Search This Blog

Loading...

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ei 2016: A Year of Recognition

Ei Partners traveled from across the
nation for intimate, powerful meeting.
On Thursday, November 17 Elemental Impact Partners, Friends, SupportersStrategic Allies and Advisory Council Members traveled from across the nation to attend the Annual Ei Partner Meeting. It was a powerful day filled with education, updates, camaraderie along with great food and wine. Thank you HLB Gross Collins for hosting the meeting and reception.

Ei Chair Scott Seydel welcomed the Ei Family with a reminder the meeting follows the Chatham House Rule. After introductions, Ei Founder Holly Elmore gave the annual Ei Year in Review presentation. In her opening slide, Holly summarized the past and current years as follows:
2012: Year of Accomplishments | Completions - in late 2012 the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) were sold to the National Restaurant Association catapulting Ei into a major metamorphosis.The ZWA Blog article, The NRA Acquires ZWZ, announces the monumental acquisition.
2013: Year of Transitions | Introductions - until fall 2013 Ei flowed within the metamorphosis stage. As the year drew to a close, the three-platforms approach emerged. The IMPACT Blog, Ei Emerges Strong from Metamorphosis, introduced the three platforms: Product Stewardship, Recycling Refinement and Water Use | Toxicity. The IMPACT Blog article, Another Year, Another Annual Ei Partner Meeting, recaps the formation of the new Ei three-platform approach for pilots and initiatives.
2014: Year of Foundations | Evolutions - in 2014 the platforms were grounded with initiative launches and supporting taglines. The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2014: A Year of Evolution, provides a summary of the platform foundations. 
2015: Year of ACTION - in 2015 Ei lived up to its tagline: Sustainability in ACTION! The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2015: A Year of ACTION, summarizes the empowering year.
2016: Year of Recognition - in 2016 Ei's important work was recognized in published industry case studies and Ei-hosted national conference panels. In addition, the Ei Blogs' following significantly increased and Holly was recognized as a respected journalist.
In her Year in Review presentation, Holly gave a synopsis of Ei recognition including a powerful speaking circuit at universities and national conferences:

Colleges | Universities:
Holly speaking @ Ga Tech
photo courtesy of Scott Seydel
Ei-Hosted Panels @ Industry Conferences:
2016 U.S. Composting Council Conference
2016 National Zero Waste Business Conference (NZWBC)
Ei Team at USCC Conference
Industry Webinar:
U.S. Zero Waste Business Council:
  • Recycling: The Business Case co-presented by Ei Founder Holly Elmore & Container Recycling Institute President Susan Collins in December, 2016.
The ZWA Blog article, A Recycling or Contamination Crisis? an article series, was published to coincide with the Recycling: The Business Case webinar promotion. Important to the industry, the article garnered 800 views since its November 6 publication, a mere two plus weeks!

Intended article series topics include:
  • Waste Prevention – working within the value chain.
  • WE Consciousness | Culture – working together is key | top management buy-in is essential to creating a zero waste culture.
  • Hauler | Generator Responsibility - working together, hauler & customer craft recycling programs that generate clean streams and make solid business sense.
  • Clear Communication - educating employers and guests on proper placement for material and trash.
  • Local Infrastructure - working with grass roots recycling companies on flexible programs unique to the local end market.
Case studies validate accomplishments and serve as templates | encouragement for related organizations to follow suit. The week of the Annual Ei Partner Meeting, three Ei-related case studies were published: RayDay Embraces Path to Waste Reduction, Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success, and a Comparative Case Study: Plastic Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls.

Ei Partner NatureWorks published the RayDay Embraces Path to Waste Reduction and Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success case studies to showcase the 2015 Ei Zero Food Waste Journeys. Thanks to SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team - leadership, 2015 RayDay achieved zero food waste, including the caterer's food prep scraps. The ZWA Blog article, Simple, easy, proven steps culminate in zero food waste success, chronicles the RayDay accomplishment in alignment with the case study. 

The Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success case study highlights waste reduction at the 2015 Les Dames d'Escoffier International (LDEI) Atlanta Chapter’s prominent annual fundraiser Afternoon in the Country (AITC). Rainy, muddy event conditions showcased lessons learned necessary to build a solid, effective zero food waste template for annual events. The ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste Journeys: Successes, Challenges & Lessons Learned, supports the case study with event details.

Tonya Randell with Moore Recycling Associates attended the annual meeting to announce the Comparative Case Study: Plastic Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls release. Prepared by Ei on behalf of W.R.A.P. - Wrap Recycling Action Program, the case study chronicles the Charlotte plastic film recycling programs pioneered within the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) - Shopping Mall Pilot

CM GM Ray Soporowski w/
his Orwak baler
Concord Mills (CM) launched their plastic film recycling program in August 2012 and SouthPark Mall a month later. Louis Herrera with Ei Partner Novolex (then Hilex Poly) was instrumental to crafting the mall plastic film recycling template. Ei Partner Orwak worked closely with CM General Manager Ray Soporowski on the on-site plastic film baling process.

For the case study ROI (return on investment) analysis, 2015 calendar year program stats were used. Tonya brought several hard copies of the case study published three days earlier.

