At Timberland, corporate social and environmental responsibility is so integral to everything we do, it even informs where we locate our office space. Take Canada, for example. Timberland’s Canada office was previously located outside the city of Toronto, with no direct access to public subway transportation or bike routes. The building was not LEED® certified. And with twice the space we needed, it also lacked energy efficiency. Clearly, something needed to change.
At the time the staff began contemplating a move, Evergreen Brick Works targeted the former Don Valley Brick Works—a 12-acre complex of historic but deteriorating buildings in Toronto—for transformation into an international showcase for urban sustainability and green design.
Established in 1991, Evergreen Canada is a national charity that seeks to deepen the connection between people and nature within an urban setting, by creating a community environmental center that inspires and equips visitors to live, work, and play more sustainably.
In restoring and renovating the complex, Evergreen implemented a number of innovative and eco-conscious features, including:
- An on-site garden center selling local produce, with proceeds funding Evergreen’s efforts
- Solar chimneys to improve air flow and reduce the need for air conditioning
- Solar panels attached to the hot water heater, meeting 50% of the demand for hot water
- A roof that reflects light to lower summer building temperatures
- Rooftop grass and wildflower plantings for wildlife habitat and stormwater retention
- Rain-harvesting cisterns
“Even the parking lot was built with the environment in mind,” marvels Josh McKellar, marketing manager for Timberland in Canada. “The porous concrete lets water flow through as if the parking lot wasn’t there. This helps maintain the natural water cycle—reducing stormwater runoff and replenishing groundwater.” McKellar also points out that the LED parking lot lights are designed to direct light downward, keeping the sky naturally dark for birds, insects, and bats and simultaneously reducing energy use by 85 percent.
Evergreen’s efforts to reduce environmental impact have received much acclaim, including LEED® Platinum Certification for its anchor building and recognition as a “Top 10 Geotourism Destination” by National Geographic shortly after the complex opened in 2010. So it’s no wonder that competition among potential tenants was high.
In our application for space at Evergreen Brick Works, Timberland stressed the alignment of the company’s values with those of Evergreen and the potential for collaborating on sustainable innovation and consumer engagement, such as the “Earth Month” tree-planting event that occurs every April.
The application was approved, and Timberland’s Canada staff moved into the new office space in June 2011. “Their vision is to create a community of like-minded groups,” says McKellar. “We became the only for profit company to occupy the Evergreen Brick Works because of our corporate environmental commitment. They felt this would help round out the community.”
The total cost to Timberland was $60,000, a figure that included building out the raw space and moving furniture to the new location. The company also realized immediate savings of $2,000 per month in rent. From an environmental standpoint, the new site provides better access to public transportation, and the building’s energy efficiency features will contribute to Timberland’s ability to meet our 2015 goal of a 50% emissions reduction for our global facilities and air travel. In addition, according to McKellar, “The location will allow us to better interact with and respond to our customers, and we’ll also appeal to consumers who demand more from a sustainability standpoint for our product.”
As a result of this move, the Canada staff earned Timberland’s coveted Carden Welsh Award for Environmental Excellence, an honor established in 2002 and awarded annually to individuals or teams of employees whose actions lead to a sustainable improvement in Timberland’s environmental footprint.