windmill line co-op

Windmill Line | Toronto

See The Collaboration


Windmill Line Co-Op

Toronto, Ontario

Project Consultant:  Morrison Hershfield
Glazing Subcontractor: Universal Aluminum


The retrofit of the Windmill Line Co-operative building in the heart of Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market neighborhood involved the occupied replacement of the 1970s-era windows that had gone beyond their useful life and were showing signs of water infiltration and poor thermal performance. The goal of the project was to give the tenants of the 206 mixed-income apartments high performance windows to allow a more comfortable living environment, reduce operating costs for the co-op and refresh the exterior appearance of the building.

The building, under the management and oversight of its tenants, is run democratically with ambitions geared towards the best interest of its residents. A part of those ambitions are environmental sustainability goals that support the co-op to reduce their environmental footprint and help manage operating expenses.

With a high-thermal goal in mind to help the co-op lower operating expenses and meet their sustainability goals, Morrison Hershfield once again selected Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope to supply high performance 1200 Arctic Fixed Windows and the 1250 Arctic sliders with triple pane for the project. These were selected for their thermal performance as well as their ability to accommodate the windows for the units and the penthouse. This included by-passable locking mechanisms to allow provisions for air conditioning units in the windows since the building does not have a central system, common in older buildings in cooler climates like Toronto.

“The Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope solutions are great products. We’ve worked with them many times in the past and are happy with how they install and their performance,” said Robert Maggiacomo, Project Manager with Universal Aluminum who installed the windows on the project. “On projects like this, where we are replacing windows with residents in place, we try to move as quickly as possible for minimal disruption to tenants so having a collaborative partner like OBE is important for us to be successful,” continued Maggiacomo.

The planning phase of window replacement projects like the one at Windmill is important for many reasons. For one, to ensure that the valuable funds the co-op is committing to capital expenditures and improvements will deliver value to residents. Specifying and installing high performance products that will deliver long-term benefits in performance and cost reduction are crucial. OBE was present for the on-site field testing to ensure the selected products would perform as expected once installed into the over 200 windows in the building. This was done with a mock-up up before the project and several times throughout the year-long project to ensure product quality and consistency.

“We needed to ensure compression on the glass with temporary stops, allow it to cure, then go back in to re-install the stops,” said Maggiacomo. “Having a contractor that knows the process and a manufacturer like OBE that can provide a quality product and step in with support when needed is critical. Our OBE rep was incredibly responsive and helpful throughout the entire process, quickly addressing any issues we had.”

“We provided a detailed package on the selected window units with performance data, independent test reports, dimensions and drawings so the team could adequately model the entire building envelope and calculate the payback and energy savings for the co-op board,” said Pete Isaak, Architectural Rep with OBE.

This data also supports the co-op board in pursuing rebates and available government funding by demonstrating how they are allocating capital funds for the improvement of the building and benefit of residents. The 1250 Arctic Slider for example exceeds industry standards using an enhanced polyamide thermal-break that allows for an economical split-finish to provide maximum performance, value, and durability.

The next step in planning was sizing of the windows. Morrison Hershfield required brick-to-brick installation in order to meet performance objectives and maintain the aesthetic of the 1970’s era building. This required Universal Aluminum to measure every opening from the interior of the building due to the difference in sizing between interior and exterior.

“In order to meet the planning and construction schedule, we had to move quickly on material orders with a close approximation on the size of the windows while we measured all the openings to have our final window dimensions,” said Maggiacomo. “Our OBE Project Manager was very supportive and worked with us to release the project forward and start cutting material while we completed the site survey and finalized the tolerances on our dimensions.”

“In retrofit construction projects, especially where timelines are tight and residents are in their units, we have to ensure our lead times are fast and reliable,” said David Kwan, Project Manager for OBE. “We worked with Universal Aluminum to release the job into production while they finalized dimensions so we could ensure lead times were met according to the detailed release schedule we created, allowing products to be fulfilled as installation progressed.”

The triple glazed 1250 Arctic Sliders also required different coatings on different surfaces, depending on the elevation of each window, which had to be tracked and staged through production to ensure seamless delivery during installation. These were completed and released in priority order as they were required on the jobsite.

While retrofit projects in multifamily construction require a precise focus on the timeline and the budget to ensure minimal disruption and maximum value to tenants, they also directly and immediately impact residents. According to Natural Resources Canada, windows and doors account for up to 25 percent of total home heat loss. Energy-efficient windows that are properly sealed and leverage high performance thermal technology with insulating glass units make a tremendous difference in comfort as well as operating expenses. Canadian Architect notes that ‘old windows are one of the most significant issues with high energy bills.’

It is no surprise that firms like Morrison Hershfield continue to look at this as an opportunity to make a meaningful impact for their condo clients, helping them improve the performance of their buildings, invest their funds where it matters and save the board and residents money. Having worked with OBE on 5 projects over the last 5 years, and counting, Morrison Hershfield knows that service, quality, and attention to detail translates to successful retrofit projects and happy tenants.

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