As one of Canada’s largest commercial real estate developers, Cadillac Fairview recognizes the importance of operating responsibly for the good of tomorrow
BY SEAN C. TARRY
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 www.cadillacfairview.com/en_CA/social-responsibility.html.
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.”