LEED Spotlight: Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre certifies LEED Gold

We spoke to Jim Derenzis, Director of Facilities Management, University of Toronto Scarborough, about this achievement that will leave a green legacy while serving athletes, students and the community. The certification also represents a few milestones: the first U of T building to certify LEED Gold, and the first of the Pan Am venue buildings to achieve LEED certification.

Key features

The new LEED Gold certified Pan Am Sports Centre.

Co-owned by the University of Toronto and the City of Toronto in a unique partnership, the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre is a hub of activity and collaboration for University of Toronto students, members of the community, and high performance athletes, underpinned by a shared value of a healthy, active lifestyle. As a legacy venue for the Pan Am & Parapan American Games (meaning it will continue to be used following the event), the third largest international multi-games competition in the world, the facility will host swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, fencing, Modern pentathalon, sitting volleyball and in-line roller speed skating events. 

This state-of-the-art building is the largest new-build sports facility for the 2015 Pan Am & Parapan American Games, and is considered one of the largest investments in Canadian amateur sport history. At 393,628 square-feet, it includes seating for 8,000 Games spectators, two internationally sanctioned 10-lane 50-metre pools, a 5-metre deep diving tank, a four-court gymnasium, an indoor walking/running track, a climbing wall, conditioning rooms, a high performance testing centre, studio spaces, and a state-of-the-art fitness centre.

In addition to hosting the Pan Am Games and providing facilities for University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) students and community members, the sports centre is home to the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario, the leading high performance sports organization in the province, and Wheelchair Basketball Canada's National Academy. In addition, Diving Plongeon Canada, Swimming Canada, Synchro Canada and Water Polo Canada have moved components of their training programs to the facility.

The Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre is built to the highest standards of accessibility, from entrances and pathways to dressing rooms, lockers, washrooms and showers.There are also tethering stations for service animals available throughout the building, and emergency provisions include areas of refuge and an evacuation chair; medical and treatment rooms include height adjustable tables.

Highlights include:

  • Containing mostly sedum mixes that were pre-grown and transplanted to the site where they were planted in an optimal four-inch depth growth medium, the green roof covers 5,632 m2 of the building's roof (30 per cent).
  • Overall building materials are comprised of 30 per cent recycled content
  • 100 per cent of the facility's property irrigation demand is met using non-potable rainwater harvested by underground cisterns buried in various locations
  • 1,854 solar panels installed on the roof can generate up to 593 kW of power per hour, reducing energy consumption of the building by up to 10 to 15 per cent
  • LED lighting throughout the building consumes 80 per cent less energy than incandescent, and about 35 per cent less than fluorescent

LEED Gold achieved through partnerships



State-of-the-art indoor track.

The partners, together with Infrastructure Ontario, specified that design and construction of the facility would adhere to the guidelines and sustainability principles of the LEED rating system, the most widely used and industry recognized green building rating system. In addition, the project set out to comply with the City of Toronto's Toronto Green Standard (TGS).

The professionals on the delivery team including PCL Constructors Canada Inc., are practiced at designing and constructing projects to the LEED standards, benefitting both the design/build team and the owners. With the evolution of environmentally conscious building practices, what was considered a premium service has become standard to the way PCL builds. With an initial target of achieving LEED Silver for the facility, PCL, in partnership with LEED consultant Halsall Associates, was able to maximize value to achieve an even higher level of intended certification, LEED Gold, which stands as a testament to the value of strong partnerships and close collaboration.

What drove the U of T and the City of Toronto to build green

We are driven to be leaders in institutional environmental responsibility as well as provide the facility with operational benefits and cost effectiveness over the long term. UTSC is known for leading scholarship in the environment—addressing the social and ecological dimensions of natural resources and the environment to improve sustainability. That's why at UTSC, being green means being connected—to the local farmers who supply our food outlets, through our academic endeavours, and by our responsibility to future generations.