Ei's pioneering role in commercial plastic film recycling is chronicled on the the Plastic Film Recycling website page. The Ei FB album, Source-Separated Materials Recycling: building a city-wide network, is a pictorial recap of the work-in-progress. Note the Plastic Film Recycling Template expanded to the Source-Separated Material Recycling Template.

In addition to the case study, Tonya presented on the WRAP successes and programs under development. Initiated by members of the American Chemistry Council's Flexible Film Recycling Group in partnership with GreenBlue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition and The Association of Plastic Recyclers, W.R.A.P.'s purpose is to reinvigorate plastic film recycling. The goal is to double recycling to 2 billion tons by 2020.

Within her Year in Review presentation, Holly welcomed two new Ei Strategic Allies: Recycle Across America and Second Helpings - Atlanta (SHA). The IMPACT Blog article, Ei Welcomes New Strategic Allies, includes an introduction to the organizations.

After lunch SHA Executive Director Joe Labriola gave a passionate presentation on SHA's impressive impact; SHA connects Atlanta's excess food with the city's hungry population. Joe began his presentation with the long-standing Ei | SHA partnership, dating back to 2009. As he closed the session, Joe included a slide on SHA's impact:
  • 125 pick-ups | deliveries per week.
  • 146,000 pounds of food rescued in October 2016, twice the amount rescued in October 2015.
  • 1,109,000 pounds of food rescued in 2016, a 62% increase over 2015
  • 5.700,000 pounds of food rescued since SHA was established in 2004.
Joe Labriola speaking at meeting
In Joe's words:

It took us 15 months to rescue 100,000 pounds of food. We’re doing that now every 25 days.

The new Ei website launch was prominent within Holly's Year in Review.  With an entirely new format, the website home page is re-designed to include Holly's photos as the navigation base. Many new pages | sections are added to document Ei initiatives and work-in-progress. A prominent new section is Mission Accomplished, a collage of Ei endeavors considered complete via a sale, term expiration or simply mission accomplished:
In April 2016 the IMPACT Blog article, Ei: New Website, New Era!, announced the new website launch.

Within the Ei: Respected Media presentation section, Holly began with the escalating status of the Ei Blogs. Below are the quick overview blog stats:

The IMPACT Blog:
  • 95,000 pageviews
  • 120 published articles
  • Average 792 pageviews per article
  • Most popular article: Ei New Mission Statement (12/12) 2,845 views
The Zero Waste in ACTION Blog:
The ZWA Blog article, Ei Blogs: respected media & valuable industry resources, celebrates strong readership, acknowledges teamwork necessary to build the solid foundation, and details interesting reader analytics.

National trade associations are vehicles to educate the corporate community on the zero waste business value. In October two prominent industry trade associations - the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) - published front-cover zero waste articles in their October hard copy magazines.

For the ISM cover article, Full Circle, Supply management can play a key role in the circular economy, working with suppliers to eliminate waste and drive financial value, Holly served as an industry resource for the author. As a "thank you" the article ended with a prominent quote by Holly.

The NWPCA Pallet Central September | October issue cover article, Zero Waste Makes Good Business & Environmental Sense, was written by Holly on behalf of the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC). With three industry magazine-published articles, a new website page Ei-Published Articles was created.

For details on the national trade association articles, visit the ZWA Blog article, Zero waste moves from "best" to standard operating practices.

Holly's Fingertip Press moved from respected media to recognized journalist with the following invitation:
In early November the U.S. State Department invited Ei to join the invitation-only COP22 preview press conference call. Journalists from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times were among the respected, mainstream media on the call.
Since 2012 the USZWBC | Ei relationship evolved into a strong partnership, grounded in media, communication and education. The following is a brief synopsis of the evolution:
  • 2012 – Holly presented @ inaugural conference. 
  • 2013 – First Ei-hosted conference panel: Zero Waste is a Team Sport.
  • 2014 – Ei named conference media partner…. and more!
  • 2015 – Ei named USZWBC media partner.
  • 2016 – Ei wrote magazine cover article on behalf of USZWBC.
Stephanie Barger speaking at meeting
In the afternoon, USZWBC Founder & Former Executive Director Stephanie Barger gave an empowering update. Beginning with a focus on the USZWBC substantial certification and education program development, Stephanie followed with a focus on the strong Ei | USZWBC partnership. 

In her closing remarks, Stephanie discussed the USZWBC and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) joining forces along with its industry implications. Effective November 1, Stephanie is the USGBC National Zero Waste Director.

The ZWA Blog article, USGBC Empowers Zero Waste Industry: USGBC & USZWBC join forces, announces the monumental event.

Holly ended the Yr in Review presentation with an Ei: Global Reach section. In 2014 Holly was inducted into Lambda Alpha International (LAI), a global land economics honorary, and this year was appointed to the International Public Relations & Communications Committee. At the Fall 2016 Toronto Land Economics Weekend (LEW), Holly represented the Atlanta Chapter at the semi-annual LAI Executive Committee meetings.

