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“Bentall-Kennedy is committed to developing and implementing a continuous improvement strategy of best practices based upon the principles of environmental sustainability, social and economic responsibility for our Real Estate Services.” - Bentall Kennedy’s ForeverGreen Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Mission Statement
Foresight, leadership and engagement are the cornerstones of Bentall Kennedy’s sustainability and corporate responsibility strategy. Environmental sustainability and social and economic responsibility are integrated into the company’s asset management, property management, leasing and development services through a continuous improvement philosophy.
One of the “50 Best Employers in Canada” for four years running, the company’s engaged workforce and a tradition of environmental and social accountability, has positioned it as an influential advocate for sustainability issues. Leading the industry and sharing best practices along the way, Bentall-Kennedy is a recognized leader in building certification programs including BOMA BESt and LEED; and it has successfully achieved carbon neutrality for its corporate business operations (including business travel, employee commuting, and energy use at corporate offices).
Bentall Kennedy’s Business Case for Sustainability
At Bentall Kennedy, the business case for sustainability is three-fold: profitability, fit with core values, and market leadership. Energy represents as much as 30% of a building’s operating costs with lighting, office equipment and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems) systems being the major energy users. Eco-efficiencies for sustainability increase profitability for building owners, tenants and managers.
Sustainability also builds on Bentall Kennedy’s longstanding commitment to the environment and employee engagement. “As one of the ‘50 Best Employers’ our employees tell us that sustainability is important to them,” says Giselle Gagnon, VP National Real Estate Services. “We have an enduring commitment to environmental stewardship; building on this foundation through responsible property management and investment practices is a logical extension to the way we do business.”
In addition, the development of Bentall Kennedy’s sustainability strategy has presented significant opportunities. Today, it has received more than 15 prestigious awards for being a pioneer of environmentally and socially responsible standards, best practices and new technologies. Recently Bentall Kennedy was awarded top honours in a benchmarking initiative in the Canadian real estate industry completed by Jantzi Sustainalytics. The initiative measured performance in the three dimensions of sustainability: environmental, social and governance. Bentall Kennedy’s scores outperformed industry averages in the United States, Europe and Australia as well.
Being a “Game Changer” for a Sustainable World
Promoting positive transformation can be game changing. It can nudge a paradigm in a new direction. Bentall Kennedy’s sustainability initiatives are intended to do just that. By demonstrating proof of concept within the company and the industry, Bentall looks to expand the boundaries of what is possible. The company has implemented leading technologies, like a rainwater recover system at the World Exchange Plaza in Ottawa; proven that tenant engagement can be an effective means of increasing awareness at Bentall Kennedy Centre in Vancouver’s financial district , and established that community involvement, through programs like Hands Up Canada in support of the Canadian Paralympics, is gratifying for all involved.
Commencing with an internal vision shared by employees and senior management, Bentall Kennedy launched its branded sustainability strategy, ForeverGreen. This strategy lays out a mission for the initiative tying together environmental sustainability with social and economic responsibility. Through a three-year rolling plan, the strategy establishes goals for utilities, waste management, building certifications, information sharing, communication & education, indoor environment and social issues. Strategically, they look to advance programs that reduce energy and water use, minimize waste and contribute to the overall health and well being of the buildings they manage, the tenants that occupy them and the communities where they reside. “Our mandate is to stay at the forefront of sustainability”, says Gagnon.
Linking the Old with the New
Transformational change can sometimes cause anxiety within a company or an industry. But Bentall Kennedy has successfully blended incremental and transformational change, first by building on existing core competencies. For instance, Bentall Kennedy’s utility tracking system was augmented to become ECO-Tracker, which is one of the dynamic tools that the company has created to equip employees with real-time monitoring of environmental performance. The system benchmarks properties against one another; tracks progress year-over-year; and includes a greenhouse gas calculation tool that incorporates all utilities and waste. By transforming the old and familiar into something new, sustainability becomes a unifying umbrella under which different efforts can fall.
Bentall Kennedy’s goal of Carbon Neutrality broadcasts its intention to lead the pack in responsible real estate services. In the beginning, the company retained a carbon footprint consultant and chartered a Green Team to measure the greenhouse gases (GHGs) at its corporate office facilities. This Team took the company through the GHG planning, development and management process.
The Green Team measured its corporate carbon footprint on scope 1, 2 and 3 parameters. The result was a series of programs aimed to increase energy efficiency and employee engagement processes. The GHG reduction strategy led to the purchase of 100% green electricity from Bullfrog Power™ for Bentall Kennedy’s Calgary and Toronto corporate offices. Any remaining GHG’s were offset through Carbonzero in support of energy efficiency programs for social housing. The company plans to file its first sustainability report in 2010 in which it will highlight sustainability achievements in 2009.
Employee Engagement - Caught Green Handed
Recognizing the importance of employee engagement for sustainability, the company launched its Caught Green Handed Program in 2009. This initiative aims to raise employee awareness and help change the environmental impact of how Bentall employees interact at work. Some key elements of Caught Green Handed include:
Tools and Best Practices in the Right Places
The company’s “inside/outside” strategy enables internal and external best practices and tools to be used to service building owners and their tenants. Bentall Kennedy’s property teams are armed with internal innovative guidance documents and tools for greening their buildings; a few examples include:
More importantly, Bentall Kennedy is using and advancing these tools and best practices within the organization. The strategy is affecting change for sustainability by: 1) redesigning infrastructure, 2) adjusting feedback loops, 3) improving information flows, 4) changing policies, procedures and rules, 5) enabling self-organization, 6) modifying goals and 7) shifting the mindset of people.
Results and Lessons Learned
Achieving sustainability is an ever evolving process that takes vision, leadership and engagement. “The goal is to ensure that sustainability is systematically incorporated into everyday business practice,” says Remco Daal, President and COO. “People are really engaged and sincere about wanting to do their part - there is power in everyone working together to achieve a common goal. With buildings estimated to represent more than 30% of global emissions, collectively we have the ability to make a difference.”
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