either implicitly or explicitly — for many years. The LEED rating system, for example, has included many optional strategies related to human health and wellness, such as thermal comfort, indoor air quality, and daylighting, among others. As well, the Living Building Challenge
AIR It’s estimated that people spend about 90 per cent of their time inside. The air quality of the indoor environment, therefore, has a profound impact on human health. To account for this, WELL includes 29 features to promote cleaner indoor air, including cleaning protocols, antimicrobial surfaces, air infiltration management, humidity control, and avoiding toxic materials in paints, carpets, finishes, and furniture. WATER While water has been a core component in many green building rating systems, those systems often focus on water use reductions and improving the
management of stormwater quantity and quality. WELL, however, is the first to focus on the quality of drinking water in the building and requires that projects test the quality of the source of their building’s water, and then apply specific strategies, like filtration, to meet specific end use thresholds. Projects are also rewarded for providing people with easy access to highquality drinking water. NOURISHMENT Poor food choices and sedentary lifestyles have contributed to a global obesity epidemic. This trend could be reversed with better guidelines and design strategies that improve access to more nutritious food. With WELL, building cafeterias and food outlets are encouraged to offer food with fewer processed ingredients and better nutritional content. Food labels identifying potential allergens and nutritional content also enable people to make more informed choices. Furthermore, providing aesthetically appealing and pleasant eating spaces and break area furnishings can encourage people to step away from their desks, enjoy interaction with co-workers, and be more mindful when eating. LIGHT Research shows light has a profound influence on the human internal body clock, also known as the circadian rhythm. www.REMInetwork.com
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
levels of certification. Pilot programs have also been made available for the retail, restaurant, education, commercial kitchen, and multi-unit residential sectors.
IT’S ESTIMATED THAT PEOPLE SPEND ABOUT 90 PER CENT OF THEIR TIME INSIDE. THE AIR QUALITY OF THE INDOOR ENVIRONMENT, THEREFORE, HAS A PROFOUND IMPACT ON HUMAN HEALTH. It regulates key physiological processes, including alertness, digestion, and sleep. In addition to promoting optimal illumination for visual acuity and defined tasks, WELL accounts of this by calling for “dynamic” or “human-centered” lighting, which mimics the natural progression of daylight and helps improve concentration, bolster performance, and elevate one's mood. FITNESS The form of the built environment can influence physical activity. To that end, WELL identifies guidelines and design strategies to get people moving including easily accessible and inviting stairwells, fitness programs, active workstation design and standing desks. Secure bike storage and post-commute and workout facilities are other options that make it seamless for people to integrate active transportation into their routines. COMFORT & MIND Acoustics, ergonomics, smells, and thermal comfort are four factors that drive concerns
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people have about their workspaces. WELL addresses these concerns by rewarding projects which provide adjustable workstations, desks, and chairs that design spaces to help lower undesirable indoor sound levels for improved concentration, as well as those that use source separation guidelines to limit the spread of odours throughout the workplace. Biophilic design is also addressed in WELL. It calls for integration of nature and natural elements into the building form, furnishings, lighting and space layouts, water features, natural materials, access to exterior garden spaces, and landscaping all are examples of biophilic design strategies. Each of these areas contains multiple strategies that can lead to Silver, Gold, or Platinum level certification for new and existing buildings or interior space, as well as a “compliance” pathway (rather than full certification) for core and shell building projects. WELL contains a series of mandatory requirements (Preconditions) and additional optional strategies (Optimizations) which can lead to higher
A HUMAN FOCUS Since it's introduction, WELL has experienced a brisk uptake. As of mid-March 2016, 107 projects have been registered with WELL globally, totaling more than 22.6 million square feet of building space. Of the registered projects, eight are in Canada and represent over 2.6 million square feet. This includes Toronto's highprofile Bay Park Centre, where WSP is acting as the project’s sustainability advisor. The project is pursuing LEED Core & Shell Platinum and WELL Core & Shell Compliance. The first phase of this multiphase development from Ivanhoe Cambridge and Hines will consist of 49 stories and 1.5 million square feet of office and retail. WELL is even growing beyond buildings. The world’s first WELL certified city district is now being planned as part of a 40-acre urban mixed-use development in Tampa, Florida. Various other initiatives are helping to advance health and wellness even further. For example, the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), the global standard for assessing the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance of real estate portfolios and infrastructure assets, recently launched a new Health & Well-being Module to be included in the 2016 GRESB Real Estate Assessment. The new module assesses
