Gemini House Tour and Volunteering at Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre (WNC)

Hello readers!

CECA is working hard at analyzing data from the energy audit. In the meantime, we have also dedicated a large amount of time to spread awareness on the importance of sustainable buildings.


We, at CECA UofT, wanted to spread awareness of innovation in sustainable building design by considering projects completed on campus! One such amazing project is Gemini House ! This complex project included the retrofit of a 1880s masonry home and explored numerous methods of low-energy housing. The main approach, deemed GEMINI NTED™, was to thermally isolate the building into two zones and controlling the heating/cooling requirements separately within the zones. This project was an initiative of Ryerson University along with University of Toronto (led by Professor Kim Pressnail).

What better way to educate interested students about innovation in sustainable building design than arranging for the lead professor who worked on the project to give a tour?With this plan in mind, CECA worked with the professor to finalize the event and even on a rainy day, we had about 20 student attendees eager and excited to learn about this project. Thank you to all those who attended!

Glimpses of the Gemini House Tour event led by Professor Kim Pressnail


As evident from the energy audit, we are very excited to be working with WNC for the Green Energy Challenge. During our visit, we learned a lot about the services they provide for the community and we wanted to be active in giving back and volunteering our time to engage with the community members.

With this in mind, we corresponded with community development leaders at WNC to host an interactive workshop on the importance of energy conservation! Our audience? Children aged 6-12 years in WNC’s “After 4” after-school program because we believe that the earlier we educate people about energy and environmental conservation, the better!

CECA members leading a workshop with children in WNC’s After-4 after school program
CECA leaders planned 3 rotations of workshops for the participants:

First (pictured on top and bottom left), the children made use of flowcharts and images to demonstrate an overall understanding of climate change. They also engaged in a story-telling format about the “life of carbon” to learn about where carbon emissions come from and where they end up.

Second (pictured bottom right), was an interactive demonstration of lighting efficiency. We brought 3 lamps: incandescent, fluorescent and LED along with an infrared thermometer. We asked the kids to predict the most efficient lighting system and used the thermometer to record temperatures of the bulbs when they were on. This was a lot of fun for the children as they had to think critically to understand the correlation between heat loss and lighting. Rest assured, “LED” was a new concept and we were glad they were able to see its efficiency comparative to incandescent and florescent lights!

Designing and crafting for the “Green House Challenge”!
Lastly, after getting an overall background on climate change and about lighting, we challenged the children to design their own “Green House” (pictured above). We showed them examples of elements that can make homes better including incorporating: LED lights, solar panels, composting, wind turbine, green roofs and more! As pictured above, the children (and also some of our CECA members) had a fun time using colours and being creative to make their own dream “Green House”.


The After 4 Program was not the end of CECA’s efforts to educating the community. In addition to our last visit, CECA members visited WNC for a third time on April 21st for an Earth Day event workshop in collaboration with WNC’s Senior’s Community & Development team. WNC representatives made us aware of the fact that there was a large population in their seniors community that were paying hefty energy and hydro bills. This was due to lack of information available to them and due to their lack of knowledge about ways to cut back and save energy as well as the costs. In an effort to close this gap, CECA members led a presentation, showing the attendees about how to read the bills and simple steps they can take to cut back on costs and conserve energy simultaneously.

CECA members, Greg Peniuk and Mackenzie De Carle, in conversation with WNC’s senior community about energy consumption and ways to lower energy bills.



Overall, we, at CECA, have really enjoyed getting to spread our knowledge on sustainable buildings and energy conservation with community. From student awareness through the Gemini House tour to getting engaged with the community at WNC, educating the public on the importance of sustainability and innovative steps taken in that direction has been a valuable experience for us. Giving back to the community by sharing our passion for sustainability has been a highlight and we want to thank all those who have helped guide us towards this direction!


Energy Audit 2017: Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre!

We, at CECA UofT Chapter, have been making some strides with this year’s Green Energy Challenge Competition 2017 so we wanted to update you. This year, we have chosen to work with the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre (WNC) and they graciously hosted our team to collect data on their site for the energy audit.

