For Barbara Lawlor, President of Toronto’s Baker Real Estate, the concept of embracing “green” has seen a boom to her business. In fact, the entire condominium industry has developed a consciousness about energy efficiency and green sustainability.
The industry has created an environment that is environmentally responsible, and it has become a key design element in condominiums buildings. Condo ownership has never seen better days.
“In the last three years condominium sales have outpaced low-rise and have taken over 50% of the market – so as a lifestyle choice, it continues to grow, and part of that is the government mandate for vertical growth,” explains Lawlor. “Let’s face it, there just isn’t enough land within the GTA to meet the low-rise demand, so the best use of space is vertical, and condominiums are becoming more popular. Even young families are venturing into condos because of their convenience, location, transit etc. And let’s not forget those in transition, like empty nesters and young professionals, who don’t want to deal with upkeep. People lead very busy lives, so the more they can have their needs catered to, the better. In fact, most condo buildings today are like coming home to a luxury hotel, with all the amenities offered under your roof.”
However, the driving force at the end of the day is the bottom line. Educated homeowners have demanded the building industry include energy efficiencies.
“People are afraid of costs escalating. So energy efficiency is part of their checklist. For example, they really appreciate something like individual metering systems. Whatever will make the buildings more efficient and help defray costs, that’s the key for everybody – what’s it going to cost me?”
Ten years ago, energy efficiency and sustainable living may have been a part of the conversation but the uptake was slow. It wasn’t something that translated across the industry as a whole. “But the industry has stood up and deserves a round of applause in my mind for the tremendous efforts and strides it has made,”says Lawlor. “For instance, we represent the residences of the Ritz Carlton, and they have the Enwave deep water cooling system, which is very innovative and taps into the deep waters of Lake Ontario to heat and cool the building. So there are some very exciting things happening in the city including car sharing, bicycle storage — all of this to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. In fact we’re selling fewer and fewer parking spaces.”
In Lawlor’s mind, it’s not about green-washing today’s consumer. There has to be a solid green story regardless of where you’re building or what you’re building.
“Buyers are sophisticated, and they want to know that their building is going to be sustainable and function efficiently 10-20 years from now- not just today.”
Baker Real Estate Incorporated