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Left: Among Bay Park Centre’s most distinctive features will be its elevated park: an acre-plus green space that spans the rail corridor and links both towers. Right: Bay Park Centre is designed to meet LEED Platinum and Delos WELL building standards, from material selection to superior indoor air quality and abundant natural light. On the cover: Bay Park’s biophilic design is centered on Bay Park – a one-acre elevated park that is sure to become a cherished amenity for Bay Park Centre’s tenants, an impressive addition to Toronto’s urban fabric, and a breath of fresh air for downtown. Photos courtesy of DBOX
a.p.i. Alarm’s and benchmarks the actions that property companies and funds have implemented to promote the health and well-being of their employees, tenants and customers. The addition of this module to GRESB sends a strong signal that health and well-being will play an increasingly critical role in assessing the value of real estate portfolios and other assets around the world. In addition, the International Living Future Institute, the organization responsible for creating the Living Building Challenge, recently announced the creation of the Biophilic Design Initiative as a way to take biophilic design from theory to reality, with the broad goal of helping the practice become more widely adopted by building owners and cities. While still in the initial stages of awareness building, the new focused approach to human health and wellness in the built environment is gaining momentum in the Canadian real estate market and around the world. It offers authentic, scientifically proven and accessible strategies for making buildings — and people — healthier. ■
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CONSERVATION OBLIGATIONS WEIGH ON LDCs Current supply glut adds paradoxical dimension to energy saving targets BY BARBARA CARSS
GTA & BEYOND
ew efforts to reduce electricity consumption in Ontario come with another, more subtle power shift. Eighteen months into the 2015-2020 Conservation First Framework, program delivery agents are keenly aware of who carries the responsibility for meeting an ambitious target for 7 terawatt-hours (7 billion kilowatt-hours) of energy savings, even though building owners and managers might still be oblivious to their suitors.
"Know that the LDCs (local distribution companies) need to meet these targets and they are going to do what they can to help you find savings," Rob Edwards, a Business Manager with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) told attendees at a recent seminar on energy management opportunities, jointly sponsored with the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Greater Toronto. Most of the opportunities aren't new,
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but many are recently revised, struggling to gain more customers' attention or under new management. With the IESO providing high-level oversight, Ontario's 70+ LDCs have each been allocated a share of the total savings target and a budget for achieving it. They're now rolling out incentives — both those designed for province-wide application and some specially scoped for local conditions and customers — with the goal of procuring savings and claiming them toward their mandated tallies. Meanwhile, the IESO's demand response program provides a way for real estate operators to derive revenue from curbing their electricity consumption, although they would have to negotiate a contract with one of three private sector aggregators to do so. These companies were successful bidders in Ontario's first demand response auction late last year and are collectively committed to providing up to 226 megawatts (MW) of electricity load-shedding capacity when called upon in the period between May 1 and October 31, 2016 or up 239 MW in the period between November 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017. The auction replaces the previous fixedrate contract-based approach to demand response (DR), in which few property owners/managers had the requisite 5-MW load to be direct participants and there was little commercial real estate involvement in aggregators' programs. "We're interested in getting you to think of any flexibility [to reduce load] you might have as the same thing as generation," advised Jason Grbavac, a Market Relations Consultant with the IESO. "We felt there was a better trigger for DR than what was included in the [expiring] contracts." This is all occurring in the context of escalating electricity rates and a supply glut in which demand frequently falls below the base load that nuclear,
hydroelectric and renewable generators send to the province's transmission grid — reinforcing customers' financial reasons for conserving, but perhaps downplaying the sense of urgency LDCs are tasked with communicating. "For the last year, we're in surplus condition over 60% of the time," the IESO's Hanna Smith acknowledged. PROGRAM REBOOT Moving ahead with the next generation of conservation and demand management (CDM) programs, Jen Grado, Toronto Hydro's CDM Business Lead, outlined some of the offerings. Similar to her presentation at the annual SpringFest conference and tradeshow earlier this year, she shared a frank assessment of problematic aspects of past initiatives. This time, program designers are attempting to ease some administrative obstacles and exploit operational savings that have been largely neglected due to the predominant emphasis on lighting and equipment retrofits. A broader range of facilities has also been earmarked for