What’s an “Energy Audit”?

An Energy Audit is an important information tool to understand how energy is being used to operate a building. For the purposes of our audit this year, we took a tour of the WNC building and and gathered data on energy use due to: lighting (luminescence measure), plug loads (use of electrical appliances), and HVAC systems (heating and cooling systems). Other observations included looking at building envelopes and checking for places in need of improvements/retrofits within existing building structure (eg adding solar panels or natural lighting).

Scroll below for some pictures of our shenanigans as we took a tour of WNC for the energy audit last week!


First off, the team met some representatives at WNC who gave us a general tour of the centre. We got to check out various rooms hosting workshops for community members, the gym and the roof!


After the tour, the team divided into groups to get information on lighting and the mechanical system (HVAC).


Several key measures were taken into consideration for lighting. This included noting the type of lights, measuring distances from lighting system relative to the room and also checking the luminescence quality with lights on and off using a smartphone app. In addition, the lighting team observed plug loads by considering different electronic devices that were being used in rooms.



The solar/HVAC team got access to the building’s mechanical room to understand and gather information on the types of air conditioners and boilers being used to provide heating and cooling. Moreover, a big part of the challenge is considering solar and other renewable sources! For this reason, the roof was also visited to assess if panels could be an option for WNC.


As you can make out, the team did a lot of work by recording and taking meticulous measurements for the audit. However, we also had some fun!


Pictured is one of our members geared with: an infrared thermometer, an infrared camera and an ONSET temperature/RH data logger. It’s great at sensing and logging data on heat but also great for selfies!

That is the end of our audit update! Be sure to follow this blog for more updates on how the data collected is going to be used to suggest recommendations for WNC as we progress with “Green Energy Challenge 2017”.





CECA UofT is currently hard at work for the 2017 Green Energy Challenge. In order to get a little inspiration, we’ve had a look at 10 Sustainable Buildings that can be found here in Toronto! Check them out below:


3-flynn-green-roof-td-2200x900_c.jpgOver 21,000 employees work at the Toronto-Dominion Centre making it Canada’s largest business complex. The complex is made up of 6 buildings which are all LEED Platinum certified thanks to numerous sustainable upgrades, including lighting retrofits, a 22,000 sq. ft. green roof, and numerous waste management programs. Learn More


Untitled-3Located at 31 Sussex Ave., the Gemini House is a research collaboration between the University of Toronto and Ryerson University. The complex project included the retrofit of a 1880s masonry home and explored numerous methods of low-energy housing. The main approach, deemed GEMINI NTED™, was to thermally isolate the building into two zones. The “core” zone included frequently used rooms requiring heating/cooling on a daily basis. The “periphery” zone included less used rooms which were thermally separated and could be warmed/cooled on demand. Learn More


promotionalimage-rpath-1200-0-medium-1484579300605.jpgGeorge Brown‘s 300,000 sq ft  LEED Gold Certified campus is located on Toronto’s waterfront and boosts numerous sustainable features. The campus utilizes low flow plumbing, an accessible green roof, and carbon dioxide sensors to monitor and control ventilation. Learn More


Untitled-3-Recovered999Designed by William Dewson Architects, 27 Farham Avenue is the first home to be LEED Platinum certified in the GTA. The home’s notable sustainable features include a solar array system, a permeable driveway and a geothermal system consisting of six 180-foot deep wells which supply heating and cooling. Learn More

5. RBC WaterPark Place III

Untitled-3..jpgLocated at 85 Harbour St., RBC WaterPark Place is certified as an LEED Core and Shell Platinum building. The building, completed in 2014, has implemented numerous sustainable features such as deep lake water cooling , a 7,500 sq ft green roof, heat reclamation, and high-efficiency condensing boilers.  Learn More

6. The Barrymore Building – Knoll Showroom

24380094134_13431cae1e_bBuilding-TC--698x364Built in 1912, the Barrymore Building was an industrial facility home to the Barrymore Furniture factory. Today, the building has been converted into numerous retail spaces and offices. The most notable is the LEED Platinum certified Knoll Showroom featuring numerous environmental design elements. The showroom maximizes the use of natural light and makes use of locally extracted and manufactured materials. Learn More 

