Creating a home for sustainability at evolv1

This guest post is by Tova Davidson, Executive Director, Sustainable Waterloo Region.

In 2013, when Sustainable Waterloo Region (SWR) reached out to our community in the development of our strategic plan, we asked: “What’s the next big thing be we should work on to move the needle on sustainability in our region?” Resoundingly, we heard the creation of a home for sustainability was a community vision.

We then embarked on a project that involved so many community partners, lots of consultation, and twists and turns. Today Sustainable Waterloo Region is proud of the partnerships we have formed with The Cora Group, David Johnston R+T Park, and EY Canada which has resulted in The Cora Group developing evolv1 – Canada’s first net-positive energy, multi-tenant office building.

Following that community vision of a “home for sustainability,” SWR’s focus in the past year has been on the creation of the evolvGREEN. evolvGREEN, an anchor tenant in evolv1, will create a unique space that benefits the people, the businesses of evolv1 and the environment. Again, we have been working in partnership with a number of community organizations – Accelerator Centre, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, to create this clean economy cluster development hub. This collaborative space will include many actions to build this sector in our region, including existing business transformation support through SWR’s programs, entrepreneurship of new cleantech companies, and research and innovation on all aspects of sustainable buildings – including the engagement of building citizens for the development of a culture of sustainability. These evolvGREEN partners are now also working with The Cora Group and other tenants, including EY Canada and TextNow to create a unique space that benefits the people, the businesses, and the environment.

There are a few things that have become evident along the journey of this project:

  1. Vision comes first – in the project development it was important to be sure that everyone was working toward the same vision.
  2. It is the work that matters – it matters more that the vision comes to life than anything else.
  3. Focus on the future – both evolv1 and the evolvGREEN are designed with the future impacts in mind, creating a stronger economy, community, and cleantech cluster.
  4. Sometimes you take the leap – there have been many times since we started these conversations in 2013 that the partners have had to take the leap forward together. These leaps can change the future.
  5. It takes partnership – there are so many groups we have worked with, and they all bring something specific to the project. All are valuable and we are now seeing the culmination of the commitment of so many.

We are so thankful for the partnerships that have brought this community vision, articulated in 2013, to life and especially to those we have worked most closely within its development and will continue to work within the building, fulfilling this now common, shared vision! And we have to say, the future looks bright.