Here for You
After more than 45 years, Burlington Mall continues to stand tall as a place of refuge, relaxation and retail therapy within the community. A BOMA BEST® certified property; Winners of the 2015 Mayor’s Sustainable Green Business Award and 2014 Recycling Council of Ontario Silver Award, the Riocan REIT shopping centre is led by a proactive, fluid and innovative team focused on and driven by social and environmental responsibility.
In October 1968, the suburban shopping experience was born in Burlington, Ontario. A city landmark and communal meeting place for over four decades, Burlington Mall has gone through a host of structural and operational changes. This 778,800 square foot facility consists of one level of retail and an office mezzanine and major retails include: Hudson’s Bay, Old Navy, Sport Chek, Canadian Tire, HomeSense and Winners. Burlington Mall has been successful in finding a balance by blending consumerism with sustainability and social responsibility.
Operations Manager of the property since 2006, Paul Carvalho immediately began to evaluate the shopping centre’s recycling, waste management and sustainability efforts. The hard work has paid off considerably, as they have successfully increased their diversion rate from 30% in 2007 to 56% since their last audit in June 2014.
“With the measurement criteria for diversion and capture rates continuously evolving on a regular basis, it forces us to evolve with the specifications in order to maximize the effectiveness our program. By doing so we have achieved an 80% capture rate. ” Carvalho said. “We recycle everything from plastics to coffee grounds to skids – we consider everything. It’s a widespread involvement.”
Home to over 100 tenants, 900 employees, eight management members, a security team and a maintenance crew, Burlington Mall’s vision for a greener, cleaner property and management objective extends beyond just operations. Marketing Manager, Kim LaRonde fully embraces and supports the movement and initiatives being put in place.
“The green practices, reach out into all areas,” she said. “A lot of our property tours by security are done on bicycles. Our maintenance team uses green-cleaning products and our landscapers don’t use pesticides on site.”
“Many of our merchants, such as Canadian Tire, take back batteries and lighting tubes,” she continued. “Once you investigate one area, it leads to other opportunities so everything from the cooking oils in the food court to coffee grounds are part of the program; everything is up for grabs and up for discussion.”
RECYCLING COUNCIL OF ONTARIO AWARD
This unique vision towards a more utilitarian experience is a far-cry from the traditional economic centric shopping center. With a vision towards a greener way of operating, Burlington Mall’s recognition by the Recycling Council of Ontario stretches back to 2009 when the programs first began.
“From an industry standpoint, we have been recognized for our involvement and initiatives devoted to systems and programs that contribute to sustainability,” Carvalho said. “In 2009 we were recycling pet waste. In 2012 we introduced a satellite monitoring central control system for all irrigation on the property and most recently have upgraded much or our lighting to LED and introduced further organic recycling programs.”
Carvalho understands the importance and impact that constant development and buy-in from all individuals has on the successful implementation of the programs.
“We tweak it every now and then for different items that come into the waste field, such as what type of garbage is being generated, and what kind of recycling materials are being produced,” he said. “Our participation is not limited to solely the management team; the tenants buy-in into the program has been nothing short of miraculous.”
“It’s very difficult in the retail environment to try and get buy-in into certain some programs because it always involves manpower, something above and beyond what they’d normally do,” Carvalho continued. “And, due to the seasonality of retail staffing it is challenging to continuously communicate and educate in order to maximize commitment and work towards our goal of increasing diversion rate by 5% each year.”
Characterized as a snowball effect, LaRonde admits the buy-in from merchants is a crucial point of assimilation and success.
“Continuous communication and sharing of success is key,” she said. “Our back hallways are lined with bins and we have specific labeling for them, so all the merchants know where to take their waste/recyclables and how to sort them. The buy in from them is critical. We police it, we help them, we provide them with the tools they need and we communicate with them on a regular basis.”
“It takes a lot of constant communication to make the program work,” she continued. “Right now our merchants not only recycle products that come through their stores, but we have green waste, Styrofoam waste, e-waste, their packaging is all sorted by waste – their light bulbs, batteries, furniture – everything that comes through their store that we can collect, we do.”
Winning the award brings not only justification of a continued job well done, but also serves as a notice to the external community that Burlington Mall is doing their part to keep the property clean, green and running efficiently.
“We are a community mall and are recognized as such,” LaRonde said. “It makes us a strong corporate citizen, and it helps us to be recognized for local awards; like the mayor’s green sustainability award.”
“This award recognizes us for the outstanding efforts and leadership shown in the areas of sustainability and for contributions made to the Burlington community” she continued. “We appreciate the tenants’ participation, and being recognized with awards like this is critical to us. These awards demonstrate that working together, we can make significant change.”
SHARING IS CARING
The proven track record of success earned by Burlington Mall and associated merchants are heightened by the sense of unity and support across the entire workforce – even those behind the scenes.
“It’s critical for us to make sure that everyone that we involve ourselves with buys into the culture we’re promoting here,” Carvalho said. “From our HVAC contractors, to our maintenance and security teams, to our waste haulers, even the folks that we contract out on an annual basis to resurface our parking lot.”
“The sharing of success is the key. People like to work with teams that are successful. Once you get that under your belt, it’s a much easier sell,” LaRonde continued. “It’s a community within a community. It feels like a family. We’ve been here for a long time and the community owns us.”
The collective purpose on display within Burlington Mall also extends towards advancements on the aging facility.
“Our building environmental system is a bit of a mule,” Carvalho said. “Because of its age, it requires our building operators to take ownership of how to control it. It gets a little cumbersome at times. Kudos to the individuals who are involved in this – monitor it, tweak it and keep adjusting it, so it’s a manual function that regulates when the lights come on and go off, they do their own assessment of the physical atmosphere inside the building. That is critical to making sure that the savings are up.”
“It’s a two-way street,” he continued. “Their opinions are very highly regarded and it helps to nurture the relationships, and we take that very seriously. You know the old adage, practice what you preach. That is what we’re all about.”
As expansion and growth continue, Burlington Mall will encourage growth and the creation of new formats through a new phase of re-merchandizing that will help valued merchants move forward with their business strategies in larger, more spacious surroundings.
“That’s in the beginning stages,” LaRonde said. “This will open the door to other spaces where we can invite other people to join us. We are moving forward, growing and looking at new exciting opportunities. There are a lot of things coming up and we’re really looking forward to it.”
While the proliferation of online shopping and in-app purchases has the ability to dilute the allure of the shopping mall experience, Burlington Mall is thriving thanks to the connection, interaction and goodwill of all the people pitching in to make a difference.
“It’s a partnership,” LaRonde said. “There is a connection and it’s got more to do than just dollars. Even though we’re an older mall we have been able to achieve some amazing results. We continue to demonstrate a commitment to improving the health and environment and engaging with all of our stake holders: tenants, staff, shoppers and community. It’s a continuous endeavour; relationships need to be worked on every day.”