Planet Traveller: growing the green message


The project

Planet Traveller will be a 24-room hostel/hotel for young people.
Extensive renovations are under way to turn the century-old structure
in downtown Toronto into a cutting-edge “green” building by using
technology that reduces the usual greenhouse gas emissions by about 80
per cent. Operating costs for energy — laundry, hot water, heating and
cooling — are also expected to be about 70 to 80 per cent less compared
to a regular hotel.

A key component, about 75 per cent, of that achievable reduction
will come from Geothermal technology, to be used for heating and air
conditioning. Geothermal essentially uses the ground beneath the
building as a heat source. A heat pump does all the work, like a
refrigerator in reverse. Other planned “green” technologies include LED
lighting, good insulation and ventilation, solar thermal on the roof
and a powerpipe (heat exhanger — it captures the heat in hot water as
it comes down the shower drains).

The partners: Tom Rand and Anthony Aarts

Tom Rand: Project Manager for Planet Traveller

Tom Rand is a high-tech software entrepreneur and engineer. He is
the director of VCi Green Funds, a private venture fund Rand started in
2005, dedicated to providing angel and venture capital to early stage
companies developing technologies that reduce energy emissions. One of
his first projects is Planet Traveler, Rand’s way of becoming engaged
in the war against climate change. He describes it as both an
investment and a learning experience. As a businessman and an
environmentalist, Rand wants to blaze a trail for the greater adoption
of Geothermal technology by the public and developers. Rand has put his
money where his mouth is, investing in Geothermal through VCi Green
Funds. He is also a member of its Board of Directors. Rand says he’s
driven by a desire to understand the real estate sector by getting his
hands dirty and to learn more about how energy use can be reduced in
the operation of a building.

Anthony Aarts: General Contractor for Planet Traveller

Anthony Aarts is a Toronto real estate developer, mainly around the
Kensington Market area, who is also working on his MBA. Aarts is a
50/50 partner with Tom Rand for the building and renovation, however,
Aarts owns 100 per cent of the planned business. Once the project is
complete, Aarts will lease the building from a holding company that he
shares with Rand and be the one running Planet Traveller as a
hostel/hotel. Currently, Aarts deals with the day-to-day problems in
construction such as juggling timetables with contractors, on-site
supervision and keeping the project on budget.


The total projected investment is approximately $2.4- to $3-million.
So far, the amount invested is $1.5-million and renovations have just
begun (the building cost over $1-million). Rand expects his half of the
investment to reach $1.5-million.

The additional cost of making the building “green” is only $150,000
to $200,000 — about 10 to 20 per cent of the total budget. The cost of
the Geothermal is about $60,000.

Read the full article on the Globe&