Net Impact Group Visits Toronto

by Dana Palumbo

Over Labor Day weekend, members of Duquesne University’s Net Impact group traveled to Toronto, Canada. Toronto is considered one of the world’s most sustainable cities; in 2018, Toronto ranked 30th out of 100 in Sustainable City Index (comparatively, Pittsburgh ranked 60th). The purpose of this trip was for members to experience first-hand how Toronto is integrating sustainability into its iconic locations:

CN Tower

The CN Tower is a must-see for anyone visiting Toronto. Defining Toronto’s skyline, the CN tower is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and the tallest free-standing structure in the Americas. The CN Tower is also a BOMA BEST® Certified Silver building and since 2006 has seen an 85% reduction in green house gas emissions. Net Impact members had the opportunity to explore two observation levels and walk across the famous glass floor. The group was the most impressed by the unparalleled views of the city and the tower’s energy-efficient windows. These windows contain Thermochromic film, which enables the glass to adjust its darkness based on sunlight and external temperature.

Distillery Historic District

The Distillery District is considered Canada’s premier arts, culture and entertainment destination. It is also a quintessential example of the successful revitalization of an industrial site. Net Impact members were particularly interested in visiting this site to study examples of best practices that could be referenced for future consulting projects. Toronto’s Distillery District contains over 30 Victorian buildings and is distinguished as a national historic site. Opened in 1861, the Distillery District was the site of one of the largest distilleries in the world. The site was abandoned in 1990, leaving a hole in the community. In 2001, the property was redeveloped and now boasts a variety of unique stores, galleries, cafes, and theaters. This was personally one of my favorite locations that Net Impact visited because it made me reconsider how abandoned industrial sites in Pittsburgh could be redesigned and reused for the benefit of the local community.

The students who had the opportunity to attend the Net Impact trip greatly benefitted from this immersive cultural and educational experience. Toronto provided excellent examples of successfully implemented integration of sustainable practices that the MBA cohort will be able to reference throughout the remainder of the program and throughout their careers.