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Daniels emphasizes people, planet, partnerships in impact report

Daniels highlighted its revitalization of Toronto's Regent Park neighbourhood to demonstrate its strides in building communities with strong social fabric through support for the local arts and recreation. (Courtesy The Daniels Corporation)

The Daniels Corporation, a Toronto real estate planner and developer, summarized its latest efforts in sustainable construction, community-building and supporting affordable housing in its 2021-2022 Impact Report.

It is the second impact report from Daniels, which has built over 35,000 homes across the Greater Toronto Area and has just under 5,000 homes under construction, according to chief operating officer Jacob Cohen.

The report revolves around three themes Daniels identified as crucial to its work: people, the planet and partnerships.

“We believe that we really have a responsibility as a builder and a developer to build complete communities; communities that are fully inclusive, communities that prioritize environmental sustainability and communities that are going to be resilient for generations to come,” Cohen told SustainableBiz.

How Daniels plans to build green

For two years, Daniels has been collecting data about the whole-life carbon impact of its buildings — from the construction phase to the building’s lifespan. It did not publish emissions data in the 2021-2022 Impact Report.

Cohen said Daniels is mostly exceeding its municipal sustainability targets, but has room to improve. Daniels is set to publish a decarbonization roadmap in February to disclose baseline performance levels, establish targets for emissions reduction and its reporting commitments to meet those targets.

This entails developing internal processes for data collection and analysis, and leveraging the data-set to reduce the carbon footprint of new communities.

The data will let Daniels set a benchmark, Cohen said. The intent is to create next-generation buildings that will exceed carbon emission reduction standards set by the Toronto Green Standard.

Field House Towns and MPV2

To highlight its work on low-carbon communities, Daniels wrote a case study about the 24-unit Field House Towns community in Toronto’s Regent Park. It features, among other elements:

  • solar panels for electricity;
  • heat pumps to recover heat from wastewater;
  • low-consumption toilets for efficient water use; and
  • electric vehicle charging stations.

In its first year, Daniels says Field House Towns generated 61,725 kW-h of solar energy, with 16 per cent of its electricity consumption from the rooftop solar array. The community cut its annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 72 tonnes and made an 85 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to Daniels’ conventionally-designed townhouses.

Adam Molson, vice-president of rental communities & sustainability, told SustainableBiz in an email, "For the 24-unit community, our model showed that they would emit 85,686 kilograms of CO2 per year if they were built using our conventional designs, whereas we were able to calculate actual emissions of 13,190 kilograms of CO2 for the first year of operations for the all-electric versions of the community we built using the data collected from the utility bills from that first year."

The success of Field House Towns inspired Daniels to pursue construction of the net-zero MPV2 community in Brampton, just north of Toronto. It is a 19-acre master-planned community that will feature condominiums  with geoexchange to heat and cool homes using the Earth as a thermal battery and net-zero townhomes featuring all-electric systems including rooftop solar panels.

Promoting the arts and culture in the Regent Park revitalization

To demonstrate its impact on the communities it builds, Daniels centred its latest impact report on the revitalization of Regent Park. Described as “highly stigmatized neighbourhood in which drugs, guns, gangs, and violence were the experience of everyday life,” Daniels and its partners worked over 16 years to revamp 53 acres of the Toronto neighbourhood.

It supported the development of a six-acre park and athletic grounds.

Cohen emphasized Daniels’ history of supporting local creatives. It spent $638,000 on local art procurement to adorn its communities with the work of local artists, rather than buying artwork in bulk from retailers.

This was continued through the BlackNorth Initiative in 2022 that promotes Black artists. It offered work-live studios on the Living Lane at the base of DuEast Condominium and Artworks Condominium at a 50 per cent reduction in lease rates.

Daniels also constructed Daniels Spectrum, an arts centre.

“We didn’t have to do that. We could have built another condo or a rental building," Cohen said about Daniels Spectrum. "But the diversity of what an arts and cultural centre brings to enliven a community — different community groups, the music groups, the dance groups, different people and cultures that interact in that space at the heart of Regent Park because arts and culture are fundamental — that is what real community building is about.”

Building affordable housing

Daniels partnered with Toronto Community Housing to build 1,261 rent-geared-to-income replacement homes and 403 new affordable rental homes in Regent Park. It created three core shared-equity mortgage programs for homeownership in the neighbourhood: Foundation, First Home BOOST and the Partnership for Affordable Ownership.

Cohen said Partnership for Affordable Ownership carved out $5 million from Daniels’ own bottom line to fund the program.

It provided nine families with down-payment assistance up to 50 per cent of the price of a new home at Daniels’ Parliament condominium through an interest- and monthly payment-free second mortgage loan up to 20 years.

Daniels’ other impact initiatives

  • Spending $197,000 to support accessibility initiatives.
  • Spending $903,000 on social procurement.
  • Spending $400,000 to support Indigenous organizations and initiatives.
  • Building 174 affordable housing units for Peel Living in Mississauga City Centre 1.
  • Fostering local economic development with the CRAFT pre-apprenticeship program to offer training for residents in the trades.

Read the report here.

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