Originally published in STIR®
Toronto's Sustainability Studio brings eco-friendly design resources together under one roof.

Going green is all about the greater good, but the spark that ignited a landmark project in Canada was a desire for more personal integrity.

"The impetus was a selfish one," says Anthony Watanabe, president and CEO of the Innovolve Group, a sustainability consultancy in Toronto. "We were driven out of frustration that we didn't have an office that reflected our values. We'd talk about health and sustainability, then go back to our very brown office."

So after an extensive search, Innovolve found a new downtown building that met its criteria, then commissioned HOK Architects, Toronto, to design a stylish and sustainable office environment.

Keeping it green presented both a responsibility and an opportunity, Watanabe says. Innovolve and HOK made sure to include systems and products that conserve energy and water and ensure indoor air quality. But they also took it a step further and incorporated some cutting-edge green design elements, such as demountable interior walls that allow low-impact space reconfiguration, and recycled-content tiles that hang from the ceiling, absorbing sound without blocking the abundant natural light.

Innovolve recruited like-minded partners to collaborate on the project and take space in the mixed-use building. "The office was so fantastic we couldn't keep it to ourselves; we had to share," Watanabe says. The result: Sustainability Studio, a community of organizations with a passion for bringing green into the mainstream.

Innovolve chose Sherwin-Williams to be its exclusive paint partner. "Sherwin-Williams had the most green products of all the companies we considered," Watanabe says. "That's one measure of innovation and commitment. That's leadership."

And green leadership is a priority at the Studio, where activities include informal monthly "Idea Jams," a "Change Lab" to support green knowledge development, and sustainability mentorships to help startup companies go green. The Studio, which opened in May, is already generating buzz in the local design community, says Laurey Fawcett, Sherwin-Williams architectural account executive. "Architects are talking about it. There's a lot of excitement."

Innovolve's desire for a greener headquarters ultimately created a vibrant Toronto hub for sustainable design. "It has grown into something far beyond ourselves," Watanabe says.

Simply Modern

Sustainability Studio is housed in a sleek, contemporary building with floor-to-ceiling glass on three sides. That clean, modern structure helped inspire the interior's minimalist color palette. The walls are painted Simple White (SW 7021) with Sherwin-Williams Harmony® Interior Latex, which has zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Light French Gray (SW 0055) is used as an accent. Trim and molding are painted with Sherwin-Williams Duration Home®, chosen for its low-VOC formulation and superior washability. Orange seating adds punch to the palette.