existing building commissioning and retrocommissioning incentives, which previously applied only to chilled water systems. Among streamlining initiatives, a new fast-track process is promised for projects valued at less than $3,000. "You can get an approval in hours to a day," Grado said. For purchasing, the LDC is negotiating with manufacturers and/or distributors to directly apply so-called upstream discounts on designated products, which would simply be passed through to consumers, eliminating application requirements. It will also recognize a single application for purchases of energy-efficient equipment/ products for multiple sites. "That's going to be a major change for universities and potentially commercial portfolios," she added. Turning to operations, funding for energy managers' salaries — a program that had steadily been gaining popularity throughout the previous 2011-14 incentive period — will continue. The LDC is also preparing to roll out new programs that have achieved successful results in pilot projects variously tested in big-box
retail, multi-residential and commercial/ institutional buildings. "This is high, high, high on Toronto Hydro's agenda," Grado asserted. In contrast to capital-intensive physical alterations, system optimization gleans lowcost savings. Common approaches include automation and controls to ensure energyusing systems and equipment are running only as needed, and commissioning or retrocommissioning to keep systems running at their designed optimal level of performance. Drilling down further still, no-cost energy savings have posed a dilemma for targetchasers looking to quantify consumption reductions. "There has been no mechanism for us to be able to incent this and no mechanism for us to claim the savings," Grado noted. Toronto Hydro's imminent OpSaver program is an effort to fill that void, aimed at practices such as daytime cleaning or adjusting temperature set-points. The underpinning philosophy of continuous energy improvement (CEI) is likewise aligned with other models for best practices such as BOMA BEST.
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"Changing the old equipment isn't good enough. You have to maintain the savings to maximize the return on investment," concurs Bala Gnanam, Director
of Sustainable Building Operations and Strategic Partnerships with BOMA Toronto. "The behavioural steps — that's what's really going to deliver savings that are lasting."
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That said, retrofits are integral to creating the capacity to reduce consumption, and they figure prominently on Grado's list of the most obvious instruments for energy savings. These include: demand control ventilation; cooling plant upgrades; variable frequency drives for HVAC equipment; and seemingly ever-advancing lighting technology. "Lighting is still a huge, huge opportunity," she observed. "There are still tons of T12s out there that are converting to LED tubes." Gnanam also sees an important role for contractors and consultants. "When you go to RFP, it should be part of the contract that winning vendors explore all available incentives as part of the service. We need to maximize the reach of these incentive programs," he urges. DECENTRALIZED DESIGN & DELIVERY Few electricity customers yet have handson experience with the Conservation First Framework since LDCs have spent much of the past 18 months fulfilling planning and administrative requirements prior to launching CDM programs. Ideally, customers want a broader scope of effective incentives with a non-disruptive transition to the new LDC-centric delivery structure. Although those dealing with the larger LDCs in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area can typically expect fairly sophisticated service, decentralization always carries the risk of uneven distribution of resources and expertise. Owners/managers with properties in more than one jurisdiction remain wary of redundant application requirements, while seminar attendees also raised some concerns about lack of consistency when 73 different entities are interpreting the rules and determining eligibility. Nor is there a formal appeal mechanism. "There are situations where we are not agreeing and there is no Ontario Energy Board to go to," said Scott Rouse, Managing Partner of the energy management consulting firm, Energy@Work. "The one thing that's missing [in program oversight] is the customer's voice." However, all key sectors, including commercial customers, are represented on the IESO's 18-member Stakeholder Advisory Committee. "That's a really, really important group that really holds the IESO to task," Hanna Smith reported. ■ ________________________________________
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TIPS FOR LIGHTING MAINTENANCE Expert advice for staying bright BY MATT BRADFORD
here is a lot one can do to enhance the quality and lifespan of their lighting. Here are a few tips:
CHECK FOR COMPATIBILITY Mis-matched equipment can take its toll on lighting. According to Jason Prevost, VP of Marketing at STANDARD Products, “In any application, it is important to ensure that the right products are being used in the right applications. For example, the life of a fluorescent lamp, when combined with an instant-start ballast, can be greatly reduced by frequent switching. However, when you pair the same fluorescent lamp with a programmed-start ballast, which can handle frequent switching, the life will not be affected.” Dimmer compatibility is also a consideration, so it is always best to check with the manufacturer’s recommended dimmer compatibility list before installing a dimmer system.