We are committed to building a sustainable community through outreach and education on important issues like climate change, resource valuation, and conservation. We're planning responsibly, preserving resources and reducing our environmental impact. Faculty, staff, and students are reducing our environmental footprint by conserving energy, promoting renewable energy, alternative transportation and recycling.

The value of certification for athletes, students and the community



The internationally-sanctioned pools have eco-friendly air and water treatment systems.

This certification demonstrates the social responsibility taken on by the owners and by the federal government, as well as the global audience that will be attending the games. Building facilities with sustainable features ensures environmentally-responsible and efficient buildings that will last for years. UTSC has enthusiastically incorporated energy conservation strategies in the operation, renovation and construction of our facilities, which legitimizes our efforts and provides direction for future campus growth. These principles have been incorporated into our current academic expansion project, and will be further established with additional design innovations, such as earth tubes at the campus' newest build, the Environmental Science and Chemistry Building (ESCB).

We're making significant progress by altering how we design, build, operate and maintain our facilities to ensure that we efficiently use natural resources. These projects help the campus conserve energy, reduce the use of raw materials and save money. Over time, more members of our community will live, work and learn in increasingly efficient buildings while enjoying a higher standard of indoor environmental quality.

Performance standards/goals

Because swimming pools of this nature generally have significant utility consumption rates, we were particularly interested in targeting optimized energy performance, which was achieved through use of:

  • Geothermal energy through a ground source heat pump (GSHP) field located under the north parking lot of the facility, comprised of 100 geothermal boreholes, extending 600 feet deep each.
  • Building envelope materials that combat high humidity and contribute to overall building envelope and energy performance.
  • Unique air handling units that prevent condensation and reduce the energy demand required to heat the pools.

Through a comprehensive waste management plan, PCL ensured that 95 per cent of construction site waste from the project was diverted from landfill.

Energy and water savings

The facility has been designed and built to optimize energy performance, achieving a 40 per cent reduction in design energy cost over the Model National Energy Code for Buildings (MNECB) reference building. The project achieves a 37 per cent water use reduction over baseline fixture performance requirements and 100 per cent of the facility's property irrigation demand is met using non-potable rainwater harvested by underground cisterns buried in various locations.

Positive health impacts

The building provides a brighter and healthier indoor environment for the community, as well as reduced utility cost and maintenance burden that will allow the facility to remain this way long into the future.

Some of the ways this is accomplished include:

  • LED lighting that is more efficient and less harsh.
  • Effective, efficient and environmentally friendly pool air and water treatment systems.
  • Effective use of sightlines and visibility to the vast open spaces, and to the street.
  • Synergized offering of services from fitness, to high performance, to therapeutics.

Measurement and verification systems, advanced building automation controls and energy management systems have been incorporated into the building so the owner can actively monitor its performance, and respond dynamically to changing operational needs.

A first for the University of Toronto

This is the first new building at the University of Toronto to achieve LEED Gold. Constructed on time and on budget, the project was completed following an aggressive 24-month schedule, enabling the facility to begin operations and complete testing events one year prior to the Games.

Recently, PCL was awarded the 2015 Ontario General Contractors Association award for Best Project Built in Ontario, as well as the Best of the Best Large Project Achievement Award from the Toronto Construction Association.

We are extremely proud of this facility, a winner by international standards, as well as the opportunity to provide a showcase for leading edge environmental design in this jointly-owned City and University facility. As the Americas converge at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre for the 2015 Pan Am & Parapan American Games this summer, many of the building innovations will be featured so that other nations can learn about sustainable design.

Project Team

Project Owner Infrastructure Ontario
Project Sponsors City of Toronto, University of Toronto Scarborough, Federal Government (with stewardship by PAN AM 2015).
Developer & Design-Builder PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
Architect NORR Ltd./Counsilman-Hunsaker
LEED Consultant Halsall Associates
Mechanical & Electrical Consultant Smith + Andersen
Structural Engineer Halsall Associates
Landscape Architect (if applicable) Janet Rosenberg + Associates
Major Subtrades Plan Electric, Urban Mechanical, International Pool Constructors
Commissioning Authority Halsall