“Over the last decade, Menkes has really wanted to be a leader in sustainable real estate and reduce the impact that our buildings have and improve the health and well-being of our occupants,” Menkes sustainability director Jon Douglas told Sustainable Biz Canada.
“Designing, building and managing sustainable buildings is good for business, and it’s why sustainability is woven through our operations and our developments. It’s part of everything we do.”
AeroCentre buildings are last to be certified
Five buildings constructed between 1989 and 2000 at the AeroCentre complex on Explorer Drive in Mississauga, Ont. were the last to receive LEED certifications in late March. AeroCentre V, built in 2010, was previously LEED-certified in 2015, building on its core and shell certification in 2011. LEED is a rating system that’s recognized as the international mark of excellence for green building in more than 160 countries.
AeroCentre’s six-building, 623,250-square-foot suburban office campus sits on 17 acres in Mississauga’s Airport Corporate Centre. It’s owned by Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan and managed by Menkes.
Menkes’ sustainability initiatives at AeroCentre include: sensors to shut off lights when areas aren’t occupied; low-wattage lighting for stairwells that are constantly lit for safety purposes; green housekeeping measures; low-flow plumbing fixtures; and a smart irrigation system to conserve water.
Menkes provides a free hybrid shuttle bus service between AeroCentre and nearby transit hubs. It has installed 10 electric vehicle charging stations, preferred carpooling spots and bicycle racks. Tenants have access to an on-site, 7,000-square-foot fitness facility, change rooms, showers and lockers, and well-being programs through Menkes’ “Healthy Spaces” program.
Menkes’ commitment to sustainability
Menkes’ commitment to sustainability also shines through with its office portfolio being 100-per cent BOMA BEST-certified at either the Gold or Platinum levels. BOMA BEST is North America’s largest environmental assessment and certification program for existing buildings, with more than 5,000 obtaining a certification or re-certification.
Eighty-five per cent of Menkes’ office portfolio has received a Fitwel certification, which recognizes the optimization of a building’s health to promote its occupants’ well-being. Menkes has also achieved a five-star rating from GRESB, a global standard for benchmarking the sustainability performance of companies.
Douglas said Menkes is interested in continuous improvement and “trying to push the bar for the industry” when it comes to sustainability. The 65-year-old, privately owned, fully integrated real estate company upgrades its certifications where possible.
Menkes’ 4711 Yonge Street property in Toronto, built in 1987, improved from LEED Silver to LEED Gold. Another Toronto building, 25 York Street, which opened in 2009, upgraded from LEED Gold to LEED Platinum.
“We have an overarching corporate responsibility and sustainability policy with five core beliefs that Menkes has: designing vibrant and beautiful spaces; creating healthy work environments; building sustainable workplaces; contributing to our local communities; and developing lasting connections with people,” said Douglas.
“Underpinning those are six sustainability priorities that are material to us and our stakeholders. They are energy, materials, nature, transportation, water and well-being.”
Sustainability initiatives are important in retaining tenants in existing buildings and attracting them to new ones. Douglas pointed out that they helped 25 York Street open at 95 per cent occupancy, while One York Street opened at full occupancy in 2016.
“We’re constantly building inside of Toronto and we want tenants to move into those buildings and find them desirable,” said Douglas.