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Royal York’s carbon-slashing retrofit

The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto has long tried to be a friend of nature — as demonstrated with its pioneering rooftop honeybee project launched in 2008. As of this year, their eco-conscious commitment reached new heights. Following a $65-million retrofit, it was awarded the Canada Green Building Council’s Zero Carbon Building certification. The retrofit slashes more than 7,000 tonnes of carbon annually, the equivalent of taking 1,558 cars off the road. The project marks the largest heritage hotel retrofit of its kind in North America.

Significant investment went to replacing the hotel’s aging steam heating system with an electric heat pump plant. “Now everything in terms of the heating systems for the building is basically generated from our own green energy supply,” says GM Edwin Frizzell. The hotel also connected to Enwave’s deep lake water cooling (DLWC) system, which uses water from Lake Ontario to cool the building.

The Royal York has implemented other sustainability measures in recent years, notes Frizzell, such as eliminating single-use plastics for guests. They’re also using AI to measure food waste, with the goal of reducing waste by 25 percent. “Everything we do, we do big,” says Frizzell. “It’s really just part of the spirit of this hotel to be at the heart of the community.” 

–LANA HALL

Photography by Vintage Travel And Advertising Archive / Alamy Stock Photo


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