Monday, November 04, 2013

Ye Old Toronto Brick Works

Today, I am here to share with you some further proof of the sheer weirdness that is Arts kids:

We had a trip into the city today! To the old Evergreen Brick Works (shown above). I'm still trying to warm up my bones after wandering around some big, old warehouses but believe it or not, A LOT of brides come here for wedding shoots and people have big fancy corporate parties here too! Gorgeous! (but freezing c-c-cold!!)

Being a sentimental history junkie AND a beauty-seeking fiend, I was beyond impressed with this place! Like, really, really impressed.

But it is far from being just a pretty face or a pretty story. The Don Valley Brick Works (a.k.a. Evergreen Brick Works) are (is?) also the very picture of sustainability! Who knew? Really, who? Because I didn't even know this place existed, let alone contained almost thirty acres of nature-preserving land. All smack-dab, right in the middle of the big bad city! Like I said, impressive!

Starting right from the outside, a lot of the original structures have been kept standing but just updated to be more efficient (energy-wise). Our tour guide pointed out that the oldest buildings started from the left and got progressively newer travelling out to the right.

Also outside, was a wealth of educational areas for the community. From these, the ones I liked best were the sustainable playground for children (to teach them about getting down and dirty with the Earth) and the gigantic parkland where the quarry used to be. 

What really stood out to me was the fact that the organization running the attraction makes a point of maintaining the three distinct, natural ecosystems featured on the land.

 Above: Forest Ecosystem

Above: Meadow Ecosystem

Above: Wetland Ecosystem

Venturing inside, the sheer character of the building is astounding! I just loved, loved, LOVED it (have I mentioned that?)

Above: The gorgeous Welcome Centre

Above: The undeniably cool brick-making machine used originally in the factory.

Above: A cistern (one of many) and pipes that collect rainwater from the rooftop!

Here are just some of the ways in which Evergreen Brick Works runs an efficient building:

-The cisterns collect and store water (from rain and snow) off the roof to provide a significant amount of water for watering plants (something found in abundance in the area) and flushing toilets. I love that! The biggest obstacle, though, was that the cisterns had to be located above ground (because of contamination issues in the earth that date back to the quarry days) and that renders the water frozen and useless during the cold months. Oh well, that's still a lot of water being saved!

-The windows, not that there were too many (just some well-placed ones to keep the areas well-lit), contain heat mirrors (a film) to keep temperatures stable within the building. Also, a simple but often-overlooked step, the company sends out emails to all workers to let them know what days are window-opening days so that no one has windows open when the heat or air conditioning is on. Such a simple concept but completely ignored in all the workplaces and schools I've been to!

-The insulation in the buildings is so amazing that the tour guide declared conventional architecture as being a t-shirt while the Brick Works is a parka. That's sounds so snug and warm right now!

-When the lights are at fifty-percent (often), they are actually at fifty-percent. Meaning, not only is the light received at fifty percent, so is the energy expended.

And really, the list goes on and on. After all, Evergreen Brick Works is planning on getting LEED certified! (Remember my last post? Well, I did say "something like LEED is better than nothing like LEED"! Besides, Evergreen just seems like one of those feel-good, do-good companies and I love that!)

All in all, this place is a must-visit! There is just SO MUCH to see there and I haven't even begun to cover it. Needless to say, I plan on revisiting that place again and again in the future. It's THAT brilliant!

And to end this post on a pretty note, here are some pictures of my favourite area of the Brick Works!

Above: The old kilns and brick-storage (with preserved graffiti!)

 Above: A closed kiln (well, they are all closed now...)
Above: More gorgeous graffiti!!!


All photos from this post were taken by me and my numb fingers!

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