Impact Report - Climate Action - Spirit of Toronto: a new sustainable HQ
Joe Almeida photographed by May Truong of Women Photograph
Climate action and urban resilience
Spirit of Toronto: our global headquarters
Connected. Sustainable. Impactful. Just some of the words from the brief for Avison Young’s new Toronto HQ.
Joe Almeida, Managing Director of Avison Young Ontario offices, shares his thoughts on the new downtown space, his favourite features and what kind of impact he hopes it will have on colleagues and visitors.
“The key takeaway for me is that this is so much more than a new HQ. It’s an investment in our people, in our strategy and in the future of our city and planet. It’s an opportunity for us to treat this as a ‘living lab’ making green and wellness initiatives visible and accessible; leaning into curiosity to inspire action.”
Part of the design challenge for Avison Young’s in-house Workplace and Brand teams was to create a space that is not only representative of the firm’s origins but also completely aligned with the evolving needs of their colleagues – connecting people with each other.
“We are a global firm, but we will always be proud of our Canadian roots. We want the spirit of Toronto to be omnipresent within our new HQ. Alongside custom brand illustrations representing our favourite Toronto landmarks, we’re creating ‘neighbourhoods’ in the floor plans that directly correspond with the 360-degree views from the office,” says Joe.
Connection is also at the heart of both the physical and digital experience for employees and visitors. The focal point as you enter the space is a stunning sculptural staircase, connecting the two floors. Also on entry, and throughout the space, are a variety of plants, bringing nature indoors, accompined by thoughtful branding and messaging throughout.
“It’s a brilliant example of how we’re walking the talk when it comes to supporting our occupier and landlord clients navigate their own net zero journeys.”
In 2022, Avison Young set a target to achieve net zero across all global workplaces by 2040. This means that every time the company has the opportunity to renew a lease or open a new office – sustainability becomes a critical component of the decision-making process. But brand new, state-of-the-art buildings aren’t the only option to consider.
“Almost 80% of buildings that exist today will still be here in 2050,” says Joe. “That’s one of the reasons we’ve chosen a building that you could consider an ‘older vintage’ for our new HQ. We are so proud to be able to demonstrate the real need for, and positive impact of repurposing spaces, retrofitting older buildings and refurbishing, reusing materials where possible to minimize waste.”
The recently retrofitted building, owned by Cadillac Fairview, is part of the largest complex in Canada to achieve WELL Core Certification, and puts a lot of emphasis on creating a vibrant, welcoming, safe and healthy environment for everyone who walks through the doors. This includes access to onsite childcare, health club and sport medicine clinic, electric vehicle charging, cycling care centre and four acres of outdoor green space.
From a sustainability perspective, the Avison Young team will be pursuing both LEED and WELL certifications for their own workspace – focusing on air quality, biophilia , natural light and energy use. “There is a real emphasis on inclusive design and the health and wellbeing of our people, because we know that is intrinsically linked to the health of our business,” said Joe.
“Even though not everyone will know or recognize the sustainability certification lingo – they will know that it feels different when they walk in. We hope that our people feel a sense of belonging, that they feel physically and mentally comfortable, inspired, healthier and more productive.”
We are also excited to welcome our clients into our new HQ – to experience the benefits of global health and wellness certifications for themselves, see the potential revitalizing older spaces and influence and inspire their own sustainability journeys,“ Joe added.