GTA & BEYOND
WATCH THE TEMPERATURE When using LED lamps or fixtures, it is important to ensure proper operating temperatures are being respected. For example, avoid putting LED light sources near heating ducts as this could affect performance. CONTROL THE SITUATION Installing lighting controls is an easy way to make one's equipment last. “Controls will ensure that the lights are not in use when there is no one in the room or area. This can increase energy savings by 30 per cent and, because the lights will be off when not needed, it will extend the life of the product,” explains Prevost.
tabs of the number of hours a lamp will last, understanding that the stated life expectancy refers to the number of hours where 50 per cent of the lamps will fail. For example, offers Chris Cooper, National Operations Manager at Osram Sylvania, “Say you had a T8 lamp and its life expectancy was 20,000 hours. That means at 20,000 hours, 50 per cent of those lamps will fail. Therefore, it makes more sense to go in at 17,000 hours of usage and do a group relamp to cut that failure curve off. That way, you're not doing as much maintenance or disturbing tenants by relamping once every three years rather than changing lamps every couple of weeks towards the end.”
SCHEDULE RELAMPS SOONER When making a relamping schedule, consider the longevity of all your lamps to avoid costly work and repeated tenant disturbances. This means keeping
KEEP REFLECTORS CLEAN Some lights are omnidirectional, meaning they rely on the reflector above them to reflect light back down to their intend source. If the reflector is dirty, however,
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INTO-ELECTRONICS INC. the quality of returning light can take a hit. “If that reflector isn't clean, then the percentage of light that comes back from the reflector is reduced, especially if it's an air handling fixture which tends to get very dirty inside. So when you're changing the lamps on your preventative maintenance schedule once every four or five years, wipe down the interior of that fixture,” instructs Cooper. The accumulation of dirt and dust can reduce light output by up to 30 per cent for all lights. Use water and a light detergent to clean them effectively. But remember, adds Cooper, “You need to always be careful. Don't go near the sockets you don't want to get electrocuted.” INSTALL LED EXIT SIGNS Replace existing exit signs with LED alternatives, which can last up to 100,000 hours and save significant energy and replacement costs. ■
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2016-06-08 4:11 PM
THE VALUE OF IMPRESSIONS Special Landscaping Supplement
In the competitive world of property management, looks matter. And while it's true one should never judge a book by its cover, how a building presents itself from the outside can speak volumes about the people, brands, and companies behind its management. Here's where effective landscaping can produce short- and long-term benefits. Whether you're planning a rooftop retreat or a storefront oasis, a breathtaking balcony or rejuvenating terrace, we've prepared some landscaping tips and strategies to help you make an impactful first impression.
THE FOUR SEASONS OF LANDSCAPING BY KARI TOLPPANEN
Landscaping isn't just a summer job. A property can (and should) look beautiful all year round, as its level of care reflects the occupant's brand, owner's reputation, and property manager's attention to detail. SPRING Spring is the season of new beginnings and winter
GTA & BEYOND
recovery. Laying the groundwork now is vital for ensuring a healthy and vibrant outdoor look. Here are some key considerations: â&#x20AC;˘ Ice-melting salt causes a lot of damage to both lawn and ornamental plants. If it damages the same areas year after year, consider replacing lawns and plants with
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hard surface materials (river stones, for example) and/or using salt-tolerant plants. • Cut back overhanging trees and any perennials left standing. • Cultivate planted areas in order to oxygenize the soil. • Edge planted areas and walkways/paths to cut weeds’ root system from spreading to undesired places. • Clean and change playground area sand and other cover materials as needed. • Fertilize lawn and other planted areas with nitrogen-rich fertilizer, which encourages growth. Organic lawn fertilizers also provide nutriments to plants for a longer time, but work slower. • Plant urns and planters with low-temperature tolerant flowers / plants as early as possible in order to make central condo areas inviting. • After the ground has become dry enough, heavily rake lawn areas to oxygenize the soil and help the lawn start growing earlier and faster. • Water the root areas of plants like young rhododendrons and other evergreens early in the spring to quicken the melting of the ground. Evergreens evaporate some water even when temperatures are low, and in spring they easily suffer (or even die) by not getting enough water from the frozen ground.