7. GRIT Lab

gritgritThe Green Roof Innovation Testing Laboratory, or GRIT Lab for short, is located above the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at 230 College Street. Although the building itself is not notably sustainable, the state-of-the-art rooftop research facility investigates numerous sustainable technologies such as green roofs, green walls, and photovoltaic arrays. In total, the facility contains 33 green roof test beds, 3 green walls, 2 photovoltaic modules, a weather station, and over 300 sensors continuously collecting data. Learn More

8. 222 Jarvis Street Building Retrofit


In 2012, this brutalist style building underwent intensive renovations to create a light-filled sustainable workplace for the Ontario Government. The retrofit, designed by WSMH Architects, included the removal of parts of the building to create a new four-storey feature lobby. Energy-efficient glazing and mechanical and electrical upgrades also helped the building achieved an LEED Gold, Class-A rating. Learn More

9. The Berczy Condominiums

module_projects_gallery_photo_669photo.jpgDesigned by Young + Wright / IBI Group Architects, the Berczy Condominiums were completed in 2014 with LEED Gold Certification. The building incorporated environmental features such as highly efficient mechanical systems, a rooftop garden, and recycled building materials. Learn More

10. 20A Senlac Road

ffa41efc598b00eff8494eb65d79e77e20A Senlac Road is a home built entirely out of prefabricated modules, which can be fully assembled in approximately a week. This particular home included 6 modules which were shipped from Bristol, Indiana. Check out the installation sped up in the video above! The home is LEED Gold certified with low-flow plumbing fixtures, VOC-free paints, a solar array system, and a green roof. Learn More

What’s your favourite sustainable building in Toronto? Like us on Facebook and let us know!

Written by: Patrick Minardi

2016 Green Energy Challenge – Boston

In the 2016 summer the UofT CECA Student Chapter had received news that they were one of the finalist teams for the 2016 Green Energy Challenge (GEC) presented by Electri International. Only being in the competition for two years the team was very excited to compete at the finals level of the GEC as well as get the opportunity to interact with industry professionals at the NECA convention.

The 2016 GEC challenge focused on an energy retrofit (focusing on lighting systems and renewable energy) for a local school facility. The UofT CECA chapter paired with University of Toronto Schools for their project. After several site visits, energy and lighting takeoffs, feasibility analysis, and Revit modelling – the team put together a retrofit solution that would reduce the building’s lighting loads by 60% with a payback period of only 5.3 years.

The 2016 NECA convention was held in Boston, MA on October 7th – 10th. Six of the team members were selected to attend the conference and present the UofT team’s proposal for the GEC. The team had a fantastic time in Boston and secured third place in the competition.

The team looks forward to next year’s competition and is aiming to take first place!

Interview with CECA Executive

Recently, one of our outreach team members for the 2016 Green Energy Challenge, Nataliya Pekar, conducted an interview with one of our current CECA executives, co-founder, former Projects Manager and current Communications Coordinator, Matheos Tsiaras, about the chapter and what it is up to these days.

The interview was published in a full page spread in The Cannon (, UofT Engineering’s Student Newspaper, and can be read in full below!


Nataliya: First thing’s first – what is CECA and what does the U of T Student Chapter aim to accomplish?

Matheos: Primarily, The Canadian Electrical Contractors Association brings together electrical contractors across the country to share experience and advice. Our chapter is an extension of this initiative to the student community, and we’re the first in Canada! Our goal is to engage students to learn about electrical contracting from firsthand experience, and to bridge the gap between contracting and engineering both within Canada, and between Canada and the United States (our chapter is also affiliated as the 30th chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association, the American equivalent of CECA).

We also host networking and social events, connect students with scholarship and job opportunities, and compete in international design competitions such as the Electri International Green Energy Challenge and most recently the Student Passport Initiative.

Nataliya: More specifically, what have you done so far?

