Providing housing means we become an integral part of a community. And being involved in a community means our responsibility to that community — and to all the communities in which we live and work — does not end at the end of our sidewalk.
We see sustainability as part of our Duty of Care, one of the core values at Avenue Living. We make the promise to our residents, investors, and employees to provide residences and workplaces that allow them to "live safely, live comfortably, and live responsibly." Creating healthy, inviting spaces for people to inhabit, whether as their residence, as social spaces, or even as workplaces, has become an important part of what we do.
"As a company, it's front of mind knowing that we play a large role in our communities — our buildings make up a large percentage of the overall community," says Louise Elsey, Chief Operating Officer of Avenue Living Communities. "So, it's important that we're ambassadors for change and ambassadors for good. It's something that personally I'm invested in, and I bring it to work every day. It rubs off on people."
Sustainability in Our Suites
Existing construction is almost always "greener" than new builds, according to a study by U.S.-based National Trust for Historic Preservation. As we invest in existing B and C class multi-family residential buildings, we make a point of upgrading their systems to be more efficient whenever possible. That can mean adding in low-flow fixtures to reduce water consumption, updating furnaces and roof insulation, and installing energy-efficient fixtures and bulbs. The updates we make to our buildings make economic, as well as environmental sense — and they make our suites more comfortable for our residents who live there.
We also know our impact comes from actions we take every day. So, we look at advancements in operational processes such as local recycling programs, and we mandate our cleaning service providers use eco-friendly products.
The physical environments we create are a major part of how we bring value to our residents, employees and investors. When we create spaces people want to live in, homes that are safe, efficient and comfortable, we're contributing to the health of the surrounding community.
Outside our own doors however, we make an effort to support communities in other ways. For example, Avenue Living Communities has donated to not-for-profit and social agencies, including over 17 local food banks or similar organizations in 2020 alone, and other initiatives such as Ride Don't Hide for the Canadian Mental Health Association. And our involvement in the community has spilled over in other ways— such as how Avenue Living employees have established community gardens at select properties, which have brought our residents together in amazing ways.
COVID-19 Pandemic and PPE
The pandemic provided us with a unique opportunity to incorporate sustainability and advocate for public health safety for all our employees. We took a proactive approach to ensure that first and foremost, we looked after our employees. We were able to apply hourly raises on the front-line and will sustain these increases indefinitely.
In July, we offered every member of the Avenue Living team an additional $15 onto their paycheque to be used towards the purchase of reusable masks. Up to this point, all team members had been provided with disposable PPE. Had we continued with disposable PPE, in particular face masks, the environmental impact would have been significant – in Q3 alone, we would have needed 35,000 disposable masks to keep our employees safe. Our reusable mask program had financial benefits too — reducing what would have been a $21k spend per quarter.
Planning for the Future
Achieving sustainability is a process made up of acts both big and small, in our workplaces and buildings, and in the broader community. It's made up of acts that reduce our environmental impact, and acts that enhance the social fabric of our community. We're always looking for ways to tie our actions back to our core values — to keep our residents, investors and employees safe, healthy, and connected, and be the clear choice for where to call home.