2016-06-28 2:21 PM
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SUMMER Summer is the optimal time for landscaping, and when your property will attract the most attention. Take advantage of the prime season with the following tips: • Weed planted areas regularly to prevent weeds from becoming stronger and occupying the whole area. Also, discourage weeds by edging planted
areas and walkways throughout the season and covering planted areas with mulch. • During dry seasons, it is important to water planted areas well so that water reaches the plants’ root system. Due to that dryness, also leave the lawn a bit higher than normal. • Plant summer urns and planters at the beginning of summer. • Use the summer weather to fix walkways
if the frost has made them uneven. If this happens regularly, it may indicate the walkway was not constructed well enough in the first place and therefore needs to be rebuilt. Remember, if somebody falls because of uneven walkways, the condo company may be charged. • Avoid using nitrogen-rich fertilizers at the end of summer in order to avoid winter damage. Instead, use potassiumand phosphorus-rich fertilizers at the end of summer to help plants to survive. • Trim hedges at least twice during the season. FALL Fall is the time to prepare for the weather ahead and implement landscaping features that will keep up appearances over the winter. As such, consider the following: • Remove fallen leaves from the lawn so that diseases do not damage it during winter. • Replace inefficient irrigation systems with better ones to save money when it comes to watering (this can also be done over the summer). • Decide where you want to plant bulbs in the fall since its easier in spring to see what is missing in condo landscaping. Consider planting bulbs in groups, as they look nicer. • Mulch planted areas should be mulched to insulate the root systems from cold weather. • Plant fall urns and planters. • Trim hedges to look nicer over the winter. WINTER Winter presents an opportunity to stand out over properties that don't invest in yearround landscaping. Over the cold months, consider the following: • In late fall or early winter, cover young rhododendrons and other evergreens with fabric to protect them from the sun in early spring when the ground is still frozen and plants cannot get enough water from it. • Spotlights make a big difference for winter landscaping. • If winter regularly kills certain plants, consider replacing them with plants that are more tolerant to your region's conditions.
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• Avoid piling up salty snow on the lawn and planted areas as salt easily kills plants. • Use environmentally friendly ice-melting products. Keeping up a building's appearance requires year-long landscaping. Fortunately, there are many benefits to doing so, and qualified landscape designers and maintenance companies who can do the heavy lifting. These professionals book up fast, so reach out early to ensure your property gets the care it deserves. ________________________________________
KARI TOLPPANEN IS A LANDSCAPE DESIGNER AT LANDCARE, A LANDSCAPE DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION, AND MAINTENANCE COMPANY IN TORONTO. FOR MORE, CALL (416) 410-0320, VISIT LANDCARE.CA, OR EMAIL LANDCARE@LANDCARE.CA.
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Q&A: LANDSCAPING FOR A SMALL SPACE Urban Garden's tips for making an impression with less
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Photos courtesy of Urban Garden
Property landscaping can challenge even the greenest of thumbs. However, with some research, practical thinking, and creativity, it's possible to breathe life into the smallest of spaces. To learn more, we reached out to Urban Garden President Allan Kling for his perspective. WHAT ARE THE TOP CONSIDERATIONS WHEN LANDSCAPING FOR SMALL SPACES? Weather and light exposure are other considerations that may make it infeasible to landscape in a small, elevated, or confined space. The higher you go, the harder it is to have a reliable garden. My rule of thumb is if you're more than a few storeys above grade, think of it as if you were planting a garden in northern Alberta where the climate can be tough on plants. Otherwise, building environments don't often allow for optimal light, so choose shade-tolerant material that can also withstand the wind. For residential properties, right off the top I advise owners to check their property's rules. Many condos don't want ugly aesthetics or safety risks associated with hanging items on balconies or terraces. Because of this, many won't allow owners to do things like hang plants off a rail, fix features to walls, block intakes on air conditioners, cover drains or window cleaning anchors, let water fall on adjacent suites, or risk objects blowing away. For common spaces, like rooftops or terraces, property managers need to identify their functional requirements. Do they
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which hopefully last for a number of years, and then in the spring and summer you can go with different sets. In the fall, you have the opportunity for cabbages, kales, mums, and grasses; followed by cut materials in the winter. The idea is to get something that's pleasing to the eye and changing over the course of the year.
