Oxford Properties Group’s 111 Richmond Street West was designated a Heritage Building by the Ontario Heritage Act in 2000 because of its historically significant architecture and design by Peter Dickinson.
Now it has been awarded The Outstanding Building of the Year (TOBY) Award for historic buildings by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada (BOMA).
“Oxford’s been successful in renovating this building and modernizing the infrastructure, yet retaining the original appearance of the exterior and also maintaining the original lobby, entranceway and elevators,” said Oxford general manager Angelo Potkidis.
“For a 60-year-old building of this size, it certainly would have been easier to demolish it and build from scratch. As a result of the work that Oxford did, we were successful in being able to retain some pretty high-profile tenants, namely Google, MNP and Aimia. Those are three of the largest tenants.”
The 16-storey building is part of downtown Toronto’s Richmond-Adelaide Centre. It has 211,638 square feet of office space, 10,770 square feet of retail space and one level of parking below grade. It has direct access to the underground pedestrian PATH network that leads to the subway system and a variety of shops and amenities.
A redevelopment completed in 2012 included: installation of new double-glazed windows that maintain the pattern, colour and profile of the originals; the cleaning and repair of exterior limestone cladding and the exterior entrance canopy; and the restoration of the lobby, which had been dramatically altered in the 1980s, to its original condition.
The mechanical systems were also completely overhauled, resulting in a LEED Gold CS certification in 2013, a BOMA BEST Platinum certification in 2014 and a BOMA Certificate of Excellence in 2015.
The building is heated by an Enwave steam system automatically controlled and sequenced based on the outside air temperature. It’s cooled by Enwave’s deep lake water cooling system, which was installed in 2006.
It uses 90 per cent less electricity than on-site chillers, reduces thermal discharge from power plants to the lake, reduces air pollution, reduces carbon dioxide emissions, eliminates ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, eliminates cooling towers and improves water efficiency.
Management personnel have annual business plans that are tied to performance targets for the building. To help employees enhance their skills, improve their performance and advance their careers, Oxford reimburses them for successfully attending courses and seminars related to their current job or proposed career path.
“Green teams” meet three times a year
“Green teams” including real estate management representatives and tenants meet three times a year.
“We encourage participation from all of our tenants to not only find out what Oxford is doing on a larger scope but what they’re doing in their own spaces to encourage green building and energy efficiency,” said Oxford assistant property manager Megan Reid.
“We have a huge recycling program where we encourage waste diversion.”
The building participates in the Fatal Light Awareness Program. Through building automation and tenant awareness, 111 Richmond Street West has been able to reduce the number of lights on after working hours and become less of a threat to birds that use the moon and stars to navigate their migration routes in the spring.
Management also makes tenants aware of charitable functions, including the annual Salvation Army toy drive and Yonge Street Mission clothing drive, as well as Earth Week activities, a yoga program, flu shot clinics, customer appreciation events and more.
High customer satisfaction
Building customers were surveyed in May 2014 and 111 Richmond Street West scored a 100 per cent overall satisfaction rate while 99 per cent of those surveyed said they would recommend to their employer that they stay there.
Temperature management and increasing the frequency of daytime washroom checks were at the top of the list of services to be improved, and they were addressed in an action plan communicated to customers.
“We always make a point of engaging with our customers and talking to them about various subjects, sustainability being one of them,” said Potkidis. “We also meet with them proactively on a formal basis at least twice a year minimum to talk about how business is going, how we’re performing for them, if there are new things that we can do for them, and if they have new expectations that we can work towards fulfilling for them.”
(Images from the Oxford Properties website.)