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“We’ve proven that it can be done” – decarbonizing the 94-year-old Royal York

November 23, 2023  By  Anthony Capkun


From left: Edwin Frizzell, vice-president Central Canada, and general manager, Fairmont Royal York; Jon Love, founder & CEO, KingSett Capital. Source: CNW Group/KingSett Capital. Larger photo below.

November 23, 2023 – After nearly five years of planning and execution, Toronto’s iconic Fairmont Royal York achieved the Canada Green Building Council’s Zero Carbon Building–Performance Standard certification.

“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,” said Jon Love, founder & CEO, KingSett Capital, a Canadian private equity real estate firm.

The $65-million undertaking will reduce over 7000 tonnes of carbon annually, or 80% of the hotel’s annual carbon emissions.

For KingSett, added Love, the project “highlights how decarbonization can strengthen a key asset in our portfolio as part of our sustainability and value enhancement strategy”.

“It is a compelling example of what can be accomplished through collaboration, innovation and creativity,” Love said.

Love recognized the partnerships that made this achievement possible: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Canada Infrastructure Bank, PCL Construction, and Enwave Energy Corp.

From left: Edwin Frizzell, vice-president Central Canada, and general manager, Fairmont Royal York; Jon Love, founder & CEO, KingSett Capital. Source: CNW Group/KingSett Capital.

The project was supported by the CIB’s Building Retrofits Initiative, which provided $46.5 million in debt financing.

How did they do it?

“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,” said Edwin Frizzell, Fairmont Royal York.

The path to CAGBC certification was achieved by:

• Detailed study and analysis of building energy load, seeking to effect meaningful efficiencies.
• Converting heating and domestic hot water from steam to electric heat pumps that employ heat recovery from Enwave’s district energy network.
• Converting cooling from electrical/chillers to Enwave’s Deep Lake Water Cooling system.
• Improving energy efficiency with a centralized building automation system and smart technologies.

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


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