Building a Better Tomorrow

Designing Out Waste

Robert Raynor works with project teams who salvage, sort, and reuse deconstructed materials from old buildings. These materials are then put towards the development of new infrastructure.  

Raynor determines the total embodied carbon of every element of the project: materials, equipment, transportation, and other facets. He implements sustainable strategies to minimize carbon emissions. Through his work, reusing materials, Raynor is a leader in the circular economy.  

“One of the greatest challenges of our generation is the need to build more while polluting less. Meaningfully achieving anywhere close to ‘net-zero’ requires a pointed and coordinated collective effort,” he says. 

With multiple projects completed and several in development, he is prioritizing circularity. Sustainability is at the core of his mission. 

Raynor emphasizes the dire need for action on the climate crisis. To him, the development industry needs to pivot towards a more circular model. He is one of many voices stressing this necessity. Raynor believes if we continue our current wasteful economic blueprint, the world will face catastrophic consequences. His involvement at TAS is his way of preserving the natural world.  

2 Tecumseth Street in downtown Toronto is an active TAS project Raynor is working on. The lot contains a decommissioned abattoir and a century-old garbage incinerator. The space is being renewed to create a scenic and natural community hub.  

For Raynor, 2 Tecumseth is just the start of what is needed to solve the climate crisis. It is where this story begins. 

From Trails to Trailblazer

Robert Raynor has a lifelong passion for the outdoors; hiking, biking, swimming, and everything else nature offers. As a child, he often did these activities with his father.  

He’s also maintained an interest in infrastructure.  

To Raynor, these two ideas are not mutually exclusive. He doesn’t like the development industry’s habit of creating environmental pollution. Raynor believes there is exciting potential for positive change within this sector. And that’s what he set out to accomplish. 

Raynor received his master's degree in architecture from the University of Toronto earlier this year. His professor, Kelly Doran, is a mentor to him. For his class, he did a thesis project on measuring the embodied carbon of buildings. This experience gave him tangible insight on how to examine a building’s carbon output. He researched the potential for sustainable cities that could be created on farm fields. He started to think freely about ways we could revolutionize infrastructure.  

The development firm, TAS, recognized Raynor’s passion. He currently works at the company as the Net-Zero Coordinator – working to ensure green development and functionality for infrastructure. He plays a pivotal role in making sure project teams are reusing old, deconstructed materials for new buildings. TAS's goal is to have a net-zero carbon portfolio by 2045. 

Raynor says we are visitors on this planet. Ensuring that we make it livable for future generations is his gift to humanity. Our actions have consequences, and he says we must keep a clean social conscience. 

It’s a mixture of his creativity and compassion that makes Robert Raynor a trailblazer in the circular economy. 

Trash to Treasure

Buildings of the future are rising from yesterday’s rubble at TAS’s redevelopment site at 2 Tecumseth St. in Toronto. TAS is reusing about 6000 tons of salvaged materials from an abattoir last used almost 10 years ago. TAS’s circular economy construction is precedent-setting in Toronto's development sector. Most development companies destroy what was on the site and replace it with something new. If preserved, some buildings are designated as heritage sites. 

TAS’s approach to circularity involves more than just construction. One example is how they are supporting environmental startup Just Be Woodsy. Just Be Woodsy mills and kiln-dries salvaged trees, transforming them into functional furniture and objects. According to TAS, Just Be Woodsy has salvaged the equivalent of one million kilograms of carbon dioxide. They became tenants at Tecumseth before construction started, paying TAS rent in wood. Robert Jarvis of Just Be Woodsy says his partnership with TAS is “serendipitous.” 

Nigel Etherington – a consultant on sustainable business – says our “take, make and waste economy” is depleting the environment. He says humans are wasteful of the precious resources the planet provides. This eco-friendly consultant explains that the circular economy is a way to stop this cycle.  

Nigel Etherington, Founding Principal of Planet & Company Inc.

From Seneca to Artevelde

Let’s head to Belgium to see how local initiatives, an ocean apart, are contributing to a global circular economy by designing out waste, repurposing or regenerating.

Sustainability Meets Inclusivity

Recyclage Gantoise is a project led by Ghent-based VZW Mozaïek. They have a special goal: to sustain a circular value chain for hospitals in the city.  

The non-profit receives garments from hospitals and carefully removes the sticker materials. After the items are made ready for recycling, they are processed into polymer granules. This material is used to create car dashboards. 

The project is addressing the climate crisis – but also the needs of vulnerable people. Not everyone fits into the standard labour market in our society. Through Recyclage Gantoise, meaningful opportunities are created for people with various disabilities and challenges. 

It started out small. Led by Karen Vansteenwegen and her team, it has grown into a full-fledged day program within their centre.  

Research has been conducted into other materials where hospitals can help in the recycling process. The organisation has received subsidies that will allow them to do even more additional research.  

This circular initiative has gained formal recognition. It received the Circuit Circulair award from the City of Ghent. VZW Mozaïek is committed to sustainable development for climate and for society. 

Embracing Green

As a nature lover, Karen Vansteenwegen has always surrounded herself with green. She’s done this not only in her home, but also in her work life. At Mozaïek, Vansteenwegen has found a way to promote environmental awareness in her workspace. She hopes to motivate others to fight against the climate crisis.  

She had to take a couple of restrictions into consideration. Those with disabilities sometimes aren’t allowed to operate heavy machinery. The task needed to be more suitable for those with challenges. Karen set out to find an accommodative solution. 

While looking for a recycling project, Karen was inspired by a care group in her hometown. The group already repurposed surgical materials. Only one task matched all the criteria: the low-risk job of pulling stickers off surgical garments. A small change with a big result. When the stickers are removed, the items may be repurposed.  

Karen has received much praise for her contributions against medical waste. Her award, the ‘Circuit Circulair’ prize, was founded by the City of Ghent to bring more awareness to recycling projects. Karen was awarded first place because she was able to connect social and ecological sustainability. She has received governmental funding to expand and start up more recycling projects in the future. 

Meet the Team

Raissa Santos

Seneca Polytechnic
Producer: Designing Out Waste

Joey Seppelt

Seneca Polytechnic
Producer: From Trails to Trailblazer

Noah Gravel

Seneca Polytechnic
Producer: From Trails to Trailblazer

Perry Lupyrypa

Seneca Polytechnic
Producer: Trash to Treasure

Bibian Post

Artevelde University
Producer: Embracing Green & Sustainability Meets Inclusivity

Kathlyn Brans

Artevelde University
Producer: Embracing Green & Sustainability Meets Inclusivity

Zoë Sagon

Artevelde University
Producer: Embracing Green & Sustainability Meets Inclusivity

Lowie Vandyck

Artevelde University
Producer: Embracing Green & Sustainability Meets Inclusivity

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