We hear a lot about sustainability these days but at Shaw Centre, it’s far more than just a buzzword. When our facility was still in the planning phase, a commitment to sustainable operations was one of the key design principles and that foresight is paying impressive dividends today. Our board, the architect, the builders and the engineers shared a powerful vision as they crafted a strategy to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold certification. This is a particularly impressive feat for a facility of this size, and it’s a key selling point as many clients are consciously seeking eco-friendly venues.
Shaw Centre is a pioneer in the field of sustainable operations. We have tools in place to measure an event’s carbon footprint, allowing clients to understand the true cost of their event, at a very detailed level. For example, we can weigh cardboard used, calculate waste generated, measure water, electricity and energy consumption and more. Having this data helps us track our progress, and it also encourages us to continually refine our operations, increase our waste diversion and use automation technology to reduce our use of electricity, heating and cooling.
While we endeavour to produce as little food waste as possible, Shaw Centre’s kitchen also relies on its onsite ORCA, a state of the art machine that can digest up to 600 pounds (275 kilograms) of food scraps per day. Within 24 hours, the ORCA turns kitchen by-products into environmentally safe grey water, diverting tons of material each month from methane-producing composting or landfill sites.
Shaw Centre also saves approximately 225,000 gallons of water each year by harvesting rainwater and storing it in a cistern below the building. The collected rainwater is then pumped back for the building’s greywater needs including toilets and landscaping irrigation, when needed.
Another initiative of which we are extremely proud is our new Leave a Legacy program. At the conclusion of an event, if clients so choose, we ensure that any salvageable materials being left behind are delivered to their charity of choice. It might be as simple as donating extra tote bags and scratch pads, or as complex as some of last year’s biggest donations, including the distribution of over 100,000 pounds of perishable and non-perishable food to the Ottawa and Gatineau Food Banks at the end of the Loblaw national conference. Similarly, after the Ottawa-Gatineau International Auto show, almost 20,000 square metres of gently-used carpeting was donated to the Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa ReStore. We also helped Pharmasave make a generous donation to the Ottawa Food Bank and Cornerstone Women’s Shelter, in the form of a truckload of household products, clothing, personal hygiene and toiletry items. In addition, we recently expanded our Leave a Legacy program to include consumable food products. Our new Tablée des Chefs program offers clients the option to have surplus food from their event donated promptly to organizations feeding people in need.
While there are costs associated with running our facility in a highly sustainable manner, we believe those costs to be worthwhile. At Shaw Centre, no detail is too small, from motion-activated lighting to plant-based cups at the watercoolers to biodegradable plates and cutlery. When people visit this beautiful building there is always a ‘wow’ reaction, and when they find out how eco-friendly we are, that just adds to our venue’s appeal.