Q+A With The Forks – Environment + Energy Finalists

February 13, 2020

Every year over four million visitors take up one of the over 275 community events each year put on by The Forks. Whether this be shopping at The Forks Market, some form of recreation on the 52-acres of green space or simply grabbing a bite to eat! But with so many visitors, also comes a lot of waste. Which is where The Forks Target Zero comes in. The Forks actively works toward reducing its impact the earth’s climate. Taking every action they can to implement  innovative and responsible environmental practices.

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Q1 – When did your idea/innovation to start your action occur? How did it come to you?

In 2007 two things happened – through public consultations we were asked by the community to begin showing better environmental leadership and, for the first time, we received an energy bill for The Forks Market for over $500,000.So after some extensive research and running the numbers, in 2010 when our old HVAC units needed replacing, we spent $2.1 million converting the 100-year-old Forks Market building to a geothermal heating and cooling system.

This has saved us over $200,000 per year in heating and cooling costs – nearly paying for itself almost 10 years later, while also lowering our greenhouse gas emissions by about 1,000 metric tonnes each year – from 1,179 in 2005 to 210 in 2019.

Q2 – What do you credit with your success?
Saving money. We call it “where the two greens meet” – where environmental sustainability meets financial sustainability. This is the lens though which we filter all of our operational decisions – and we’ve landed on many ways to make environmentally sustainable choices that also make the most sense for our bottom line.

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Q3 – What excites you about what you do?

It’s exciting to be a leader in the community – locally and beyond Winnipeg – and sharing our story of how simple the shift can be, and how much sense it can make from an environmental AND financial perspective.

Some examples:

  1. In 2010 our old HVAC system required replacing. Instead of replacing it with an HVAC system, which at the time was generating 1,179 metric tonnes of green house gas (GHG) annually, we invested $2.1 million in converting the 100-year-old Market building to geothermal heading and cooling, which, in 2019 has nearly become cost neutral, and has helped reduce our annual GHG emissions by over 1,000 metric tonnes.
  2. Our site equipment (Kabotas, truck, Bobcats, and Olympic Ice Resurfacer aka Zamboni) is retrofit to run on used vegetable oil from our restaurant tenants’ deep fryers – this saves us over $11,000 in fuel annually, while also reducing carbon emissions.

Q4 – What does Winnipeg mean to you?
Given our location in the very heart of Winnipeg, and our deeply rooted historic connection to the people who have been meeting, travelling and trading in this place for centuries, the city and its history means a great deal to us. This city is full of creative ideas – that have brought us things like 10 years of the international Warming Huts art and architecture competition; outstanding makers, restauranteurs and entrepreneurs that make The Forks Market a totally unique and local shopping or dining experience, and the orchestrators of countless events that make each day interesting at The Forks.

Q5 – Who do you want to inspire? We want to inspire the world to see ways to operate that are both sustainable and financially responsible. There’s a way to do this that works.

Get to meet all the finalists and hear their stories at our 11th Annual Spirit of Winnipeg Awards. Celebrate the great work The Shameless Circle and many other businesses are doing across Winnipeg. Tickets still available! ​​


11TH ANNUAL SPIRIT OF WINNIPEG
​AWARDS GALA
Friday, March 6, 2020
5:15 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Club Regent Event Centre