On-Site Magazine

Fairmont Royal York receives Zero Carbon Building certification

By Adam Freill   

Construction Green Construction

Transformative project on historic building in downtown Toronto provides a roadmap for completing innovative, complex and financially viable hotel deep carbon retrofits.

Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto. (Photo: KingSett Capital)

The Fairmont Royal York hotel has received Canada Green Building Council’s (CAGBC) Zero Carbon Building – Performance Standard certification. The certification was attained after a $65 million retrofit project on the historic hotel in downtown Toronto that took almost five years of detailed planning and execution to complete.

Led by KingSett Capital, a Canadian private equity real estate firm, the building is expected to see its carbon footprint reduced by over 7,000 tonnes of carbon annually. This 80 per cent reduction of the hotel’s annual carbon emissions is the equivalent of taking 1,558 cars off the road.

“Fairmont Royal York’s decarbonization demonstrates the potential to complete a large and complex project in a way that is environmentally impactful, socially responsible and economically viable,” stated Jon Love, founder and CEO of KingSett Capital. “It is a compelling example of what can be accomplished through collaboration, innovation and creativity.”

His company sees the project as not only being good for the environment, but also part of a value enhancement strategy, bringing benefits to the firm as well as its clients.


“Fairmont Royal York achieving Zero Carbon Building Performance certification is another transformative step in repositioning this unique icon in Toronto’s downtown core,” said Edwin Frizzell, regional vice-president, Central Canada and general manager of Fairmont Royal York.” Decarbonizing a 94-year-old heritage building and retrofitting the hotel’s energy systems to be highly energy efficient was a complex challenge. We’ve proven that it can be done.”

The decarbonization project represents the largest heritage hotel retrofit of its kind within the Fairmont global brand portfolio and offers a roadmap for creating sustainable energy sources for similar properties.

“This complex project would not have been possible without our strong partnership with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), PCL Construction, and Enwave Energy Corporation,” added Love.

In crafting the plan for the retrofit, detailed study and analysis of building energy loads was conducted in an effort to identify where meaningful efficiencies could be found. Based on the research, heating and domestic hot water was concerted from steam to electric heat pumps, cooling transitioned from electrical/chillers to deep lake water cooling, and a centralized building automation system and smart technologies were also deployed.

“Congratulations to KingSett Capital and Fairmont Royal York on this industry-leading achievement,” said Marc Pascoli, senior vice-president, PCL Constructors Canada Inc. “As evidenced on this project, if a 94-year-old heritage asset can be decarbonized to achieve energy efficiency targets that reduce annual carbon emissions by 80 per cent, the possibilities are endless. With forward-thinking leadership and a positive mindset, investment, strategic partnerships, and a passionate pursuit of shared goals, PCL and our partners are proud to help chart the path to net zero.”





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