Scott Seydel during his EMF update
The IMPACT Blog article, Toronto: crafting a livable city amidst staggering population shifts and growth, is a Toronto LEW overview with commentary on the powerful presentations and tours throughout the weekend. A LAI emphasis on livable cities flows with Ei focus areas.

Earlier in the fall, Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) CEO Andrew Morlet requested Ei support for the Biocycle Economy concept paper under development. The nutrient cycle within cities is integral to the Biocycle Economy. In addition, the paper addresses release of toxins into the environment, augmenting the Ei synergies.

In the afternoon, Scott gave an impromptu EMF update on their profound work within the Circular Economy and beyond. Scott serves on the EMF USA Board.

Boyd Leake speaking at meeting
City of Atlanta, Mayor's Office of Sustainability Senior Policy Adviser Boyd Leake opened the formal presentations for the meeting. In his overview, Boyd educated on the City's four initiative areas: 1> electric vehicles, 2> recycling, 3> urban agriculture and 4> municipal. Additionally, Boyd updated on the City's recent Rockefeller Foundation Grant and Stephanie Benfied's appointment to Chief Resilience Officer.

Following Boyd, Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer updated on the pending Georgia Dome decommissioning, Solar Arrays, the Energy-Saving Performance Contract and the potential new GWCC campus hotel. Tim's opening slide was a reminder of the GWCC | Ei longstanding partnership, beginning with the 2009 ZWZ Launch press conference. Due to the Georgia Dome's slated March 2017 decommissioning, the SFCI - Event Venue Pilot will shift to the GWCC.

Tim reported the following impressive savings from October 2015 to September 2016 under the Energy-Saving Performance Contract:
  •  $983,849 of energy costs saved.
  •  $173,167 Georgia Power rebates.
  •  5,583,710 kWh of electricity saved.
  •  16,312,384 gallons of water saved.
  •  536,666 pounds (268 tons) of construction waste recycled.
David Paull during his presentation
photo courtesy of Scott Seydel
The morning session ended with a impressive presentation by Compost Wheels (CW) Founder & Chief Composting Officer David Paull. It was empowering to understand David's passion for rebuilding our soils, educating the youth, and creating a solid community-based food waste collection for compost system. Via a recent partnership with King of Crops farm, CW expanded their residential food waste collection business model to include the commercial sector.

Prior to lunch, Holly gifted attendees with sweet 'n savory bags filled with delectable homemade treats. An added bonus is a photo print from Holly's nature photography portfolio.

One of the Annual Ei Partner Meeting highlights is the excellent lunch filled with plenty of vegetarian options. As in the past, Chef Donald Stone "wowed" the partners with the amazing feast!

After lunch Donald switched chef jackets to his role as Georgia State University (GSU) PantherDining Executive Chef for a presentation on their exceptional sustainability commitment. Beginning with the downtown campus stats, Donald established GSU as a major contributor to Atlanta's economic vitality: 
Chef Donald Stone speaking
  • 34,000 undergraduate and graduate students
  • 2,000 staff and faculty
  • 8 schools and colleges offering
  • 61 buildings, spanning 71.79 acres
  • 3 dining halls, serving over 10,000 meals a day
PantherDining incorporates food waste prevention best practices within their daily operations: trayless dining with reusable serviceware, food served to students (vs. self-serve), condiment pump stations, individual napkin dispensers, and small batch production. To monitor and improve their food waste, PantherDining uses the LeanPath food waste smart meter system.

Biannually PantherDining hosts Plate Waste Parties to raise student awareness of post-consumer waste. Excess food meeting the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act is collected by student-driven Panther Food Recovery Network for donation to local agencies. Kitchen scraps and post-consumer food waste are collected for commercial compost.

Healthy dining is a top PantherDining priority with a dietitian on staff at each dining hall. In addition to Meatless Mondays, 20% of food offerings are vegan and 68% are vegetarian. When practical, PantherDining purchases from local businesses.

Wasabi arugula 
IMPRESSIVE: the PantherDining Freight Farm is an enclosed vertical farm system free of pesticides| herbicides with a 365-day growing system. The equivalent of an one-acre farm, the 256 growing towers produced 450 heads of lettuce in the first eight-week harvest. In October, Donald hosted Boyd & Holly on a PantherDining tour; the Freight Farm was the tour star!  At the meeting Donald shared samples of the Freight Farms greens - the wasabi arugula is beyond awesome!

It was empowering to learn the history of Ted's Montana Grill's (TMG) role pioneering sustainable best practices in the restaurant industry. The journey began with the Green Restaurant Revolution 2008 launch by Co-Founders Ted Turner and George McKerrow. TMG Sustainability & Purchasing Manager Paula Owens gave an excellent overview of TMG sustainability practices ranging from source reduction to small batch production to energy and water conservation.

Paula Owens during her presentation
Paula works closely with their supply chain to minimize transport package, ensure integrity within production processes, and purchase locally where feasible. In addition to their internal water conservation, TMG supports the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to offset a portion of their annual water usage. By funding water restoration certificates to restore their unavoidable water footprint, TMG helped restore over 12 million gallons of water in the Colorado River Basin over the past five years.

