Forward-thinking projects benefitting from sharp demand for environmentally sound office space
Excerpt from the Globe & Mail, originally published on Tuesday, August 1, 2006
By Terrence Belford
Nobody ever called Rudy Bratty a tree hugger. For the past four decades, his family company, Remington Group Inc., has been in the forefront of real estate development in the Greater Toronto Area, building everything from skyscrapers to single family houses. He readily admits preserving the environment just was not a consideration during many of those years.
Today, however, Mr. Bratty admits to a conversion of sorts. With his new $3-billion project northeast of Toronto, he has embraced green with fervour. Called Downtown Markham, all 243 acres of it will be the largest LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) project to date in Canada.
At the same time, Downtown Markham is going green in another direction -- this time it is the green of dollars. Commercial tenant demand for environmentally sound office space is booming. A decision made in part from a desire to leave a legacy has proved to have a major financial benefit as well.
"I have three triple-A tenants lining up to take space, and each of them is looking for more than 100,000 square feet of space," said Mr. Bratty, Remington's Chairman and CEO. "There is a tremendous demand from major corporations, especially public companies, which want to be seen as promoting environmental protection."
When completed 10 years down the road, Downtown Markham will be home to between 4 and 4.5 million square feet of new commercial space (plus 3,900 condominiums and townhouses). All will be built to the LEED rating system standards overseen by the Canada Green Building Council.
But Mr. Bratty has not stopped there. His team is rebuilding an old waterway and reconnecting it to the Rouge River Valley to replenish fish stocks. He has also signed a deal with Markham District Energy Inc. to provide environmentally friendly heating and air conditioning to the commercial towers and 175 townhouses, another Canadian first.
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