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Leveraging inspiration from our new strategic plan, last October I sat down with our Sustainability Advisory Committee to discuss what bold steps we could take to reaffirm our commitment to sustainability and enhancing the world around us. We had just purchased carbon offsets for 2019 and for the first time in WalterFedy’s almost 70-year history, we could say that we were a carbon-neutral company. While we were excited about this big step we wondered where we could go from here.

 

One of our core values at WalterFedy is Integrity. Integrity means that we “do the right thing,” and not just when it’s convenient. We had set strong carbon reduction goals with Sustainable Waterloo Region and we felt we had done a good thing in purchasing carbon offsets, but we also knew we needed to do more. A true commitment to the environment comes through real organizational and operational change and not just strategic giving.

 

We used this as a springboard to propel our firm toward more substantive changes and set to work in building an ambitious plan to present to our board. Our proposal included a commitment to aggressively cut our greenhouse gas emissions from our 2017 levels by 60% by 2030, all while purchasing enough carbon offsets annually to offset our remaining emissions - and pull us 10% below zero emissions. The board overwhelmingly supported our initiative.

 

Our largest carbon footprint is linked to transportation-related emissions – more specifically in Employee Commute and Business Travel. Our Sustainable Advisory Committee is currently working to develop strategies to help us achieve our reduction goals, but we know that we will all have to work together to realize this ambitious vision. 

 

Beyond the carbon emissions directly linked to our employee’s daily activities, we know that our team can make an even greater impact on the world around us through our design and construction activities. As a firm, we are committed to improving the materials and methods used in our projects so that the spaces we design and construct have minimal impact on the environment.

 

Our Sustainability Advisory Committee is actively developing an implementation plan to integrate The Canada Green Building Council’s (CaGBC) Zero Carbon Building Standard and additional sustainable design measures in all our work.

 

Learn more about our corporate sustainability goals.

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WalterFedy is hosting its second virtual rotating art show. Since 2019, WalterFedy has partnered with Art$Pay to display artwork in our office, made by local talent. The initiative's original goal was to brighten the shared spaces in our office with rotating artwork for clients and staff to enjoy. 

 

When the pandemic hit and our office was closed, the scheduled art installation went ahead as planned. But with very few people in the office, it wasn’t getting the attention it deserved. We were also unable to host a gallery launch to celebrate the artists and enjoy their work with family and friends. Naturally, like so many other things during the pandemic, we took the new art installation online and made it virtual to ensure our local artists, and their creations, could get the attention they deserve.

 

Art$Pay is a local program that provides an opportunity for local artists to showcase their artwork while making a profit regardless of if their work sells while on display or not. Often, when artists publicly display their work, they receive nothing unless a piece is sold. The Art$Pay model is much fairer for these creators as they receive exposure and remuneration for their work.

 

The latest installation from Art$Pay, which runs until August 31, 2021, is named "Lifting Spirits." All pieces were selected for their feeling of inspiration and optimism; a little something to help lift all our spirits during these challenging times. 

 

Our Office Coordinator, Tori Coles, helps facilitate the program and believes the program is a meaningful way to contribute and give back to our community. 

 

"Paying artists for the use of their displayed artwork helps to address the sustainability challenges faced by the local visual arts sector, and this program is an amazing community role model, where too often free exposure is the offer."  We are proud to support the arts within our local community.

 

Please enjoy the following video and feel free to reach out to Art$Pay directly to purchase any of the pieces. You can also visit their website to see what other artists are working on in the community. All proceeds go back to the artists in our Region who help keep the arts thriving.  

 

Thank you to Art$Pay, Cathy Farwell, and all of the incredibly talented artists whose work is featured in this video. Check out https://artspay.org/ for more information.

 

 

 

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A career in sustainability can take many forms. Some work in environmental law or advocacy, and others focus on research and development for new technologies. For resident sustainability expert Marlen Aleman, her niche is Asset and Facilities Management (AFM).  

 

Marlen has spent many years serving as a sustainability consultant, helping thousands of square feet of real estate across Ontario earn varying degrees of sustainability certification. A LEED Green Associate and certified Facilities Management Professional, Marlen combines her knowledge of building operations and building best practices to help clients achieve their sustainability goals. 

 

“Everything we do in AFM has to do with sustainability,” said Marlen. “We are helping to maximize building performance and lifecycle, so rather than decommissioning a building and start a new construction, we help our clients in the planning to keep their assets in good condition and up to standards. We can also help with operational strategies that impact energy consumption, but also the productivity and wellbeing of the occupants. It’s creating a sustainable environment and I am very proud of that.” 

 

Marlen and her team work closely with clients to help them map out plans to increase their sustainable practices and earn recognition for the strides they have made. Often times, this takes the form of guiding partners through programs like Buildings Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), which has a comprehensive rating system that helps owners of existing buildings achieve certification and recognition for their practices on an operational level. This means taking a critical look at energy, water, air, comfort, health and wellness, custodial practices, purchasing, waste, site, and stakeholder engagement. 

 

“The early integration of sustainability considerations is key for the success of any project. Our work helps our clients make informed decisions that have a positive impact in their bottom line, the environment and the well being of building occupants,” said Marlen. 

 

Whether you have an established building, or are exploring a new build, there are numerous programs available to help stimulate greener practices and design in business, including LEED, WELL, BOMA, and NetZero. While more and more businesses are striving to create positive change in their buildings and work culture, many are still working up the courage to take the next step.  

 

“One of the biggest misconceptions about sustainability is that it is expensive,” said Marlen. In fact, it is more accessible than you might think. “Some very important green strategies and activities cost very little,” she explained. The best place to start is with the people in your organization, and this approach is virtually free. With the implementation of awareness programs, tenants can start making changes to their habits that greatly reduce their environmental impact. “Green building systems are most effective if building occupants know how they work. That’s where every sustainability approach should begin.” 

 

Outside of her role as an Asset Management Specialist, Marlen actively participates in conversations on green living. She is a key member of WalterFedy’s Sustainable Advisory Committee, which was developed to facilitate ongoing change within the organization to reduce environmental impact. She also volunteers with Women in Renewable Energy and provides mentorship to young professionals looking to jumpstart their career in green industry.  Her motivation is simple: “The planet is the only home we have. I want my son to grow up in a healthy environment and enjoy nature. Sustainability is a way of living. It isn’t just a standalone project. It is a wide cultural change that needs to happen and can happen.” 

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This April, we had the privilege of receiving recognition from Sustainable Waterloo Region for our sustainability efforts in 2018. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Award recognizes the organization that has reduced the most GHG emissions relative to their size. 

In 2018, we successfully worked to reduce both our direct and indirect GHGs by 6%. We also re-committed to reduce our GHG emissions by an additional 40% after achieving our initial Silver Pledging Partner reduction goal. In order to meet this new reduction goal by 2027, we've developed a five-year action plan and now have annual implementation projects and reduction forecasts in place.

 We take our commitment to sustainability seriously; it’s one of our core values! The nature of our work affords us the opportunity to have a significant impact on environmental sustainability through both project work and through our own corporate actions. We are grateful to our internal Sustainable Advisory Committee for continuing to push us to improve, and to organizations like Sustainable Waterloo Region for helping us set smart goals for a greener future.

 

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