In her closing remarks, Paula mentioned TMG is evaluating an Ei Airborne Kitchen Grease (AKG) Initiative pilot in two of their metro Atlanta restaurants.

Since Ei Sustainer Jordan Salpietra of Grease Lock Filters (GLF) was unable to attend the meeting, Holly stepped into her "Jordan persona" for the Ei AKG Initiative update. A powerful year, GLF is in the midst of national installations of their proactive AKG system at Walmart | Sam's Club, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy's, McDonald's and more.

Though they are high profile and important for the initiative, national chains are only 10% of the U.S. restaurant industry; regional chains are 20% and single-operators comprise 70% of the restaurant industry. To service the single-operators and small chains, GLF developed an e-commerce site for filter on-line ordering and shipping. In first quarter 2017, the site is slated for roll-out within the Ei AKG City-Wide Template, which was announced at the 2015 Ei Annual Partner Meeting.  

Jim Harrell speaking at meeting
Another Water Use | Toxicity program, the Ei Cooling Tower Blowdown Initiative, gained significant momentum in the second half of the year. Renaissance Technology President Jim Harrell presented on the initiative premise | history along with two prominent case studies at Polk State College and the Tampa Data Center.

In the fall, the Ei Team met with the Mercedes Benz Stadium engineering department and TRANE on behalf of the GWCC. TRANE corporate is vetting the underlying WCTI technology for future guaranteed energy performance contracts. On November 14 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the SFCI - Airport Pilot and the busiest airport in the world!, issued a cooling tower RFP. The Ei Cooling Tower Blowdown Initiative was one of several organizations included in the RFP.

Holly donned a Michigan State hat as she stepped into her Ei Partner Rick Lombardo of NaturTec persona. Rick co-presented the 2016 NZWBC Macro Cost of Micro Contamination panel with Lia Colabella of Five Gyres Institute and was disappointed to miss the annual meeting.

Rick Lombardo & Lia Colabella
@ NZWBC
The NZWBC Macro Cost of Micro Contamination panel was a huge success! A prominent attendee confided in Holly "this was the BEST conference panel - I learned so much and I appreciate gaining visibility to such important issues!"

Micro level contamination yields tremendous hidden costs to communities, the environment and food chain systems. Though often not seen by the human eye, fragmented microplastic pieces are poison to our soils | water microbial communities as well as to fish, mammals, birds and most all life forms. 

Rick's presentation focused on the micro contamination in compost when petroleum-based plastics, versus certified-compostable plastics, are used for foodservice packaging and food waste bags. The fragmentation process results in tiny plastic pieces that may slip through the screening process into finished compost. Within the presentation, Rick explains the difference between bio-degradation and decomposition: TIME! 

For decomposition, complete assimilation within 180 days must occur in an industrial compost environment. There is no time constraint for complete assimilation within the bio-degradation definition. "Green washed" petroleum-based products with misleading to false claims are abundant. Thus, it is important for foodserivce operators to ensure products are BPI-certified compostable.

The ZWA Blog article, The Macro Cost of Micro Contamination, is an in-depth recap of the powerful NZWBC panel.

Greg Chafee speaking at meeting
Ei General Counsel Greg Chafee with Thompson Hine closed the formal presentations with interesting anecdotes from his renewable energy clients. What a great slide of Greg's work escapades:
A Life of Adventure….!
  • Moose Hunting at Minus 20 Degrees Fahrenheit
  • Passing the Peace Pipe in a Teepee
  • Driving a Rail Locomotive Across a Collapsing Bridge
  • Rappelling Down a Wind Turbine
In addition, Greg wove a closing synopsis of the empowering presentations throughout the day. Scott and Holly gave meeting closing comments.

The wine reception following the formal meeting was an excellent time for Partners to chat in a relaxed atmosphere and continue discussions started during the meeting. Partners were treated to Holly's homemade gravlax with mustard dill sauce and her goat cheese cheesecake with grape compote. Chef Donald completed the reception with his excellent cheese & light hors d'oeuvres platters.

Group dinner @ Portofino
photo courtesy of Scott Seydel
Following tradition, the meeting festivities ended with a lovely dinner at Portofino. Superb food and wine brought forth the magic intertwined within the powerful presentations and dialogue throughout the day.

A big THANK YOU to University of Georgia seniors Samantha Eberhard & Mason Towe for helping out with the meeting administration. 

The Ei FB album, 2016 Ei Annual Meeting, is a pictorial recap of the monumental day. PPT presentations are soon available for download on the Annual Ei Partner Meetings page.

With the Year of Recognition coming to a close, the Ei Team is excited to move into expanded dimensions of impact! Stay tuned ...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Toronto: crafting a livable city amidst staggering population shifts and growth

The Lambda Alpha International Simcoe Chapter hosted the Fall 2016 Toronto Land Economics Weekend (LEW) attracting a global contingency eager to learn about Toronto's history, challenges and accomplishments. With limited time, the LEW tours and presentations focused on downtown Toronto. Redevelopment plans-in-process are designed to craft a livable city for the increasing population.

