Hotel Diaries A Story of a Green Hotel

5 news updates

My TED Talk: A Short Story about a Green Hotel

in November 2009

Check out my TED Talk:

It's about this green hotel I've built in Toronto - In less than 4 minutes I explain how we can lower global carbon emissions by a third, make money doing it and fix the economic mess. No kidding!

If you find it interesting ... please pass it on.

Going City-Wide with Geothermal

in August 2008

On Open Letter To Mayor David Miller

Topic: Geothermal Energy and City Laneways

Dear Mayor Miller,

Mayor Miller, City staff have handed you an opportunity to be the greenest Mayor in North America.

There is a once-decrepit building at 357 College Street that is being proudly transformed into Planet Traveller Hotel - the greenest hotel in North America. As part of that effort, we have formed a unique partnership with the City of Toronto. That partnership could be the start of start of something really big.

Here’s why. The laneway alongside the building is City property. Over the past 6 months we have been worked successfully with City staff to obtain approval for a pioneering project. We will bury geothermal pipes for heating and cooling – a technology known as geoexchange - in the public laneway.

As you know, geoexchange reduces energy use and carbon emissions by up to 70%, and lowers peak electrical load in the summer months. Geoexchange is, in our view, the lowest hanging fruit on the carbon-reducing tree.

The problem we faced was to find space to bury the pipes. A house can bury them in the back-yard, a new building can drill down beneath the foundation. We don’t have those options.

The solution was in the City granting permission to use the laneway, enabling us to act as our own utility. We will drill 10 420’ vertical holes alongside the building, put the geo pipes in, and pave it over. After we’re done, you won’t even know they’re there.

Here’s the kicker. Not only did Council approve our project, but they also recommended that the City set up guidelines for the use of these sorts of laneways for similar projects throughout the city. They recommended, in part, that:

“ the Deputy City Manager… and the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer, in consultation with a stakeholder group from the development and design community, develop guidelines for the use of public right of way for geo energy projects.”

Imagine that! The City enables a new kind of utility, opening up public laneways for geoexchange throughout the city! The ground beneath our feet can be used to heat and cool buildings all over the dense downtown urban core. There is no city that I know of that has acted in this in this visionary, pro-active way.

Mayor Miller, I encourage you to take the lead on the recommendation that has been approved by Council, and develop guidelines that would allow thousands of building owners to do what we have done.

The upside for Toronto? Lower carbon emissions, lower peak electrical demand and a claim to be at the forefront in the fight against climate change.

The upside for you? A legitimate claim to being the “greenest’ Mayor in North America.

Planet Traveller has taken the first step, and we proudly claim the City as our partner. The next step is yours.

Kind Regards,

Tom Rand & Anthony Aarts
Project Traveller Hotel Project
357 College Street, Toronto

Blog Series

in July 2008

Read the whole blog series here:

City of Toronto Comes Through! Laneways for Geothermal Use!

in July 2008

The City of Toronto has approved our use of the public laneway to access the 'ground beneath our feet', in order to install geothermal pipes. This is a bit of a breakthrough, since the application that got approved recommends that City Council look to finding a process by which all of the similar laneways throughout the city may also be used for this purpose. Essentially, the recommendation is that the network of laneways be opened up to a new form of utility: geothermal!
We have yet to sign off on the legal niceties, but the way forward for us seems clear - and the best new is: others may now follow. The public servants at City Hall were squarely behind this project, and I want to thank in particular Stephen Sudac (Senior Engineer) and Angie Antoniou (Director of Transportation Services).

There will be a number press releases relating to the co-operation between the City of Toronto, Planet Traveller Hostel and Clean Energy Developments (the geothermal provider).

The building reno's are well underway, and the heating/cooling system is being engineered/specified, in order to have a final quantification of the drilling required. More posts to come on the geothermal system itself, how solar thermal will integrate, and other renewable energy / energy efficiency options.

Financing is in place, building permits and the ...

in March 2008

Financing is in place, building permits and the right to add half a story have all been issued.

The challenge now is to approach the City of Toronto and ask for an Encroachment Agreement to allow us to bury the geothermal pipes in the laneway beside the building.

Read blog posts on the developments of this project here -