Matheos: The majority of our success has been spreading awareness and increasing excitement around electrical contracting within the engineering community at U of T. With the incredible support of our industry contact with CECA, Tom Vivian, our faculty advisor, Brenda McCabe, and everyone else who has helped along the way, the successful launch of the chapter in May 2014 and a great first year is a huge success on its own.

More specifically, the chapter competed in the 2015 Green Energy Challenge and scored fourth place for their lighting and back-up power retrofit proposal for Good Sheppard Ministries – a shelter in downtown Toronto. Additionally, the chapter placed second in the poster competition for the 2015 challenge. This year, with the help of CECA and several local contractors, our proposal is actually being realized at Good Sheppard, which we are really excited about.

In late fall of 2015 the U of T CECA Student chapter was approached by the Penn State University NECA to join them to construct a solar powered water pumping station for a community of 600 in Roatan, Honduras. This is part of the Student Passport Competition which Penn State won with their proposal last year. Two members of our chapter, Mackenzie de Carle and Dmitri Naoumov, were in Honduras during the week of March 7 to build the station. We hope to join this competition again next year.

Nataliya: Tell me more about the specifics of these competitions.

Matheos: The majority of the work is for the Green Energy Challenge. Typically the project consists of conducting an energy audit of a site and then proposing a renewable energy implementation and a lighting retrofit. We plan a new electrical system, figure out the construction scheduling, and work with local contractors to do a cost estimate. Then we put together a short pre-proposal and then a final proposal submission in April. A winner is picked from a selection of finalists at the annual NECA Convention, last year it was in San Francisco and a bunch of us from the chapter actually attended for the 2015 poster competition!

For the Student Passport Initiative, the idea is similar. Teams who wish to participate submit a short proposal detailing a renewable energy solution that they would like to implement in a developing country or rural community of their choice. The most exciting part is that the winning proposal receives funding to allow the students to go and implement their design.

Nataliya: You went to San Francisco? How was that?

Matheos: It was great! We were able to gain from watching presentations from the finalist teams, and it was here that we won second place for our poster for the 2015 Green Energy Challenge. Aside from this, there were several keynote presentations, including one from Sal Khan, the creator of Khan Academy, and countless networking and social events for students and industry professionals to attend. Attending the convention was a fantastic way for us to get immersed in the electrical contracting world, to meet fellow student chapters and share experiences, and to network with industry professionals. And of course, there was ample free time to explore the beautiful city of San Francisco and all that it has to offer. The team thoroughly looks forward to attending the 2016 NECA Convention in Boston.

Nataliya: Can you expand on participating in the Passport Competition and your trip?

Matheos: Participating in the Student Passport Competition was an incredible experience. Not only was it a great way to get introduced to the competition and how it all works, but Mackenzie de Carle and Dmitri Naoumov, the students who went on the trip, will both say that being able to actually travel to Honduras and help build the solar powered water pumping station and see first-hand the positive impact it will have on the community was a feeling that is tough to put into words. We would like to thank Penn State for allowing us to piggyback on their proposal this year, and we hope to submit our own proposal next year.

Nataliya: What are you currently working on?

Matheos: The 2016 Green Energy Challenge is currently in full swing, and the team is hard at work on it. The competition this year centres on an energy audit, lighting retrofit, and solar PV array installation at a local school, and we are working with University of Toronto Schools (UTS), a high school near campus, for this competition. The team is holding a site visit on March 21 to collect data about the existing conditions of the school, and the final proposal is due on April 4. As well, the team is working on its outreach strategy for the competition, which will likely include an event hosted by the team either at the school itself or on university grounds to spread sustainable energy awareness.

Nataliya: Where are you hoping to expand?

Matheos: As early as next year, we hope to submit our own proposal for the Student Passport Initiative. Into the future, we hope to be a part of the initiative that leads to the creation of more CECA chapters across Canadian universities.

Overall, we want to spread awareness and education and are always looking to collaborate with others clubs at U of T.

Nataliya: So, what can students do if they join your club? What kind of expertise is required?

