Q&A RALF NIELSEN
Ralf Nielsen Principal and Director of Sustainability, Colliers Project Leaders.
How long has Colliers Project Leaders been an advocate for sustainable development? We have been advocates for sustainable development for almost a decade. Every two to three years, as the industry matures, we see our own role mature. In the early 2000s, as the Canada Green Building Council was being formed, we realized that we needed to advocate for a more holistic view of building and infrastructure performance, one that took into account the full building life cycle. In 2006, we made it mandatory for all of our project managers to gain their LEED® accreditation alongside their Project Management Professional certification. In 2008, we developed our first Sustainability Policy and began spreading the message that Sustainability is Free™. This essentially means that incorporating sustainability into the project life cycle comes at no net cost, and that it yields long-term dividends for our clients. In 2010, we began tracking our sustainability performance with indicators chosen from the Global Reporting Initiative. In 2011, we revised our Sustainability Policy to apply to the natural environment, our office environments, the materials we purchase, and the work we do in the community. In 2012, we published our first Corporate Sustainability Report. 24 | SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MAGAZINE
Can you tell us about your new Sustainability Impact Report? When we published the Colliers Project Leaders Sustainability Report we had several objectives in mind. We wanted to reflect on how far we’ve come over the last 10 years, and chart a course for where we want to go in the future. We wanted to engage stakeholders and staff on this issue, and discover how we can all innovate and support the transformation we know has to occur. Most of all, we wanted to ask important questions such as: Are we merely sustaining sustainability? Are we sustaining a system that is broken? At what points in our service delivery can we push a client’s project towards net zero? Ultimately, the Report helped us to identify how sustainability is evolving for our clients, and how our practices contribute to a sustainable future for our clients, employees, and the communities they serve. Have you been involved in any significant green projects recently? I have three examples to share. First, “significant” is a relative term. A project might be insignificant in terms of dollar value, but significant in terms of impact. It might even break new ground. We’ve been leading the replacement of 9,000 high-pressure sodium streetlights with new LED fixtures for the Public Utility Commission of