The race is on for owners and tenants in some of the largest commercial office spaces in Manitoba in an unprecedented collaboration to reduce energy use in a friendly four-year challenge to see who can be the most efficient by 2021.
The owners of commercial office buildings totaling more than six million square feet – the equivalent of 5,000 residential homes – have already signed up for the race with a goal to save at least 10 per cent of their energy use, said Manitoba Race to Reduce Co-Chair Frank Sherlock.
“On any other day we are often in competition with each other for business and for tenants, but we’ve joined in an unprecedented collaboration to reduce energy use over the next four years. We know that we can accomplish a lot more together when we change our work habits, from even the smallest things, like turning off the lights when we leave, to using LED lighting,” said Sherlock, Artis REIT Executive Vice-President, Property Management, whose building at Portage and Main is in the race.
Together the buildings in Manitoba Race to Reduce spend millions of dollars every year on heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation, said Johanna Hurme, incoming Chair of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, who helped launch the race today at Portage and Main.
“If all landlords, tenants and employees in Manitoba worked together to save 10 per cent it would be equivalent to taking 1,000 cars off the road for a year. We also know that Toronto building owners managed to reduce energy use by 12 per cent in a similar competition, and wouldn’t it be great to challenge their record?” said Hurme, Partner in 5468796 Architecture.
“Race to Reduce Manitoba fits with our goals of carrying out our business activities at Manitoba Hydro in an environmentally responsible way, promoting a healthier environment, enhancing energy conservation and reducing green house gas emissions,” Manitoba Hydro President and CEO Kelvin Shepherd said. “I know Manitobans including our business community value these goals as well.”
“We believe we have a unique opportunity to increase the energy efficiency within Manitoba’s commercial building sector,” Shepherd said. “We are spearheading and also participating in this race over the next four years with our commercial buildings across the province. We invite and challenge commercial landlords and tenants alike to enter the race, and we look forward to a spirited competition as we race to reduce the energy consumption in our buildings.”
In the long run, Manitoba Race to Reduce is good for the environment, added Ersilia Serafini, CEO Summerhill Group, which is organizing the competition.
“Most businesses and tenants have strategic businesses goals that include being better environmental stewards so joining Manitoba Race to Reduce is one way to accomplish that business goal,” Serafini said, encouraging more Manitoba businesses to join the race soon.
Q+A about Manitoba Race to Reduce
What would it look like if ALL Winnipeg office buildings reduced their energy?
A 10% reduction in energy use across ALL office buildings in Manitoba could mean…
- 1,000 cars off the road for one year
- or not burning 2 million litres of gasoline for one year
- or not harvesting 500,000 trees for one year
- and saving $2 million on energy bills
What building owners have already signed up?
So far over 6 million square feet of commercial office space – equal to 5,000 residential homes – have committed to the race. The initial goal was to get 3 million square feet confirmed before launching the race and that was quickly surpassed with Manitoba businesses quickly getting on board.
A few well-known buildings in the race include:
- Artis REIT, Portage and Main
- Great-West Life, Broadway and Osborne.
- Investors Group, Portage and Memorial
- Manitoba Hydro, Portage and Edmonton
- The TD Trust Building, Portage and Main
- Manitoba Public Insurance buildings
- City of Winnipeg buildings … and many more.
Who can join the race?
Any commercial office building in Manitoba with 30,000 square feet or more can join.
What’s the incentive to join?
Manitoba Race to Reduce will be tracking the results and every year will give awards to the building owners, tenants and staff who lead the race. Most businesses and tenants have strategic businesses goals that include being better environmental stewards, so joining Manitoba Race to Reduce is one way to accomplish that business goal. They can also save hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy.
What can big buildings realistically do to reduced energy?
There are two main areas they can change – the building itself and the behavior of people in the building. Manitoba Race to Reduce focuses on helping offices learn how staff can make small personal changes that can lead to big savings
What can individual workers at their desks actually do to make a difference?
- Close window blinds to shade an office from direct sunlight in the summer and open blinds to gain heat from the sun in the winter.
- Turn off lights when leaving the office.
- Turn on the energy-saver option on computers.
- Unplug phone chargers and other devices when not in use.