In the portfolio Lindsay manages is a 400,000-square-foot industrial property on Wentworth Street in Whitby, Ontario, managed on behalf of Colliers client Fiera.
Describe the recent landscaping initiative Colliers developed.
There is a misconception about industrial properties that they’re purely functional and not equipped to support social purposes. We want to change that mindset and wanted to plan a new feature to engage tenants and serve as an eco-friendly gathering space.
Together we planted both a pollinator and edible garden – which Colliers has done at many locations in Canada. For the latter, we partnered with Durham College to make available to families experiencing food insecurity, fresh produce boxes containing vegetables we grow here. We complemented this effort by installing bee colonies whose members pollinate flowers and produce honey.
How is the role of property manager evolving as ESG comes into focus?
Only in the past decade has there been focus on trying to meet reporting standards such as GRESB and Energy Star, and seeking certifications through BOMA. A lot is changing in the industry, and in our roles and responsibilities as property managers and building owners, including what’s expected of tenants and occupants. Together, we are embracing these necessary changes.
It’s important to not take anything for granted and consciously push forward projects that may seem routine – LED lighting and economized HVAC units, for example. In all, there is still a ways to go, and having a building owner like Fiera with their own ESG goals in place certainly helps propel new ideas.
Describe your recent win at the BOMA Canada gala.
Our team set out to achieve BOMA certification for the building – earning recognition for operational excellence and occupant experience is important. We work closely with our National ESG Team to review evaluation criteria and how our operations and initiatives at the property stack up.
Long story short: in 2022, we were thrilled to receive BOMA gold-level certification. It was a first for Colliers in Canada, to achieve this status for an industrial property.
This effort had some buzz to it, and we wound up being a finalist for the BOMA Best Award in the Light Industrial category, for the Ontario region. And at their gala in spring 2023, we were thrilled when it was announced that we had won.
Do the buildings in your industrial portfolio have the potential to achieve net zero?
Yes, this portfolio is on that path. With Fiera’s ESG plans taking shape, we have performed several feasibility studies on electrification as part of a bigger emissions reduction plan. We continue to explore the possibility of adding solar electricity to the site, rewilding and shifting to no-mow vegetation to cut back or eliminate the need for gas-powered equipment, etc.
Fiera is serious about their decarbonization plans, and it’s our job to deliver on their ESG goals through the way we manage their properties.