The creators of 2nd Lot: Matthew Tokarik, left, and Matt Carlsson.

Photo courtesy Matthew Tokarik

Turning laws into a business prospect

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By Jacob Dubé

A new Ryerson startup takes advantage of a recent Toronto bylaw by creating a business plan to improve energy efficiency.

The Toronto Green Standards bylaw dictates that every building larger than 2,000 square metres be assessed for its energy performance in order to create a business plan that helps buildings improve their energy efficiency.

2nd Lot assesses small to medium sized buildings and consults on energy conserving methods to be implemented in the building process. The startup makes a 3D model of the building and inputs all of the information on its systems, occupancy and building class to predict its energy use.

Matthew Tokarik and Matt Carlsson co-founded the business and set up in the Centre for Urban Energy (CUE) at Ryerson.

The CUE is an academic-industry partnership that develops solutions to urban energy challenges and provides research, education and innovation to new green startups.

Until the creation of this bylaw, only big buildings were required to follow this rule.

“There’s been this new market segment that’s opened up because of this requirement in the city, so that’s how we found our way in to this specific niche within the industry,” Tokarik said. “The green building industry is growing and it’s fairly large. Our niche within it is targeting the smaller and medium buildings that now require this energy assessment.”

The founders were part of the iCUE, an incubator for new startups that helps them grow from an idea to the marketplace.

Dan McGillivray, the director of the CUE, taught them business skills needed to be successful in the industry.

“[2nd Lot] can undercut the competition since they’re a small business and they don’t have the large costs for doing their work, [so] they can stay competitive by doing that,” McGillivray said. “That makes them a little special, and you’re always looking for the secret sauce in the company.”

The iCUE takes people from engineering and architecture backgrounds, mixes them all up and teaches this very specialized focus set of skills that deals with buildings, sustainability and energy.

“Our vision for the centre is to be interesting enough that we want to be visited by others. I think Ryerson’s making noise. We want to be a world-class centre. You’re not world-class unless the rest of the world thinks you’re world-class,” McGillivray said.

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