By Aisling Dennett
Even as an international law firm with a presence in numerous countries and jurisdictions, Gowling WLG is still deeply rooted in the communities they serve. This is exemplified by their Waterloo Region location, which has been part of the community for over 30 years.
As a member of Sustainable Waterloo Region since 2018, the firm has committed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and diverting waste, all while enriching our community. To help do so, they started with one of the biggest investments an organization can make: their physical space. When Gowling WLG was looking for a new Waterloo Region location in 2021, they chose to move into a LEED Gold certified building to have a maximum impact on their carbon footprint.
They have leveraged this sustainable foundation to create interior spaces that are not only optimized for energy efficiency, but occupant well-being. The design also provides opportunities for lawyers and staff to make an impact every day with lighting sensors, climate controls, and a rainwater retention system that can be used for grey water in the building.
The firm’s new Waterloo Region space, located in downtown Kitchener, dispels one of the biggest myths in sustainable architecture – that a focus on energy efficiency means a sacrifice in occupant comfort. The truth is actually quite the opposite. Studies have shown that energy-conscious workspaces lead to increased productivity, and it is easy to understand why. With 133 plants in the interior of the office, and more to be added on an outdoor terrace, employees have a space that not only supports the natural environment around them, but brings that feeling inside as well. Even a push to reduce plastic bottle use has brought a more luxurious alternative, with on-site cold filtered still and sparkling water now available.
Gowling WLG’s sustainability focus goes beyond their new Waterloo Region building. How lawyers and staff get to work each day and travel for business can have an impact on one’s carbon footprint. That’s why Gowling WLG has presented several new options for transportation and remote working, including:
- Office proximity to Kitchener’s Central Light Rail Station & future transit hub which will offer access to multiple modes of transportation
- Offering discounted Grand River Transit via their TravelWise membership
- Work from home policy allowing firm members to work remotely up to 50% of the time
- Controlled access to underground secured bike parking & 4 private shower rooms
- Seven electric vehicle charging station in the secure access underground parking garage
Reducing waste has also been an important goal for the firm, and Gowling WLG has made significant operational changes on this front, too. A new paperless billing system, removal of vending machines, decreasing the number of on-site printers, and switching to recyclable and compostable coffee supplies have all contributed to a reduction in waste production. An upgrade in the firm’s waste management services has included the addition of green bins and a more comprehensive recycling program, so they can divert as much as possible.
We are so proud to have Gowling WLG as part of our Impact Network (IN), a program that facilitates setting voluntary reduction targets in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGS), waste, water, and waste diversion. We understand that every organization’s sustainability journey is different, and our milestones provide a customized approach to inspire action and support transformation in organizations of varying size and industry.
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