Greenpeace Canada has a great new enviro headquarters!

Page - July 29, 2009
Thanks to the Steelworkers Toronto Area Council (the owners of 33 Cecil Street), Greenpeace Canada has found a new home that not only reduces overhead costs but also allows us to work in a great, green space.

Greenpeace climbers hang welcome banner for the open house

This office is one of four that Greenpeace operates in Canada (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Edmonton) and is our national headquarters. Following years of steady growth we outgrew our former location and partnering with Steel on this project seemed like a sensible approach to our new housing needs.

Currently owned by the Steelworkers Toronto Area Council, 33 Cecil Street was built in the 1930's and has been a hub for progressive change in Ontario for many years.  It has been home to the International Ladies Garment Workers Union - serving the once robust textile industry on Spadina - the Ontario Federation of Labour's Human Rights office, the ONDP headquarters, Steelworkers offices, meeting space for countless community organizations and events as well as the innovative non-profit dental clinic that continues to provide quality, affordable dental care to workers.   

Greenpeace is proud to be part of this progressive tradition.

Official ribbon cutting at the open house (l. to r, Paul Thompson - Greenpeace, Ken Neumann - National Director, United Steelworkers (USW), Joe Pantalone - Toronto Deputy Mayor, Carolyn Egan - President, Steelworkers Toronto Area Council, Bruce Cox - Greenpeace Executive Director, Alex Cheeseman - Greenpeace.

Described below are some of the green improvements we have made in our new building.  There is more to be done so please consider purchasing an engraved brick for the urban garden and be a part of our creative, green space for progressive change! Buy an engraved patio stone now.

Geothermal system. Our new building is heated and cooled by the earth's energy. It has a closed-loop vertical geothermal system, provided by Groundheat Systems International at a discounted rate. This project was financed in partnership with the Steelworkers Toronto Area Council. The system has 16 pipes which are full of fluid, 450 feet deep into the ground.  They draw energy in the form of cooling and/or heating from the earth and transfer it into the building. This will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by many tons each year making for cleaner air and mitigating against global warming.

Fifteen separate heat pumps and thermostats in the office allow staff to control the heating and cooling of their work environment. This saves energy as well as provides greater comfort for staff.

Environmental benefits aside, the building will be heated and cooled almost free of charge. The system, which should last about 50 years, will pay for itself over 15 years by significantly reduced heating and cooling costs.

Other Energy Efficiencies. To reduce energy costs, we've installed high energy efficient windows (fibre glass frames, no PVC), an energy efficient lighting system (T8 fluorescents) and an energy recovery ventilator unit. Many of the lights in the common areas are on motion detectors that automatically turn off if no one is in the area. We also have highly energy efficient, formaldehyde-free, closed cell polyurethane insulation called 'Walltite Eco', generously donated by BASF Canada and with the installation donated by Insta-Installation. We even replaced our old bulky CRT (cathode ray tube) desktop computer screens with energy efficient flat LCD screens.  Our thanks to both BASF Canada and Insta-Installation for these gifts-in-kind.

For more information about Walltite, visit: and search for insulation.


Front lobby featuring FSC flooring and Great Bear Rainforest mural

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified flooring. The boardroom and front entrance has FSC certified flooring. That means the wood is harvested from sustainably managed forests. For more information on FSC certified wood and other products, please visit:

Reduce: In the planning stages of the project we were careful to utilize as much of the existing structure as possible so as to minimize resources consumed. We maintained walls wherever possible and repaired rather than ripped down areas in need of work.

Instead of purchasing new flooring we choose to restore the retro-look terrazzo flooring to its former glory. This first required the professional removal of aging asbestos based floor tiles.

Re-use: We pulled up the Marmoleum flooring from our old office, brought it along with us to Cecil Street and installed it on the second floor in the front offices. Marmoleum is a natural product made from linseed oil, woodflour, pine rosin, jute and limestone and is durable, comfortable and available in many colours and forms.  The Marmoleum tiles click into place, are easy to install yourself, offer many combinations and are easily moveable.

Of course, we also reused the furniture from our old office. To supply our office expansion, we purchased reconditioned phone handsets and 22 used desks.

Bike-friendly, transit-friendly workplace. A lot of Greenpeace staff ride bikes to work. To encourage bike-riding, we've made sure the building has bike racks. We've also installed showers with low-flow showerheads to encourage cycling on hot summer days. And, for those who don't cycle, we've made sure our new headquarters is easily accessible by public transportation.

Our special thanks to Levitt Goodman Architects and Boszko and Verity, Contractors who turned ideas into realities.

The garden. Students from the Humber Horticulture Program were asked to create garden designs that would take in account ecological principles, functional needs, and budget. We were very impressed with the high caliber of the designs we received from the students and would like to thank them and the Humber Horticulture Program faculty for their participation in this project.  Fleisher Ridout Partnership Inc. have used the best features from the students work to develop garden plan that will utilize native plants, beautify the neighbourhood, attract butterflies, help filter our air and create plenty of bicycle parking.

Tanya Olsen, Humber College Instructor (1st left), Jackie Gallagher, Greenpeace (2nd left) with the Humber horticultural design students and their top three designs for the Greenpeace garden.

Integrated into the plan are beautiful engraved patio stones recognizing individual donors who have helped make 33 Cecil Street a climate friendly, environmentally sustainable work place for progressive change. There is still room for your stone in the Greenpeace Garden.