Canadian Retailers Going Green, Starting At Their Roofs

Retailers have been working on their sustainability policies for their properties for about a decade, and now, these efforts bear fruit with green real estate features and amenities becoming commonplace. Businesses now have green roofing in Calgary and across Canada, working alongside electric vehicle chargers and even beehives.

One such retailer is the family-owner fashion store, Simons, which recently opened its first net-zero store, which was designed with the aim of generating as much energy as it uses. The 80,000 ft2 store was opened in March in Quebec, the store’s hometown; sporting solar panels on its roof and the parking lot, as well as utilizing a geothermal heating system.

Simons Director of Store Development, Angela Stinson, says that the mandate for the company as it expands is to create more net-zero stores, stating that there are two more such locations currently in the works, one in St. Bruno and the other on the west island of Montreal. The company also provides electric vehicle chargers for its customers.

Stinson says that being a private company allowed Simons to take this risk, as these kinds of changes make payback in 32 or 35 years, which is not something a public firm, which worries about returns every quarter, can take.

The firm also took steps to ensure that its customers know of their sustainability program; with a podium in Londonderry Simons that inform people about solar generation, how much electricity has been used, what the offset is, and other key metrics, like how much gasoline has been diverted thanks to charging stations.

Another major company with such sustainability efforts is retail giant IKEA, whose efforts began in full after 2010.

According to IKEA Canada Head of Sustainability, Brendan Seale, one of the big commitments that the company made is to generate more renewable energy than what they consume by the time 2020 rolls around.

All of IKEA Canada’s Ontario stores already have solar; meanwhile, they turned to roofing in Calgary and Edmonton to get solar installations on their stores there, while Halifax has the same, plus a green wall and passive solar feature. All of these installations in Alberta slashes the company’s annual energy use in the province by about 1/4th.

Seale says that such changes depend on where the investment is; if such a choice makes sense for the company. In provinces and locations where the cost of power is low, like B.C., Manitoba and Quebec, because of clean and affordable hydroelectric power, it’s a great investment.