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June 22, 2018

Cooper Canada factory in Toronto striving to be a ‘platinum’ green space

Dr. Elliot Strashin had his eye on purchasing the old Cooper Canada sporting goods factory at 501 Alliance Ave. in the York area of Toronto, long before he learned of his family’s connection to the land on which it was built.

Strashin is the third generation to run the 65-year-old S. Strashin and Sons Ltd., which specializes in developing, repositioning and greening the city’s old factory buildings. It is the company’s ideology that the greenest building is the one that already exists.

“In other words, you’d never recapture the carbon deficit that you incur by tearing down an existing building and trying to build a new one no matter how green you try to make that building,” Strashin said.

Since purchasing it five and a half years ago, Strashin discovered the factory is situated on property originally owned by the Dennis family to whom his wife is related. Patriarch John Dennis is her great, great, great, great grandfather, a fact he calls serendipitous.

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Strashin is striving for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum, the highest rating for sustainable development and “doing so on a renovation project is almost unheard of,” he said.

He expects the retrofit’s completion within the next two to three years. The former factory has been outfitted with a 298-kilowatt solar farm on its white, reflective roof; LED lighting, energy-efficient windows and increased insulation.

“We collect the water off the roof to flush the toilets, but the most important feature is our geothermal or ground source heat pump, which provides the heating and cooling for the building,” Strashin said. “Not only does it do that, but it also heats the hot water and even the sidewalks.”

It’s Strashin’s vision to create a green technology hub in Mount Dennis, which is in line with Mount Dennis Community Association’s eco-neighbourhood initiative. A sustainable community needs sustainable development, chair Mike Mattos said.

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