Lambda Alpha International (LAI) is an honorary society for the advancement of land economics. LAI provides a forum for the study and advancement of land economics where the "winnowing and sifting" of ideas takes place in an atmosphere of mutual respect. 

LAI operates through a network of chapters. A LAI Chapter provides a variety of programs and forums for its members to share information critical to understanding important land-use issues. The IMPACT Blog article, Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter: growing membership, influence and impact, introduces LAI along with its designated purposes.

Twice per year chapters sponsor "Weekend Experiences" giving members an opportunity to meet and learn about land economic issues in cities throughout the world. Open to LAI members and their guests, the LEWs address wider international, national and regional issues and include project tours within the host city.

With prime downtown location, the Le Germain Hotel Toronto on Mercer Street was a perfect host hotel for the Toronto LEW. The boutique hotel staff was committed to creating a lovely guest experience. Sustainability was core to the hotel's operations with in-room recycling bins, shower amenities in pump bottles, and educational material on minimizing the guest footprint during their stay.

Ann King & Tim Youmans
@ reception
On Thursday, September 22 LAI Board & Executive Meetings were held throughout the day. Elemental Impact (Ei) Founder Holly Elmore represented the LAI Atlanta Chapter as well as her new position on the International Public Relations & Communications Committee.

An evening President's Reception hosted at the TD Bank Tower in McCarthy Tetrault's 53rd Floor offices officially opened the Toronto LEW program. Good friends from across the globe were happy to reunite over a delicious buffet and open bar. For first-time LEW attendees, the reception was an excellent welcome to the festivities.

The Toronto LEW format included educational LEW Talks in the morning followed by late morning and afternoon tours. Co-LEW Chair Russell Mathew moderated the Friday morning LEW Talks along with his Results of our experiment opening presentation. Coupled with Urban Strategies Partner Joe Berridge's Toronto: an accidental metropolis subsequent presentation, Russell set the stage for the underlying LEW theme: crafting a livable city amidst staggering population shifts and growth.

Between the two presentations, the following Toronto facts emerged:
Toronto Skyline 
  • Sixth-most populous metropolitan area in North America (NA) and growing faster than any other NA city.
  • More than 100,000 annual population growth since mid-1980s.
  • Long history of immigrants and refugees with shifting demographics since 1980's; destination for 47.5% of Canada's immigrants.
  • Economy diversifying yet still very industrial.
  • Canada's centre of banking and business activity.
  • English Canada's media and arts capital.
  • 2016 PWC Cities of Opportunities report ranks Toronto in top tier along with London, Paris and Singapore.
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport is the fastest growing large airport in the world.
  • Best library system in the world.
  • One of the best public school systems in the world.
Population Growth & Shifts
With an average of 100,000 new residents annually since the 1980's, Toronto is growing at a staggering rate. The current Toronto 2.5 million population is on target to reach an estimated 3.1 million by 2031; the metro area current 8.6 population is estimated to reach 15 million by 2031.

In addition to the growth, Toronto's population profile is shifting. The 2011 CMA Immigration stats reveal a shift in the immigration population from mainly European and the Americas to Asian origin. 

Toronto's Chinatown
Though only 24.8% of the total immigrant population, Asian country origin is 47% of the recent immigrants. An interesting validation is comparison of the phone book listings for Smith | Brown and Lee | Wong from 1940 to 2010. Almost non-existent in the 1940 phone book, Lee | Wong listings skyrocketed in the 1970's and by 2010 surpassed Smith | Brown as the predominant listed last names.

Along with the growing, shifting population, Toronto housing preferences are changing, strongly driven by in town millennial residents. According to NBLC Partner Mark Conway's What’s driving the Toronto Condominium Market? LEW Talk, millennials are choosing to live downtown and embrace the urban lifestyle. 

Per Mark, millennials say NO to: traffic, sterile, commute, car-oriented and isolated. ... and YES to: transit, walkable, eclectic, inclusive and low maintenance.

Thus, millennials are one of the strong drivers for the in town condominium market. An additional influence is the high cost of new detached housing. Since 2004, Toronto condominium average prices rose from under Can$300,000 to around Can$500,000. During the same time frame, new detached homes average prices rose from under Can$600,000 to around Can$2,000,000.

Local coffee shop in the
eclectic Kensington Market
The office market is following the young talent settling into downtown urban condominiums. Global corporations are consolidating their offices into the downtown market. Coca-Cola, Cisco, Corus, Deloitte, Google and Telus recently consolidated their Toronto corporate offices within the downtown business district.

Recent and ongoing transit investments influence the condominium and office building location.

Housing for a Growing Population
Although downtown Toronto has a solid condominium market, there is a shortage of affordable apartments for working class residents and recent immigrants. Toronto is facing the affordable rental market dilemma with a direct approach to provide housing for lower income residents.

Thorncliffe Park
concrete slab tower
After lunch on the first LEW tour day the group boarded buses for a visit to Thorncliffe Park within the City of Toronto limits. Built in the 1960's on a former racetrack, Thorncliffe is a cluster of high rise cement slab apartment buildings. Originally planned for 12,500 residents, Thorncliffe Park has a current population of 30,000, predominately recent Muslim immigrants from South Asia. The neighborhood is well served by 24-hour public transportation.

