With the coming of August, I have been in Toronto for three months. During the last three months, I have worked as an intern at the Ulto Property Group Inc. in Toronto, with the goal of learning the concepts of green building in practice.
Ulto Property Group is a specialized web and traditional real estate investment and management firm engaged primarily in the management of residential and commercial properties throughout the Greater Toronto Area and Southern Ontario. Its properties host hotels, restaurants and apartments. Led by principals with over 100 years combined real estate experience and new technological tools, the mission of Ulto Property Group is to focus on efficiency, responsiveness, and cost-effectiveness to build, construct and manage its properties.
I work at Urban Living Suites under Ulto Property Group. Urban Living Suites is a green hotel currently undergoing renovation and implementing improvements such as adopting more environmentally friendly policies in its operation. For the first two weeks, I reviewed and studied Ulto Property Group’s previous reports on green building in order to internalize general concepts and to familiarize myself with industry practice.
After the general introductory period, I started to independently conduct research into environmentally sustainable ways to renovate. The work I did included tasks such as conducting research and assembling reports on the most environmentally sustainable sealers for the terrazzo flooring in the lobby. In particular, I looked at brands such as CoverTec, which produces odorless floor sealers approved by Energy Star, USDA and NSF.
I also looked into the eco-friend brand Water Matrix. Specifically, I considered the pros and the cons of installing their Ultra High Efficiency 3.9 Litre Toilet. While most households and hotels utilize 10-13 litres of water per flush, the Ultra High Efficiency 3.9 only uses 3 litres per flush.
In helping to create environmentally sustainable policy for the currently operating hotel as well as future boutique hotel projects, I looked into Matrix Enviro-Clean by Water Matrix, a non-toxic solution used with the Water Matrix’s urinals that neutralize and deodorize bacteria. Moreover, I suggested the Xeros Laundry System for future energy and water usage efficiency as it replaces 80% of water traditionally used with 1.5 million polymer beads. The polymer beads clean better than a conventional washing machine by using new technology when it is combined with a specialized detergent, the beads’ molecular structure attracts dirt. In sum, Xeros Laundry System uses 80% less water, 50% less energy and 50% less detergent.
As of now, I feel as if I am making an impact in contributing to environmental sustainability in my work at Ulto Property Group. In this process, I learned a great deal in not only the theory but also the practice of green building. However, I also learned through this experience that the learning process of being educated about green building is a long and complex journey of which I am only at the beginning. I hope with great anticipation to continue to travel down this road in the future.
Yuye Li is a cohort 4 MDP student at the University of Waterloo. Yuye completed her BSc in Environmental Management & Geomatics at Nanjing University, China, and University of Waterloo. Her interests include food security, climate change, and urban development.