Left: A 3rd-floor winter planting or cut twigs, magnolia, oregonia, and juniper. Right: Fall planting of mums, cabbage, and ivy in a high-visibility area.
need storage? Shade? A dining table? BBQ? Lounging chairs? Do a sketch of these spaces, place these items, and determine if you can combine amenities or use compactible or multi-purpose furnishings to maximize the space. WHAT OPPORTUNITIES EXIST WHEN LANDSCAPING FOR SMALL SPACES? The most exciting opportunity is what these gardens provide to people when they're looking out their glass door or window. The value these gardens provide
from an interior perspective is huge, which is why you want to position the most attractive features so they are visible when you're looking out. You also want to make sure you're lighting these things properly because Canadian days are short for eight months of the year and you want to get the maximum effect. Budget permitting, there's also the opportunity to introduce change to your gardens throughout the seasons and really bring more value to occupants and owners. You have your permanent plants,
WHAT MATERIALS OR AMENITIES WORK BEST IN SMALL SPACES? First of all, you want to look at permanent plant materials. Those are plants that — in theory — live for more than just a season (although no plant, no matter how permanent we think it is, is going to last as long up on a roof or balcony as it would in a protected, ground-level garden). The kind of permanent material you want to consider is nice evergreen material. They can be ones with needle-like leaves — like your yews or junipers — or broad-leaf material like a boxwood or euonymus. You want those because you don't want to look at an empty balcony when it starts to snow, and those materials are the ones that are going to give you some green in the middle of winter.
Always ahead of the season, with a commitment to getting it right and on time!
Commercial Grounds Care Services We understand your requirements. Property management can be stressful, which demands quick action from your service provider. Cameron Landscaping understands and specializes in meeting the Grounds Care requirements for Property Managers and Owners of industrial, commercial facilities. Ease of contact, timely response to calls and providing a consistent level of service, “These are hallmarks of our service”. Our Expert Range of Year Round Services Involve: • • • • • •
Commercial Landscape Maintenance Turf, Tree, and Shrub Care Irrigation Service, Management & Installation Field Cutting Weed and Vegetation Control Landscape Construction and Renovations
• Parking Lot Power Sweeping, Flushing and Litter Removal • Snow Plowing, On Site Snow Relocation, or Off Site Removal • Sidewalk Snow Clearing • Ice Control
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You also want to fill the spaces around those materials with more colourful selections. Think seasonal plants like tulips and ephemerals in the spring; and petunias, impatiens, and other colourful plants in the summer. Even in the winter, you can use materials like cut dogwood, which have lovely red stems, or birch bark poles and pine boughs. The latter options allow for visual interest throughout all the seasons — even when the plant highlights aren't alive. Lastly, there are many balcony-hardy plants that take little space. Look for narrow, columnar forms and compact specimens; and consider “stacking” containers to create attractive displays. If you’re allowed lattice, consider climbing vines. Also, use lighting and mirrors to further “expand” the space. WHAT GOES INTO MAINTAINING THESE SPACES? Maintenance is always a big concern since it can get time-consuming for owners and maintenance staff. The big thing is watering. In some cases, there is a hose or irrigation system you can use, but typically you're watering by hand and plants at elevated climates dry out faster than those in the ground, so you have to water them more frequently. And then, when you add in the wind and the fact these things are growing in containers with limited water holding capacity, you've got significant amounts of watering time. Ultimately, we do a lot of condominiums and rooftop gardens, and it's just not costeffective to be sending our staff up there with watering cans. If these properties are large enough, irrigation systems become mandatory, but they very quickly pay for themselves. Also, pests are always a concern — particularly now in most areas of Canada where there are bans on cosmetic pesticides. Again, you want to choose plants that are hardy and not going to require a lot of insecticides and herbicides, because the tools we have today to combat those are significantly limited. You can't just get that herbicide and blast weeds anymore. What you can do, though, is put a cover of mulch on your open soil to keep those weeds at bay. That'll keep the soil moist and the weeds down, which is also going to save you money. WHAT OTHER ADVICE DO YOU OFFER WHEN LANDSCAPING FOR SMALL SPACES? One piece of advice is to choose costeffective materials. We all love pretty
flowers, so we tend to put in tulips in the spring and petunias in the summer, but that costs money. What we are seeing more-and-more of are gardens that are planted with perennials which come back every year. These save money by not requiring replacements every season. Otherwise, I always encourage clients to put their money where the eyes are. When you've got little beds or containers in high-visibility areas — like the front
door area or driveway access — those are what occupants and passersby are going to see. As you get into less visible areas, that's when you can go with more permanent materials and less annual supplementation. ________________________________________
ALLAN KLING IS PRESIDENT OF URBAN GARDEN (URBANGARDEN.CA), AND CAN BE CONTACTED AT 416-465-1485 OR INFO@URBANGARDEN.CA.
