Cadillac Fairview: Developing a culture of sustainability - Retail Council of Canada
Canadian Retailer Magazine | Sustainability

Cadillac Fairview: Developing a culture of sustainability

July 4, 2019

As one of Canada’s largest commercial real estate developers, Cadillac Fairview recognizes the importance of operating responsibly for the good of tomorrow


Over the past several decades, as a result of a plethora of research and scientific testing and review, more is understood today about the ways humans are affecting the planet than ever before. During this time, government, corporations and civilians at large have started to pay more attention to sustainability efforts, developing and insti­tuting changes in our behavior and the way we conduct business to lessen our collective footprint to preserve our ecosystem and reverse some of the negative impacts our actions have caused to the planet.

However, sustainability from a business point-of-view means a who­le lot more than simply reducing our impact on the environment. It also involves social engagement and taking care of the communities that are being served, supporting and enabling employees in their efforts to create positive change, and ensuring operational efficiency and excellence for continued financial growth. All of these things combined add up to responsibility and accountability for businesses embarking on the journey and a path toward a better tomorrow.

For Cadillac Fairview, one of Canada’s largest commercial real esta­te developers with properties located across the country, the afore­mentioned responsibilities exponentially grow. Canadian Retailer re­cently sat down with Karen Jalon, Senior Director, Sustainability and Energy Management, Cadillac Fairview, to discuss the developer’s approach to corporate sustainability, some of the company’s initia­tives and how it’s made sure to build sustainability firmly into its business strategy and culture.

Canadian Retailer: What’s Cadillac Fairview’s philosophy when it comes to operating respon­sibly and how does the company’s philosophical approach influence the decisions it makes?

Karen Jalon: As one of the largest developers of real estate in North America, we recognize the im­pact that we have on the environment. As a result, we’re active in our approach in incorporating inno­vative and sustainable practices into all aspects of our business strategy. The world is in the midst of a global environmental crisis and Cadillac Fairview is committed to doing the right thing for our busi­ness, people and the planet. We’ve woven sustaina­bility into the fabric of our organizational culture and integrated sustainability into how we conduct business from operations and development to community building. From a business perspective, our role is to drive operational excellence, which includes efficiencies and occupant experience. Sustainability is a great way to meet those needs—it gives our clients a meaningful ex­perience while aligning with their values.

CR: What’s Cadillac Fairview’s Green at Work program and how does it help support the company’s sustainability initiatives?

KJ: Green at Work® (GAW) is our national environmental sustainability program, fo­cusing on the integration of sustainability into building operations and maintenance. We proudly launched this innovative pro­gram early on in 2008 before mature stan­dards were put in place for commercial buildings. We understood our business drivers and made our own proprietary program to address our concerns. We were early in defining this space—we showed leadership and set ambitious targets. We are continually learning and constantly evaluating our successes and shortfalls in order to improve on our targets.

Through this industry-leading program, we are looking at emerging trends and new technologies to improve our operations, and we’re dedicated to achieving industry certificati­ons to outwardly show our commitment. We’ve embedded the program into our work culture and integrated dedicated ‘green teams’ in each of our properties who act as sustainability champions.

Since the program’s inception, we have achieved a 39 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a total savings of $45 million in energy and wa­ter costs. The program integrates incentives at va­rious levels throughout CF to engage all members in the process of implementing projects. These projects aim to improve performance in the five “pillars” of environmental impact: energy, waste management, environmental protection, respon­sible procurement and stakeholder collaboration. The GAW program supports CF’s overarching sustainability initiatives in creating more en­vironmentally friendly spaces to continue buil­ding and transforming communities.

CR: When Cadillac Fairview works with part­ners to design and develop the construction of its properties, what kind of things are consi­dered from a sustainability perspective?

KJ: At CF, our core business is designing, buil­ding and operating premium commercial pro­perties; our heritage is one of seeing growth and opportunity in distinctive urban spaces. We pride ourselves on our ability to build and transform communities in a responsible way.

All phases of our land development process support economic development, social stability, and community development before we can move forward with building the property. At each phase, sustainability aspects must be considered before transitioning to the next phase. These include the health and safety of stakeholders, uti­lity use and waste output, as well using the latest technology, equipment and building materials to increase resource efficiency while fostering innovation. As we continue to invest in the de­velopment of our properties, our team evaluates Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) matters through risk assessment and mitigation before completing a transaction.

CR: How does the corporate culture at Cadillac Fairview reflect the values of corporate re­sponsibility and sustainability? And, how im­portant is it to develop and maintain a culture of sustainability and responsibility?

KJ: At CF, we prioritize corporate responsibility throughout the organization and have embed­ded sustainability into our corporate culture and business strategy; there are clear business drivers and community values through these in­itiatives. By focusing on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues, we align oursel­ves with the values of our people, our clients and building occupants. Our goal is to achieve operational excellence with our premiere assets to attract top talent and support the financial sustainability and success of our clients.

We have engrained sustainable thinking throughout our organization through our com­pany values and purpose. While executives steer our ESG strategy, our “Green Teams” demonstra­te leadership as program champions. It’s impor­tant to engage every level of staff within the orga­nization to ensure sustainability is top of mind. We apply critical thinking to identify opportuni­ties, driving us to continually improve and look at emerging opportunities and new technologies in efforts to change our behaviour and to strive to achieve what’s best for our communities, our business and the environment we all share.

For more information about Cadillac Fairview and its sustainability efforts and initiatives, visit

Breaking new ground on sustainability

Cadillac Fairview’s a leader when it comes to corporate responsibility and sustainable practices. Below are some exciting examples of sustainable design that the company has recently developed.

In February 2019, CF announced a $70-million com­mitment in the Kitchener-Waterloo region through the development of its ambitious CF Grand Market District project, which will see CF Fairview Park transformed by moving it away from a traditionally enclosed retail mall to a mixed-use model. As part of this exciting project, more than 1,500 solar pan­els will be installed on top of the former Sears build­ing to offset electricity consumed at the property.

New Pedestrian Bridge at CF TorontoEaton Centre

In 2017, CF Toronto Eaton Centre replaced its aging pedestrian bridge connecting the centre with the Hudson’s Bay Company building over Queen Street with a new state of the art bridge. Impressively, 98 per cent of the old bridge materials were recycled.

Geo-Exchange Retrofit in Vancouver at777 Dunsmuir

In 2014, CF partnered with Vancouver-based Fenix Energy to undertake Canada’s first geo-exchange retrofit of an occupied, mixed-use high-rise com­plex in a downtown area. The project included the drilling of 30 boreholes 400 feet into the earth at 777 Dunsmuir through the property’s parkade. By harvesting the building’s rejected heat and storing it underground until it is needed, geo-exchange offers a solution for reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions associated with trad­itional heating and cooling.

Philanthropy at Cadillac Fairview

Cadillac Fairview’s sustainability initiatives include prioritizing the well-being of its employees and surrounding commun­ities. This year, the company donated $1.6 million to philan­thropic initiatives.

Community-inspired events like the CF Dog Park on Blue Monday allows the company to create inclusive experiences to celebrate the health and well-being of its clients and guests. To support the CF Dog Park initiative, a donation was made to the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Pet Therapy pro­gram. As well, CF recently expanded its commitment to youth philanthropy with a $600,000 investment towards young Canadians. This commitment included a $25,000 donation for Propel, a youth mental health program at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, along with many others.

“We empower our employees to get involved in our various initiatives, as sustainability is an import­ant goal to our leadership team,” says Jalon. “Our organization is founded on developing and operat­ing our properties in collaboration with community members, innovating to reduce our environmental footprint and holding ourselves accountable for the decisions we make.”