Business Development Bank of Canada’s Markham, ON, Business Centre certifies LEED Gold

Markham, Ontario

January 4, 2014

Rating System/Standard
LEED Canada
Certification Level
Building Type

We spoke to Martin Dorais, Director of Real Estate and Facilities for Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), about why BDC decided to invest in certifying their Markham office to LEED Gold for Commercial Interiors, and how transforming this space has not only benefited their employees in tangible ways, but has become a source of pride when dealing with clients.

Tell me about the project and its unique features, particularly those that led to it certifying LEED Gold for Commercial Interiors.

BDC’s Markham business centre was completed in September 2012, one of more than a hundred centres across Canada. As the only bank in the country dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurs, BDC provides financing and consulting services to business owners.

It’s one of two offices certified for LEED for Commercial Interiors. The other is in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

The first things people notice about the office are the massive windows and the abundant natural light. We designed the space with employee well-being in mind and centered everyone’s work stations around natural light sources.

Another advantage is the large balcony with seating. It didn’t garner any LEED points but employees love it!

We also:

  • Diverted from landfills and recycled over 75 per cent of construction waste;
  • Ensured 30 per cent of office furniture and furnishings were re-used items;
  • Sourced 20 per cent of building materials and products from within an 800 kilometer radius;
  • Achieved a 30 per cent reduction in water usage by updating water valves and fixtures (this got points for “Exemplary Performance”); and
  • Insisted on 100 per cent Energy Star rated eligible equipment and appliances, reducing energy consumption costs by more than 36 per cent compared to the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 standard.

Why did you choose LEED, and not a less rigorous standard?

Our Real Estate and Facilities Management team has been applying LEED principles to its construction projects for about ten years now. It made sense to finally seek official certification.

Plus, the Markham office is located in a newly constructed LEED Core & Shell Candidate Building, one of several motivators for choosing LEED certification.

Remember, LEED sets the standard. It helps us meet operational environmental goals and is an internationally recognized framework in which to operate and evaluate success.

Ultimately, LEED is about accountability and transparency, supported by third party certification. It’s a trusted, surefire way for BDC to publicly affirm its commitment to the environment. Our clients and employees expect nothing less.

What value does LEED certification bring to you?

We don’t own any of the buildings we occupy, but since we tend to remain in one given location for a ten-to-fifteen year period, it made sense to invest in LEED for a new premise and reap the environmental benefits that come with that.

But LEED also brings another very big value: the employees we need to fulfill our primary responsibility – serve entrepreneurs – tell us they like and respect LEED. They’re proud to work for a company that has a purpose, and that strives to be the best it can be, including environmentally. 

Indeed, some job candidates ask us if we have LEED buildings!

What was the biggest lesson learned from building a LEED project?

Two important lessons we learned were:

  • It’s key to get your LEED Accredited Professional on board early in the process. Ours was a valuable liaison with developers and ensured that base building components were chosen and integrated according to our original building plan and vision.
  • Also, employees really appreciate “green housekeeping”. With their health and the environment in mind, they’re curious about the products used in their workplace. The housekeeping firm we use was happy to come in and describe their green products and practices.

Anything else you’d like to add – about your building or LEED in general?

Following LEED principles and obtaining certification is an important part of our team’s long-term plans.

What we do is work with sustainability in mind from concept and planning, to constructing and operating our business centres – all one hundred of them!

Sustainable practices have given our colleagues and clients a better understanding of BDC’s economic, social, and environmental impact, all of which tie in with LEED.

BDC’s LEED CI certification in Markham is proof we’re making the right choices.

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