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Green Good Design Awards ARCHIVE 2023 Green Architecture
Portland Commons | 2021-2023
  • Portland Commons | 2021-2023
  • Portland Commons | 2021-2023
  • Portland Commons | 2021-2023
Portland Commons | 2021-2023

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Architects: Sweeny&Co Architects Inc. 
Landscape Architects: NAK Design Strategies 
Heritage Architects: ERA Architects
Urban Planning: Acronym Urban Design and Planning
General Contractor: EllisDon
Client: Carttera Private Equities
Photographers: DesignStor

Located in Toronto’s downtown King-West district, Portland Commons infills an underdeveloped site with a new office building inspired by the vibrant heritage blocks of the neighbourhood. Portland Commons is designed to achieve LEED Zero Carbon, LEED v4 Platinum, WELL Building Gold, and WiredScore Platinum. It combines GHG elimination, energy efficiency, and resource reduction with features that support the health and wellbeing of the occupants, making Portland Commons a leading exemplar of a sustainable and healthy workplace.

The project revitalizes the neighborhood by introducing new office space, restaurants, and retail onto a former surface parking lot. A pedestrian focussed outdoor realm features plazas, mid-block walkways, and landscaped gardens. The new building flanks, and dramatically cantilevers over, the existing historical buildings on the block, preserving their heritage and allowing these structures to be adapted for new uses.

Portland Commons features a raised floor with underfloor air delivery. Individual air diffusers are provided for personal control of thermal comfort and minimizes fan/cooling energy use. Cooling air is delivered into the space at a higher temperature than traditional overhead air supply, extending the free-cooling period. This, accompanied with enhanced building insulation, HVAC heat recovery, and a Deep Lake Water district energy system, supports the LEED Zero Carbon operations of the building. Further, underfloor air delivery reduces contaminants in the airstream by avoiding the mixing of supply air and stale return air at the ceiling level. Operable windows and access to 13 outdoor terraces provide occupants with fresh air during the workday. A comprehensive stormwater strategy collects rainwater in larger cisterns to be re-used for flushing toilets. Low-flow plumbing fixtures are utilized for further water conservation. Green roofs occupy 53% of the roof area, supporting passive evaporative cooling. The remaining roofs serve as outdoor terraces.

This terraced form has been calculated to maintain full sun exposure on the adjacent Victoria Memorial Square park. Floor-to-ceiling high-performance glazing provides unobstructed views and natural lighting. LED lighting with downlight and indirect uplight optimizes lighting performance. Lighting controls have daylight and occupancy sensors to minimize energy use. The building is designed to support cyclists, with 367 bicycle parking spaces, all-gender showers, and changing rooms. Materials are responsibly sourced, with 43% recycled materials and a program to divert 75% of construction waste from landfill. Portland Commons demonstrates how a commercial office building can respect and reinforce the treasured urban qualities of a vibrant heritage neighborhood and become a model of sustainability.