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ADDED TOUCHES: LANDSCAPE LIGHTING AND AMENITIES BY MATTHEW BRADFORD
Effective landscaping goes beyond greenery. To reach a building's full outdoor potential, one must also understand the role “hardscaping” plays in enhancing the look and resiliency of a property's natural elements. PAVING Paved surfaces are often the last thing to be considered when it comes to landscaping. Left unchecked, however, hard surfaces can erode or crumble under the stress of constant pedestrian and vehicle traffic. “Paving is something that's definitely very important and it's often overlooked. You might have something that goes in at the beginning from the developer, but then when that building gets taken over, it's usually one of the top things owners start asking to be removed or upgraded,” says Kent Ford, Owner of Kent Ford Design Group Inc. For high-traffic surfaces, materials such as natural stone, pre-cast concrete pavers, and weather-durable porcelain are ideal for withstanding day-to-day outdoor stresses. These materials also come in various Left Top: Kent Ford rendering of 35 Church Street “Welcome Mat” (Kent Ford Design Group Inc.) Left Bottom: Kent Ford Design Group Inc. Right: Gelderman Landscape Services
colours, giving designers the flexibility to build them into landscaping plans. Lastly, before renewing your driveways and walkways, make sure to check up on local bylaws and seek permission from the city to work on portions that fall on city property. LIVING ACCEPTS Retaining walls and planters go a long way towards enhancing a commercial or residential property's curb appeal and brand reputation. What's more, outdoor amenities such as walkable gardens, gazebos, water fixtures and weatherdurable furnishings promote owner interaction and — in turn — create a greater sense of community. To that end, it pays to invest in outdoor amenities that can withstand your region's climate; which, in Canada, can mean dealing with extreme colds and exhausting heats. It's also beneficial to install plant containers and fixtures that won't chip, fade, or fall easily to vandalism over time. So while treated wood can be a cost-friendly and effective material for raised planters and retaining walls, it's worth considering amenities built with more durable materials, such as powder-coated steel, to ensure you aren't replacing them every season. LANDSCAPE LIGHTING Outdoor lighting serves the dual role of spotlighting exterior features and keeping owners and visitors safe. Bright and focused lighting can illuminate pedestrian walkways and contribute to safer parking environments while embedded paving lights can help reduce falls and illuminate common pathways. As for lighting options, there are plenty to choose. Yet whether one chooses LEDs, halogens, or halide fixtures, the end
objective should be to select something that can outshine the light generated by a building's surroundings. “The landscape lighting has to be really strong or else it's bleached out by ambient light,” says Ford. “You have a better chance making a point with new lighting that is clear, light, and strong; and — especially for a lot of Canadian cities — something that can burn through the snow come winter.” Lights can be easy prey for vandals and natural damage. As such, embedded pavement lights are one option that allows for ample pathway lighting with less risk of damage due to exposure. PROPERTY SIGNS An attractive, clear, and well-lit sign can have a small, yet impactful effect on a property's profile. They can also be used to direct pedestrian and delivery traffic in office buildings, cast a strong first impression for retail customers, or direct visitors in condos and apartments. In all cases, effective signs are those that include the name, address, and branding images that can be seen at all hours of the day. A WORTHY INVESTMENT When it comes to landscaping, there's plenty that can be done to turn heads beyond planting flowers and turf. Combined, effective hardscaping and landscaping can create a unified design which increases a property's value and turning heads in today's competitive real estate market. “At the end of the day, it's all about pride in ownership,” says Ford. “When people see the difference between an unimproved building from the outside and one that is improved with landscaping and other amenities, that's when they typically see the value in investing in their landscaping — and for the same reasons they spend so much on their interiors.” ________________________________________
KENT FORD IS PRINCIPAL AND FOUNDER OF KENT FORD DESIGN GROUP INC., A TORONTO-BASED LANDSCAPE DESIGN AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT FIRM SPECIALIZING IN THE RENOVATION OF CONDOMINIUM PROPERTIES. HE CAN BE REACHED AT KENT@KENTFORDDESIGN.COM OR BY PHONE 416-368-7175.
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