Privately owned (only one Thorncliffe building is publicly owned), the rental buildings fell into disrepair over the years due to a 1972 change in income taxes and the 1975 provincial rent control. For 40 years, building owners neglected maintenance and private rental construction nosedived.

With the 1980's federal high-immigration policy and gentrification of inner city dwellings, tower cluster apartments were affordable housing for recent immigrants. Tower renewal is underway in Thorncliffe and other cluster communities to repair and upgrade buildings. In addition, tower renewal addresses the shifting resident demographics to make better use of common area space as well as access to commercial businesses and schools.

Grame Stewart, Ahmed Hussein
& Doug Sanders
The Thorncliffe Park bus tour was augmented by three excellent experts on the neighborhood: Graeme Stewart of ERA Architects, Ahmed Hussein of the Thorncliffe Park Neighbourhood Office, and Doug Saunders (author of Arrival City: The Final Migration and Our Next World

On the second full tour day, the LEW group was treated to peameal bacon sandwiches & an array of doughnuts - both local Toronto favorites - for lunch at Regent Park. Following lunch,Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) Senior Development Manager Kelly Skeith introduced the group to Regent Park, a TCHC initiative via a formal presentation followed by a walking tour.

Owned by the City of Toronto, TCHC is responsible for 58,600 units in 2,200 buildings where 50% of the buildings are designated for 50+ years old residents. The TCHC budget is Can$2.6 billion to repair existing buildings. 

The Regent Park master plan is grounded in diversity. Buildings: townhouses, mid-rise & high-rise; Housing: subsidized intertwined with market rate units; Residents: immigrants, refugees, and Canadian citizens. Common grounds are filled with a large playground, a community garden, open space and a City of Toronto public indoor pool.

Regent Park residences
view from across common area
A long-term plan, Regent Park plans include increasing the prior to revitalization population of 7,500 to 12,500 residents over a 15 - 20 year time frame. The plan consists of building renovation as well as new construction. Regent Park is an excellent example of collaboration among government, development and community partners.

In addition to housing, Regent Park focuses on community development through a social development plan, community-based art, youth engagement and heritage commemoration. The neighborhood walking tours were led by community volunteers who gave the resident perspective to the Regent Park revitalization.

Transportation
In her LEW Talk Growth in livable future presentation, City of Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat addressed Toronto's growing pains and the challenges facing downtown. In TOcore - Planning Toronto's Downtown six challenges are detailed: 1> balanced growth & infrastructure, 2> demographically inclusive communities, 3> local mobility & regional connectivity, 4> resilient water and energy systems, 5> healthy office, institutional & retail sectors, and 6> abundant quality parks & public spaces.

Union Station under
renovation 
Downtown transportation intertwines within at least 50% of the challenges, either directly or indirectly. Toronto's plans to take public transportation underground ties into challenge #1 (building balanced infrastructure), #3 (mobility & connectivity) and #5 (connecting employees | customers with offices & retail).

Bloor-Yorkville BIA Executive Director Briar de Lange's Bloor Street Transformation Project LEW Talk gave an excellent overview of the aggressive, successful project. Working in tandem with the municipality during the replacement of antiquated underground water mains, Bloor Street was transformed into a well planned, pedestrian friendly area complete with sidewalk floral decor, numerous trees, and ample benches.  ... and Bloor Street's Mink Mile status was reclaimed!

Jennifer ended her presentation with slides on Rail Deck Park, a planned 21-acre park in the heart of Downtown by decking over the rail corridor. Thus, challenge #6 (parks & public spaces) is also addressed via a transportation-related project.

Education
Beyond one of the best public school systems in the world, Toronto boasts three major universities: York University, University of Toronto and Ryerson University (RU). On the second tour day, former RU Executive Lead Elisabeth Stroback and RU Director, Capital Projects & Real Estate Nic Del Salaberry co-presented The university is expanding LEW Talk.

Since the 1990's RU nearly doubled their 21,000 student population to the current 40,000 student status. Along with the growth, RU stepped up its public profile and physical presence. With a commitment to a single, downtown campus, RU released a new 2016 Master Plan, including the following statement:
Ryerson University thrives on change. As Ryerson is interwoven with established and emerging communities, continually evolving retail hubs, modern civic spaces and historic streets, it is both a partner and a leader in realizing positive change in downtown Toronto. This institution is porous, overlapped and inseparable from the evolution of its neighbours and partners.
Within the above powerful statement, the Master Plan includes three distinctive goals:

Goal #1: Urban Intensification - the Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex (completion 2018) combines student housing, academic uses, retail and pedestrian connections. Result: transformation of an underutilized lot into a vertical campus.

Skyline Award presentation
to Ryerson University
Goal #2: People First: Pedestrianization of the urban environment - a student-driven initiative successfully closed a segment of Gould Street to vehicle traffic, creating a natural relationship with the active ground floor of the Image Arts Building and Ryerson Image Centre. The area is perfect for the Gould Street Farmers Market and other pedestrian-oriented activities. RU intends to proceed with further efforts on Gould Street and other public realm key areas.

