Crombie REIT is excited to share that Avalon Mall in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador has achieved BOMA BEST Gold certification. This latest accomplishment is added to an already long list of accolades, including, most recently, the 2022 BOMA NL Earth Award and Certificate of Excellence – Retail. These awards highlight the hard work and operational discipline the Avalon Mall team has dedicated to sustainability initiatives.
In 2020, Crombie completed an approximately $111 million redevelopment of Avalon Mall that included the introduction of a number of energy efficiency measures to reduce overall consumption, such as lighting and mechanical upgrades, and the implementation of a composting and recycling program. This redevelopment was named Champion for a Greener Future by the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board (MMSB) of Newfoundland, a Crown agency of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. MMSB is dedicated to promoting sustainable waste management through public education and waste diversion programs. It was the successful implementation of these measures that paved the way for this Gold Certification honor.
How We Did It
Energy consumption was the first focus for the Avalon Mall team. With the goal of reducing consumption, carbon emissions, and costs, priorities were set for upgrading the energy management system, controlling thermal set points, and upgrading lighting to LED. “We worked closely with our tenants to encourage them to make changes where they could, and to keep them apprised of what work we were doing. Educational sessions were arranged with Newfoundland Power for retailers to learn about rebate programs and other incentives. Tenants were also provided with decals they could put up to remind their staff to turn off lights and computers,” explains Jamie Stroh, Property Manager and member of the Avalon Mall Green Committee.
In 2019, Avalon Mall installed an onsite industrial composter, which allows the building to separate organic waste from beverage containers, liquids, and other litter. Using information obtained from a previous waste audit, the redevelopment of the shopping centre and food court was the opportune time to implement a significant change to waste practices. With the capability of processing a half-ton of organic waste per day, Avalon Mall removed individual waste receptacles in the food court and replaced them with two sorting stations, which are staffed by Crombie personnel. The waste diversion rate grew from 31% in 2014 to 44% in 2020. This year, Avalon’s waste diversion rate is projected to reach 55% as Covid restrictions ease and full organic sorting is reimplemented.
“Customers and clients have been very receptive to the Tray Valet areas where we separate waste,” says Avalon’s General Manager Donna Vincent. “Our team members act as great ambassadors, explaining how the system works and about the composting program at Avalon. In our 55 years, Avalon Mall has always strived to be a leader and innovator in the community and these kinds of initiatives are no different. In the future we will continue to look for new opportunities to create efficiencies for clients and put sustainability front and centre for our customers.”
The “Green” Team
The Avalon Mall Green Committee mobilizes onsite sustainability initiatives. The team includes Willie Power, Supervisor, Engineering and Maintenance, Larry Walton, Operations Manager, Yvonne Peddle, Client Services Coordinator, and Jamie Stroh, Property Manager. This Committee played an essential role in the progress made this past year, and worked alongside employees and tenants to achieve their goals. For instance, the Green Committee recognized the value of having “everyone on board” when implementing a new waste diversion stream. The team provides educational opportunities for employees and retailers and shares periodic reminders on the different recycling opportunities. The education piece is repetitive, but the results speak for themselves. Building a program that is all-inclusive, adaptable, and applicable allows employees to create sustainable habits while fostering a new social norm in the community.
While each Green Committee member oversaw different categories based on their role, they all relied on various members of the greater team, and worked together to achieve their sustainability objectives. “Maintenance staff helped by going out and surveying, while Guest Services staff were compiling and entering data to communicate with the tenants,” Jamie shares. “We also worked with our contractors to answer questions and implement changes.”
Jamie began her sustainability journey in 2010 when she was introduced to the BOMA Certification program by Sue Freak, Property Manager of Avalon Mall at the time. The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) represents members of the commercial real estate industry, and each year they recognize buildings and organizations as experts in various categories, including sustainability. This year, Avalon Mall reached BOMA BEST Gold certification, increasing their standing from BOMA BEST Silver in 2019. “The application process is lengthy and extensive, especially when compiling all of the information and gathering the supporting documents,” Jamie explains. “The dedication of our staff, tenants, and community made this achievement possible.”
The Green Committee is setting an example for all staff, vendors, and the greater St. John’s community. Their ongoing mission? Working closely with shareholders to create a greener future for everyone.
Our Journey Ahead
“I am proud of the hard work by our team at Avalon Mall and across our portfolio. It is this kind of passion, determination, and ingenuity that enables us to deliver on our commitment to do the right thing for the long-term health and viability of our business, our employees, our tenants, for the communities in which we operate, and for our planet,” says Dan Bourque, VP, Sustainability. Dan was closely involved in the Avalon initiatives as Director of Operations, Atlantic, prior to his promotion to VP, Sustainability.
Last month we published our second annual sustainability report, highlighting Crombie’s additional sustainability achievements and efforts. We encourage those reading this article to review our 2021 Sustainability Report. To successfully enact on our sustainability approach, we must bring our clients, customers, and community members along with us on this journey. Crombie is proud of the progress the Avalon team has made, and eagerly looks forward to continued improvements across the portfolio.