I’m a city girl, born and raised. I love the fast-paced action, the never-ending events, and being part of a complex network of people, art, culture and industry. Like many people, I also love nature and enjoy soaking up fresh air, hiking or spending time near the lake. Often, however, cities (and their office buildings) just don’t do a great job of sustaining the environment. But my recent Green Office Tour of PwC’s 18 York st office in Toronto during PwC’s Corporate Responsibility Week helped me understand more about the building’s environmental sustainability and that PwC is just as passionate as I am about preserving nature.
When I started my summer internship at 18 York, I knew right away this building was special. For example, the outdoor “Oasis” garden off the third floor cafeteria is a forest of trees, flowers and quaint wooden benches that face historic and modern city buildings. When I have blocks of time without meetings, I go outside on the third floor to work while enjoying the fresh air and view (I’m actually writing this post tucked in the corner of a bench, basking in the summer sunshine and loving the fact I’m getting a tan while at work). Not only does the building feel like a nature-oasis in the city’s South Core Financial district, but it’s also certified LEED Gold – meaning it’s environmentally sustainable with special emphasis on preventing global climate change.
When I have meetings, I book them in rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows that face Toronto’s waterfront or Maple Leaf Square. If the sun makes the room too hot, solar-powered blinds automatically lower to conserve air conditioning.
All the cold water in the building is actually lake water that is brought up from the depths of Lake Ontario and then once used, returned directly to the lake to avoid contamination of municipal water. The v16 generator is mainly used as an energy back-up in the case of a power-failure. The control room – though tiny – controls all energy aspects of the building via the computers and switches that are housed there. If an emergency were to occur, building personnel could fix it directly from their own laptops – even if they were at home in the middle of the night..
Twenty-nine stories up on the roof, water storage cisterns catch rain water for use within the building. The tour reinforced my pride in having the good fortune to work for a company that prioritizes sustainability.
PwC has recently opened new offices in Saskatoon and St John’s and is refurbishing many of their existing offices over the next 18 to 24 months, marrying the priorities of creating a comfortable work-space with ensuring our environment is preserved. The fact that PwC Canada takes one of my personal priorities seriously is pretty incredible.
Find out more about PwC’s corporate responsibility efforts.