The Centre for Sustainable Development opens its doors

Montreal, October 6, 2011 - The Centre for Sustainable Development, the first commercial building in the downtown core of a major Canadian city to seek LEED Platinum certification in the category of new construction, was inaugurated today by its eight socially and environmentally minded member organizations and their donor partners. “We beat the odds!” marvels chair Sidney Ribaux. The construction site has given way to an environmental and technological showcase in the heart of Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles. It is a place where organizations can meet and share ideas with the public.

“The Centre for Sustainable Development is an ambitious project that owes its existence to a large community of sustainability leaders working together,” says Mr. Ribaux, who is also executive director of Équiterre. Its aim is to create a true synergy between its founding members: the French-Canadian Amnesty International Division, Le Petit réseau daycare, the Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal, ENvironnement JEUnesse,  Équiterre, Option consommateurs, the Regroupement national des conseils régionaux de l’environnement du Québec and Vivre en Ville.

Public activities and programming

“Now that construction is finished, we are working on our programming, both for the general public and sustainability stakeholders. I’m pleased to invite you, on behalf of all our members, to our week-long Open House, beginning on October 17,” says Mr. Ribaux. In addition to presentations by Steven Guilbeault of Équiterre, Béatrice Vaugrante of Amnesty International, cardiologist Dr. François Reeves and eco-sociologist Laure Waridel, there will be films (Home and Sagacité), tours of the building, workshops, a “5 à 7”, games, and samples of fair trade and organic products. These free activities reflect the areas in which the member organizations are active: e.g., sustainable transportation, climate change, microcredit, urban planning and fair trade.

The Centre will also host several other major events this fall, including the Interactive Sustainability for Leaders course by Natural Step Canada, the Provincial Climate Leadership Conference (Climate Action Network Canada), an awareness-raising event for Quebec businesses (1% for the Planet), and Amnesty International’s letter-writing marathon on International Human Rights Day.

Partners show their true colours: Green

Mr. Pierre Morin, President of Alcoa Canada, the project’s main partner, as well as representatives of the other major partners – Mr. Pierre Arcand, Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Mr. Gérald Tremblay, Mayor of Montreal, Mr. Robert Dutton, President and CEO of RONA and Mr. Thierry Vandal, President and CEO of Hydro-Québec –,officially inaugurated the site alongside other supporters and in the presence of Mes Aïeux, the project’s musical ambassador.

The Centre for Sustainable Development is a $27-million project that has also benefitted from substantial support from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy, Bell, Gaz Métro, the Mouvement des caisses Desjardins, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the EJLB Foundation, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, lg2, Cascades, Gaz Métro, the Borough of Ville-Marie, Carat, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Pomerleau, Redcliff Métivier, the SAQ, Transcontinental Inc., the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology, as well as many other donors. “By supporting this project, these partners showed their green colours,” explains Ribaux.

Green building

“The building itself is quite remarkable. It’s a perfect balance between architectural and environmental considerations, offering users an unusually high level of well-being while protecting the environment,” explains the Centre’s architect, Anik Shooner of the firm MENKÈS SHOONER DAGENAIS LETOURNEUX Architectes.

“The Centre for Sustainable Development is one of the most energy-efficient office buildings in Quebec. We paid particular attention to the choice of materials and to the environmental management of energy, water and waste, as well as to social issues,” adds Ribaux.

The building is equipped with a geothermal heating and cooling system, a high-performance thermal envelope, triple-pane windows, and an approximately 800m2 green roof. The project planners surpassed the LEED requirements with the addition, for example, of an approximately 38m2 living wall, by using a social insertion company, Boulot vers, to build the kitchen cabinets and some furniture, and by using wood recovered from river bottoms to cover the railings on the staircase and the landing.

True to form, the Centre for Sustainable Development also obtained permission from the city not to provide the parking spaces that would otherwise have been required by law.

“Thank you to the visionary team that worked on this project. We hope that the Centre for Sustainable Development will inspire developers to pursue projects with a reduced environmental footprint,” concludes Mr. Ribaux.  

About the Centre for Sustainable Development

Eight socially and environmentally minded organizations united to create the Centre for Sustainable Development, a demonstration green building whose mission is to inspire everyone from property developers to the general public to embrace sustainability.

The Centre for Sustainable Development offers a place to meet and share ideas, both for its members and the public. Its boardrooms are available for rent, as is the Atrium, an open space with a living wall and a window that spans all five storeys. The rooftop terrace will open in spring 2012. For reservations, visit

To consult the program and to find out more about the Centre for Sustainable Development, please see

High-resolution photos of this event are available upon request.


Amélie Ferland, Centre for Sustainable Development