When can we get buildings like this in Ottawa?
September 05, 2008 by Eric McGuinness in The Hamilton Spectator (Sep 5, 2008) West Village Suites is the greenest of green buildings in Hamilton.
The nine-storey, condo-style, student housing tower on Main Street West is the first building in the city to earn a LEED platinum rating — the highest level in Canada’s green-building evaluation system.
Features that helped earn the platinum certification include a white roof, solar water heating, a system that uses rainwater to flush toilets, energy-recovery ventilators in each suite and motion-activated lights in the stairwells.
But LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — also considers things like minimizing construction waste, choosing renewable building materials, encouraging use of bicycles and providing daylit interior spaces.
The $20-million West Village Suites, with 107 units that can accommodate 450 McMaster University students, is by far the largest of the eight platinum projects in Canada and the only residential highrise, according to the latest list on the Canadian Green Building Council website.
Ontario has only two other platinum-certified buildings, one in Vaughan and one in Ottawa.
"It’s certainly good news for Hamilton — this city needs to be recognized for green things," says Rob Manherz, president of Dundurn Capital Partners, a private company that financed the project built and run by two subsidiaries, Dundurn Edge Developments and Dundurn Property Management respectively.
In an area where student housing isn’t always welcome, West Village has also proven to be neighbour-friendly since it opened last fall. The newsletter of the Ainslie Wood-Westdale Community Association of Resident Homeowners recently congratulated the developers, saying: "They have reason to be proud of what they have accomplished. The building is impressive in every way."
Manherz, 47, who lives in Ancaster, has been described as a serial entrepreneur. He founded ReserveAmerica Inc., which became North America’s largest supplier of campground reservation services, with 1,000 employees, before he sold it to TicketMaster in 2001. He then became a principal and president of 401 Capital Partners, a private equity and venture capital company, before launching Dundurn Capital Partners.
Dundurn owns Main West Plaza across from the West Village site formerly occupied by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. It recently invested $2.3 million in a Quebec firm developing technology to capture carbon dioxide from flue gas at coal-fired power plants and has a stake in a Burlington-based company that has developed a glossy-paper coating that uses starch instead of latex.
It’s seeking to rezone the former Thistle Club site in Durand neighbourhood for an energy-efficient condo complex and is interested in building student housing developments similar to West Village in Thorold and Oshawa.