LEED Spotlight: TELUS Garden Office Tower earns LEED Platinum

Photo of TELUS Garden Office Tower

In the heart of downtown Vancouver sits the one million square foot TELUS Garden development comprising of a 22-storey LEED Platinum office tower and, currently under construction, a 47-storey residential tower that will feature 424 green homes and retail space, targeting LEED Gold.

TELUS Garden Office Tower provides a space with a large focus on human health where sustainability and comfort are joined to offer a workspace that promotes a healthy office life. We talked to Geoff de Bruijn, VP Corporate Services & Sustainability of TELUS about this high profile new project and what they have learned along the way.

A sustainable urban oasis

The recent recipient of the 2016 Architizer A+ award for Office High Rise, TELUS Garden offers sustainable design in an urban setting with unique green features:

  • A District Energy System (DES), operated in partnership with Fortis B.C, recycles heat from the existing buildings and uses it to heat the new office and residential towers. This system reduces the demand for heating and cooling from conventional energy sources by 80 per cent and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than one million kilograms a year – the equivalent of planting 25,000 trees every year. Furthermore, it also recovers waste energy from the neighbouring telecommunications building and uses it to heat and cool air and water throughout the development.

  • Touting the largest solar panel system in the city, the rooftop solar panels capture energy from the sun to help power exterior lighting as state of the art building control systems maximize the efficiency of energy-consuming equipment.

  • To allow for convenient access to the outdoor environment, exterior terraces grace six different levels of the tower while the triple glazed windows help maintain consistent interior temperatures and reduce exterior noise pollution.

  • Additionally, rainwater harvesting is performed for use as non-potable water and charging stations for electric vehicles are available.

LEED certification supports vision and generates value

In 2015, TELUS evolved its sustainability vision: Inspired by nature; creating a healthier more sustainable future – for both their team and all Canadians.

“As a global leader in sustainability, TELUS aligns itself with industry leaders and aims to meet the highest standards. As such, LEED was an obvious choice as one of the most comprehensive and well-recognized rating structures for sustainability with an excellent reputation in the industry,” says Geoff.

TELUS is one of the largest lease holders of LEED Platinum space in North America, with properties that include TELUS House Toronto, TELUS Garden in Vancouver, and their latest development in Calgary, TELUS Sky.

“We strive for LEED Gold or better in our new office buildings, and we are investing in upgrades to existing real estate assets across Canada to build workspaces that encourage innovation, creativity and, most importantly, to support our team members by creating a work environment that is second-to-none in Canada,” says Geoff.

A breath of fresh air for workers

In order to progress their sustainability goals, TELUS is developing environmentally advanced workplaces like TELUS Garden that features unique design elements to drive collaboration and innovation, and encourage a more productive, happy and healthy office life. These features include a raised floor system delivering 100 per cent fresh air ventilation into working spaces (a typical office building in Vancouver recycles 70-85 per cent of the air workers breathe).

Photo of TELUS Garden Office Tower Lobby

The innovative floor plan design positions offices in the interior core to maximize natural light and workspaces incorporate ergonomically designed desks and chairs. Workers have access to the 10,000 sq. ft. of outdoor garden terraces, as well as a community garden where they can grow organic produce. TELUS has also included bike storage and showers to encourage staff to cycle to work, and promotes sustainable food practices by educating staff through sustainable food production workshops.

In order to demonstrate the positive impact of these features and others, TELUS engages an external academic research partner to measure employee engagement and wellness specifically related to staff amenities.

TELUS President & CEO, Darren Entwistle, adds: "At the heart of our investments, our innovation, and our many notable firsts—including TELUS Garden—is our company's single greatest competitive advantage: our team. [They] are the driving force of this organization. TELUS Garden was built as a lasting tribute to [them].”

Community benefits from greener buildings

With stakeholders increasingly considering sustainability performance in their purchasing, employment, and investment decisions, TELUS continues to integrate sustainability considerations into their operations and strategies.

In understanding the importance of green building and sustainability, TELUS Garden supports Vancouver’s goal to become the greenest city by 2020. “We believe there is a symbiotic relationship between our company, our team and the health and prosperity of our communities. We take a triple bottom-line approach to business, balancing economic growth with a diligent focus on environmental and social goals.”

TELUS Garden has opened almost 450,000 square feet of office space for businesses and more than 65,000 square feet of new retail space in the downtown core. In relation to this new leasable space, Geoff says: “[It] allows smaller environmentally conscious organizations, which are not able to make the significant investment necessary to develop a sustainable workspace, to still run a business in a Canadian epicentre while reducing their environmental footprint. We have also opened our doors to representatives of the government, academia and other businesses not only to showcase the features and benefits of TELUS Garden but also to share our learnings and give our space to other environmentally-minded people and organizations.”

“At TELUS, we recognize that we have both the ability and responsibility to influence the quality of life in the communities where our customers and employees live and work.”

Project team

Project Owner/Developer TELUS/Westbank
LEED Consultant Integral Group
Architect Henriquez Partners Architects
Mechanical Engineer Integral Group
Electrical Engineer Integral Group
Structural Engineer Glotman Simpson
Landscape Architect PFS Studio
Project Manager Westbank
Contractor/Builder ICON Pacific Construction
Commissioning Authority C.E.S. Engineering Ltd.
Owners Representative/TELUS TI Project Manager CBRE Ltd.