Living Planet @ Work’s company of the year, Bentall Kennedy: Practicing what they preach

Sustainability has always been important for Bentall Kennedy, one of North America’s largest real estate advisory and services firms. For several years, the company has run a successful sustainability program to help its Property Management teams and building tenants reduce their eco-footprints.
This continuing work has resulted in Bentall Kennedy’s selection by WWF-Canada as Living Planet @ Work’s 2014 Company of the Year.
“As a landlord, we are increasingly asking our tenants to work with us to improve environmental performance of our buildings, and we must lead by example,” says Remco Daal, President & COO for Bentall Kennedy in Canada. “We are very pleased to have earned this Company of the Year distinction, given our core belief that sustainability-related programs are simply better business for us and for the tenants we serve.”

© Bentall Kennedy
Melissa Jacobs and the Blue Team at Bentall Kennedy’s Toronto office. © Bentall Kennedy

In January 2014, Bentall Kennedy re-energized their own corporate office “Blue Teams,” in cities from San Francisco to Montreal to reduce their workplace footprint. The teams focused on issues such as energy use, water use, waste and transportation in offices countrywide.
The teams didn’t have to go it alone. A comprehensive toolkit from the sustainability specialists at head office provided checklists, newsletters, weekly actions and more. According to Melissa Jacobs, Manager of Sustainability at Bentall Kennedy, having an easy-to-implement, out-of-the-box program was a huge key to success. With resources and ideas that included extensive material from WWF’s Living Planet @ Work site, a team of even one or two employees could accomplish big things.
As well as taking concrete steps to green their offices, the enthusiastic teams organized contests, lunch ‘n’ learns and events such as Earth Hour and National Sweater Day that involved almost half of the company’s employees.
For Melissa, one of the highlights of the year was a major fundraising initiative for WWF’s Arctic Home campaign. Posters and elevator screen advertising raised awareness in Bentall Kennedy’s buildings across Ontario. In Toronto, the company teamed up with WWF and Toronto Hydro to organize lobby events, complete with trivia games that tested tenants’ knowledge of climate change and energy conservation.
“It was just a great way to stop and chat with people about the work we are doing, the donation that we made, and raise some awareness for the Arctic Home campaign,” says Melissa.
Altogether, Bentall Kennedy raised $37,440 for Arctic conservation, easily surpassing their goal of $25,000.
As a real estate company, focusing on sustainability makes sense, whether in direct cost savings through reduced energy use or in the benefits from reduced water use and waste. Equally important, sustainability is a powerful driver of employee and tenant satisfaction.
Melissa notes that sustainability is on the radar for many tenants. In fact, a number of Bentall Kennedy’s commercial clients have used the program to engage their own employees — even in buildings managed by other companies.
In the coming year, Melissa looks forward to engaging an even larger audience through social media, contests, weekly actions and a little eco-gamification. “We did reach a lot people, but when you think about the number of buildings we have out there, there’s still massive opportunity,” she says.
Congratulations to Melissa, the sustainability team at head office and Bentall Kennedy’s Blue Teams across the country for their fantastic efforts!
Interested in leading footprint reduction initiatives, hosting environmental campaigns and fundraising for conservation programs year-round with your colleagues just like Melissa and her team did? Join Living Planet @ Work and get free access to tools and resources to help you.