Goal #3: Commitment to Design Excellence - inherent within the design commitment are projects that raise the standard of what a public institution can be. The RU Student Learning Centre design prioritized student needs while openly engaging with its surroundings and earned a host of international awards. The Images Arts Building outside lighting features and the Image Centre exterior photo exhibits are reminders of the inspiration within university life both inside and outside of buildings. Repurposing the historic Maple Leaf Gardens into the mixed-use Mattamy Athletic Centre demonstrated a sensitivity to cultural history and underscored the RU connection to the surrounding community.

With minimal campus housing due to limited land, RU contracted with a developer to build a 600-bed student residence. Once complete in summer 2018, RU will provide the student administration and residence life services for a fee. Innovative partnerships solve urban campus challenges and set RU apart as an industry leader.

At the evening LAI Awards Dinner, Nic accepted the prestigious LAI Skyline Award on behalf of Ryerson University. The award recognizes noteworthy and commendable instances of the practical application of the principles of land economics in the preservation, development or utilization of our land resources. Nominated by the Simcoe Chapter, the LAI International Awards Committee evaluates and approves Skyline Award recipients.

Culture:
Toronto Islands @ sunset
A core attribute of a livable city, culture is a driver for attracting an educated, professional citizen base with disposable income. In addition, cultural events bring tourists, including metro area residents, to the downtown district for entertainment, dining and simple enjoyment.

Toronto is blessed with an array of cultural flavors ranging from The Blue Jays to the St. Lawrence Market to the eclectic Kensington Market area to The Toronto Islands & the Lake Ontario shoreline. In addition, Toronto is home to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) - per Time (2007): the most influential film festival, period.

In 2010, the TIFF Bell Lightbox (TBL) - a 42-story mixed-use complex located in the Entertainment District - opened as TIFF's permanent home. The Reitman Family (director & producer Ivan Reitman directed the original Ghostbusters movie) donated the land. Most of the additional funding came from a joint venture with Daniels Corporation to develop Festival Tower, a 373-unit condominium project above TBL.

LEW group in TIFF cinema
during tour
After the first day LEW Talks, the group walked around the corner from the hotel for a TBL tour. Impressive, the TBL opens into a five-story atrium and houses five cinemas, TIFF's administrative offices, a film reference library, and galleries. 

TIFF's commitment to sound integrity is astounding. In the cinemas, the design was crafted to maintain the original sound designated by the director as well as prevent exterior sound contamination. When an individual views a film at TIFF, no sound adjustment is permitted from the original soundtrack.

The first tour day ended at the Aga Khan Museum, located in the Toronto suburbs. When Ismaili Muslims were expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1972, their spiritual leader the Aga Khan appealed to the Canadian government for help. In the first wave, about 6,000 refuges arrived and established a strong Ismaili community. In 2002, the Aga Khan assembled property to build the Museum, the accompanying contemporary Persian gardens, and the adjacent Ismaili Centre.

Ismaili Centre in evening
Per the website, the Aga Kahn Museum mission is to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the contribution that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage. Through education, research, and collaboration, the Museum will foster dialogue and promote tolerance and mutual understanding among people.

In alignment with its mission, the Museum is home to a diverse Permanent Collection of more than 1,000 objects. An ever-changing roster of exhibitions and innovative programs including music and dance performances, theatre, lectures, workshops, and film screenings are presented at the Museum.

Following privately guided Museum and grounds tours, the LEW group was treated to a delightful dinner at Diwan Restaurant on the Museum ground floor.  As the evening progressed, the Ismaili Centre lit up as the Sun set creating a Divine view while dining.

LEW Co-Chair Leslie Yager moderated the second day LEW Talks with speaker introductions via clever, fun rhymes and set the perfect tone for the day! 

City of Toronto Urban Design Manager James Parakh's POPS culture LEW Talk presentation left the group in awe of Toronto's commitment to crafting a livable city. POPS - Privately Owned Publicly-Accessible Space, creative place making to enhance urban life - are integral to a downtown filled with public green space available for residents, the downtown work force, and tourists. 

Maintained by the private sector, over 100 POPS are currently mapped in Toronto. POPS are designed to complement existing and planned publicly owned parks, open spaces and natural areas.

What are POPS? Per James:
  • Places of retreat, relaxation, respite.
  • Places for social gathering & interaction.
  • Places to engage in civic life.
  • Places to view public art.
Public art within
Brookfield Place complex
Toronto is committed to creating an aesthetic downtown filled with green space and public art. The Toronto Official Plan includes the Percent for Public Art Program where 1% of capital project costs on private development projects go towards public art. Per the website:
The governing principle for the Percent for Public Art Program is that art is a public benefit to be enjoyed and experienced by residents and visitors throughout the city. The privately-owned art is intended to make buildings and open spaces more attractive and interesting and to improve the quality of the public realm. The Program requires that the artwork must be clearly visible at all times from publicly accessible areas. Alternatively, City Planning may seek public art contributions to be directed to City-owned public lands. 
Included in the cultural experience is the preserving of historical structures along with integrating history within contemporary development. Toronto is an excellent example of recognizing historical value within their current city planning and downtown development. 

