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5 Ways the Canadian Office Sector is Going Green

Updated: Apr 9, 2022

Over the past decade, Canadian commercial real estate firms have shown an increased commitment to Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria. ESG is a set of ethical standards for a company's operations, which have led firms to leverage cutting-edge technology and sustainable design techniques to promote sustainability in the office space.

The roll-out of these initiatives has proven to not only be cost-effective but also reduce CO2 emissions, producing a net benefit for cities in the long run.

1. Biophilic Design

Biophilic design is a design aesthetic and strategy that strengthens our connection with nature in the built space. In the office space, biophilic design is represented in both the direct expressions of nature.

Common Biophilic expressions include but are not limited to:

  • Incorporation of plants

  • Windows and natural lighting

  • Natural materials and elements such as stone, wood, and bamboo

  • Forms and patterns inspired by nature i.e. leaf patterns, honeycombs

Franz Jenowein, former Director of sustainability research at JLL describes biophilia:

“It is a natural evolution from the real estate side: you start with a piece to transact or rent, then move on to thinking about greening it, then, to figuring out that buildings are actually for people. It is a state of mind, where we have the whole spectrum of physical and psychological dimensions”

Along with being sustainable, Biophilic design has a positive impact on building occupants including reducing stress, increasing creativity and motivation, and increasing productivity.

2. Reducing Waste with Data and Analytics

The Canadian office sector is leveraging data and analytics to lessen its negative carbon footprints. Using Environmental Management systems, software that increases compliance and reduces waste, offices can collect immense stores of information, review the data and develop eco-efficient strategies.

One such example is Peak Power Insight Platform, a technology installed in many Colliers-managed buildings. The Peak Power Insight Platform uses wireless sensors to measure real-time metrics that can be adjusted by the building manager. By monitoring temperature, occupancy, electricity consumption, and HVAC operations, this initiative resulted in 4,000 MWh hours saved and approximately $680,000 savings in energy costs.

3. Using Sustainable Materials

Turning towards recyclable and sustainably sourced materials is another way the Canadian office sector is going green.

Recently, Avison Young’s Edmonton office opted for denim insulation, which releases 53 percent less carbon than fiberglass. By not using fiberglass, this project prevented 815 kilograms of drywall waste from entering a landfill, which means that 702 fewer kilos of CO2 will be released into the atmosphere.

4. The Internet of Things (IoT)

Internet of Things refers to a technological ecosystem that uses the internet to monitor any issues that cause waste. It’s a system of computer devices, machines, and objects that have the ability to transfer information without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

For example, if there is a faulty pipe or wire somewhere in the office, the IoT would immediately catch the problem and alert the building manager. This prevents two potential problems: small issues snowballing into bigger issues, and wasting resources from trouble-shooting the error.

5. Going Paperless

The paperless trend is growing increasingly popular in the Canadian office sector, with more firms than ever opting to go the paperless route. CBRE’s innovative workplace 360 program is reflected in its Canadian offices. The program embraces a paperless environment in a “free-address” setting that doesn’t tie the employee to a particular workspace.

Here are some benefits to going paperless:

  • Fast and easy collaboration between employees

  • Less clutter and mail

  • Increased savings on paper

  • Saved time from looking for documents

  • Better for the environment

By embracing technology, workplaces instead enjoy a digital document library that has proven to not only reduce waste, but help team members stay productive.




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