Matheos: All students are welcome to join the CECA chapter, being an engineering student is not required whatsoever. We hope students are not turned away by feeling their expertise does not match with the work that we do, we welcome everybody as anyone can meaningfully contribute.

We are proud to say participating is a great learning experience for everyone involved. There is something for everyone who is interested in green energy and sustainable design.

Nataliya How can students get involved and where can they get more information?

Matheos: Students can send us an email at if they are interested in anything that the chapter is doing. We can also be found at a booth at both the Frosh Week Clubs Fair and the U of T Sustainability Conference Tradeshow, which occur annually.

Students can also check out our blog at And soon we will have up and running! This blog is being regularly updated as part of the outreach strategy during the Green Energy Challenge, and summarizes all activities surrounding the chapter.

Nataliya: Thank you! Good luck in the Green Energy Challenge!

Matheos: Thanks!

Making Waves in the Electrical Contracting Student Chapter World

This group of undergraduate civil engineers at the University of Toronto are going where no students have gone before; at least not in Canada. Only one year ago, the first student chapter of the Canadian Electrical Contractors Association was founded at the university, and this chapter was the first international chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association of the USA. Since their inception, the U of T student chapter has made significant progress in advancing the electrical contracting industry amongst its students. In 2015, the chapter competed in the Electri International Green Energy Challenge, where they designed a solar PV microgrid system and back-up power plan for Good Shepherd Ministries, a homeless shelter in downtown Toronto. They placed 4th overall at the annual NECA Convention in San Francisco, CA in October.

For 2016, the chapter has even bigger and better plans. In addition to spearheading the creation of more student chapters across Canadian universities, the chapter is participating in both the 2016 Green Energy Challenge and 2016 Electri International Student Passport Initiative. The 2016 Green Energy Challenge entails the design of a solar PV array with an accompanying educational component for grade 7-12 students at University of Toronto Schools, a local high school.

The Student Passport Initiative is the chapter’s most exciting project for the year. The initiative is open to all student chapters, and it allows chapters to submit designs and develop a plan for installing or adding to electrical service available to an underdeveloped community somewhere around the world. This year the chapter is joining Penn State University on a trip to Honduras in March 2016 to help build a solar powered water pumping station with the help of local contractors. As part of the outreach effort for this endeavour, the chapter raised $6,000 to help fund travel and construction expenses. The chapter would like to thank Alltrade Industrial, Fitzpatrick Electric, and Fusion Energy for their generous contribution.

2016 Green Energy Challenge Underway

Less than one year after returning from the NECA Convention in San Francisco with a 2nd place certificate and $750 cheque from the 2015 Green Energy Challenge Poster Competition, and the satisfaction of a very respectable 4th place finish in the full challenge, the Northern Lights Solutions team is back at it again with the 2016 Green Energy Challenge, with the goal of improving on last year’s results.

This year, the theme for the Challenge is called “Eco-School Business Development”. Teams are challenged to design an energy upgrade for a school facility (K-12) in their community that will include the design of a small-scale PV system that will serve as a teaching and learning tool for students. An emphasis will be placed on detailed technical solutions for proposed systems, including lighting retrofit and integrated window treatments/controls, detailed design of 4-5kW PV system based on system specifications, and the re-design of an energy efficiency upgrade to a facility that responds to the unique needs of the building and climate. Teams will be expected to develop efforts to support the engagement of teachers and students in the building and in energy and sustainability education.

The Northern Lights Solutions team is very excited to be working with University of Toronto Schools (UTS) for the Challenge. UTS is a university preparatory school, grades 7 through 12, affiliated with the University of Toronto. Located on U of T’s St. George Campus, UTS offers high-achieving students a specialized curriculum and a unique co-educational learning environment that encourages creative interests and physical activity as well as a sense of social responsibility.

More information about UTS can be found at their website,

Much progress has already been made on the 2016 challenge thus far; the team recently submitted the Pre-Proposal document, which outlined the existing conditions of the building and potential retrofits that can be made to improve its energy efficiency.

Stay tuned for more progress updates throughout the remainder of the project!


Pictured above: University of Toronto Schools exterior view from Bloor Street, Toronto