After the second day LEW Talks, the group was treated to a meandering downtown walking tour hosted by local LAI Simcoe Chapter members. The tour included under renovation Union Station, The Royal York hotel, the Brookfield Place & Santiago Calatrava's stunning parabolic Galleria, and ended at the iconic St. Lawrence Market. Buses awaited the group at the St. Lawrence Market for the day's remaining tours.

The final second day tour destination was Corktown Common (CC), 2013 LAI Skyline Award recipient. Opened in 2013 as a part of Waterfront Toronto's revitalization, the 18-acre CC serves diverse purposes including flood protection for 500 acres of Toronto's eastern downtown, brownfield reclamation from prior industrial uses, and public green space including a pavilion and fountain.

Wetlands @ Corktown Common
Dedicated to sustainability, the pavilion and fountain electricity is solar powered. Storm water reclamation is used for irrigation. Wetlands and other park areas are designed to return CC to its ecological heritage.

While at CC, Derek Goring with First Gulf educated the LEW group on East Harbour, Canada's largest current commercial project. First Gulf is East Harbour's developer. 


Livable Cities
With impeccable timing, the LAI Global Chapter hosted an October 2016 WHAT MAKES OUR CITIES LIVABLE? A global view of what can be learned from the urban experience webinar presented by Ascent Director of Design and Planning Allen Folks. Although the webinar was Asian city-focused, it was inspiring to witness how Toronto aligns within Allen's prescription for a livable city.

Downtown Toronto: mix of
historic & contemporary buildings
In fact, The Economist lists Toronto as the fourth most livable city in 2016, only behind Melbourne, Vienna and Vancouver.

Toronto's growing global population, supported by efforts to welcome and integrate immigrants into the local culture, and substantial investments in affordable, urban housing complement Allen's livable city criteria. The focus on public transportation, a defined downtown plan, and ample public accessible green space and artwork are important ingredients for a livable city. Corktown Common's multifaceted purpose is a perfect example of the sustainability component in Allen's presentation.

Awards Dinner & Farewell
Consistent with protocol, the Toronto LEW closed with an Awards Dinner hosted at the CN Tower Horizons Restaurant; the sunset over the Lake Ontario was magnificent!

LAI International Fellow Ian Lord
with LAI Fellows
After a fabulous reception, LAI Simcoe Chapter President Bronwyn Krog gave welcoming remarks. Next LAI President Steven Gragg bestowed the high honor of International Fellow upon LAI Past President, Strategic Plan Chair & Council of Presidents Chair Ian Lord of the Simcoe Chapter. An International Fellow is an active member whose efforts significantly advanced the purposes, organization, or growth of LAI. 


Ian's family attended the Awards Dinner and his lovely wife Lori fastened the prestigious Fellow pin on Ian's lapel. Each of the International Fellows in attendance congratulated Ian at the podium with a friendly roast filled with compliments.

After dinner, LAI Awards Committee Chair Jim Fawcett (International Fellow & Past President) facilitated the Skyline Award to Ryerson University and International 2016 Member of the Year to Cheryl Soon of the Aloha Chapter. Cheryl serves as LAI Secretary.

The Honorable David Crombie received the 2015 Urban Affairs Award. At the Awards Dinner LAI First Vice-President Robert McBride presented Mr. Crombie with the physical award accompanied by a long list of impressive accolades.

Honorable David Crombie with
his 2015 Urban Affairs Award
From his six-year tenure as Toronto Mayor in the 1970's to his numerous prominent federal appointments in the international arena to his vital role in the formation of Toronto Waterfront to his 2015 appointment by the Premier of Ontario to lead a panel to look at the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, the Niagara Escarpment Plan, and the Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan, Mr. Crombie's urban affairs contributions are astounding. Isak Nes accompanied his grandfather Mr. Crombie to the Awards Dinner.

The final formal "business" was an appreciative farewell to the Toronto Fall LEW along with a hearty welcome to the Philadelphia Spring LEW, scheduled for April 27 - 29, 2017.

Congratulations to LEW Co-Chairs Russell Mathew | Leslie Yager and the entire LEW Committee for orchestrating an excellent, well planned visit to Toronto. Beyond educational, the tours were an opportunity to witness Toronto's success at crafting a livable city amidst staggering population growth and shifts.

LAI President Steven Gragg &
LAI First VP Robert McBride
Though Toronto may be an "accidental metropolis,"crafting a livable city is no accident; it requires commitment, planning and investment by the government, private enterprise and community towards common goals. Kudos to Toronto leadership for bringing visions to reality!

The Ei FB album, Toronto Land Economics Weekend, is a pictorial recount of the LEW, along with a section on Holly's self-guided walking tour. Unless otherwise noted photographs were courtesy of Holly.

LEW Talk PPT presentations are available for viewing on LEW Scribe Reports page. Note the page is available to LAI members only.

In addition to well orchestrated tours of a city's economic drivers, complete with in-depth, on-site education, LEWs are excellent venues to meet new global friends and spend time with long-term colleagues.... and the Philadelphia Spring 2017 LEW is a mere six months away!