Minto: After 60 years in Canada, it’s not a coincidence. It’s a plan.
What does it take to win the coveted title of Ontario Home Builders Association (OHBA) Builder of the Year twice in three years? Try innovation, ingenuity and community engagement. With a company-wide commitment to all three, it’s no surprise Minto is about wrap its most successful year yet.
For the second time since 2012, the OHBA awarded Minto the Builder of the Year award, recognizing outstanding professionalism and integrity within the business, industry and community. The result of a culmination of an incredible run of success for the family-owned business, the award also recognizes outstanding green innovation leadership.
With record-breaking sales and an ever-expanding portfolio of leading edge green communities, Minto is proving that a focus on sustainability is fundamental to building a better business.
“We want to change the way that people think about building communities. We want to deliver products that the customer can depend on, that are more sustainable, and have great value. A record-breaking year of sales, and the honour of being named OHBA Builder of the Year, tells us that we’re on the right path,” says Daniel Bélanger, Senior Vice President, GTA.
In a year full of noteworthy high-rise and low-rise projects, the highlights begin with the unprecedented launch of Minto Longbranch. With over 330 sales and 8,000 registrants in less than one year, Longbranch is the most successful debut in the company’s history. The numbers are a testament to Minto’s decision to re-introduce affordability along Toronto’s iconic Lakeshore West in the Long Branch neighbourhood.
In North Oshawa, Minto Kingmeadow was singled out as the Community of the Year by The Durham Region Home Builders Association, and new releases were ramped up to keep pace with surging demand. Minto Orchard Park was another notable success, selling 262 homes in less than one year.
But success can be measured by more than just sales. To date, Minto has qualified over 2,600 low rise homes under the ENERGY STAR® standard. Following a commitment in 2005 to build high rise homes to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, Minto built the largest LEED for Homes Silver community in Canada. In 2009, Minto built the largest LEED Gold certified condo in North America, raising the bar for subsequent developments.
“Building high quality and more sustainable communities is at the heart of what we do,” says Dave Stewart, President of Minto Communities, Canada.
In 2014, Minto775 was the first building to meet the Tier 2 requirements of the Toronto Green Standard, a voluntary certification designed to help reduce the environmental impact of buildings in the City by reducing energy consumption and light pollution, improving storm water management, and improving waste diversion during construction. Some of the standout features in the residential project include rainwater harvesting bird friendly glazing, high energy and water efficiency, and heat recovery systems that bring fresh clean air directly in to suites.
Sustainability touches every element of Minto’s corporate culture, from reducing operational energy consumption, to having as many “green” elements as possible in the communities that it builds. Based in Ottawa, Minto’s corporate headquarters at 180 Kent became the building with the single most LEED certifications in Canada this year – thanks to work with commercial tenants to certify their own spaces. The 20-storey commercial building was also the first and largest LEED® Platinum Core and Shell office tower in Canada.
Entering the gleaming office tower, a luscious green wall in the public atrium hints to the building’s sustainable design, and is paired with a green roof and electric vehicle charging stations. But some of the most impressive features are hidden from view, for example, a regenerative elevator harnesses energy from its own momentum to pump back into the power grid and rainwater harvested from the roof is used to flush toilets on the buildings’ top four floors.
And the company holds itself accountable: Minto’s annual sustainability reports are made publically available. In a rare and progressive corporate initiative, environmental performance is a significant element of annual executive compensation.
“We’re constantly striving to improve by introducing new ideas to make the next project even better than the last,” says Brent Strachan, Senior Vice President, Ottawa. “For the past 60 years our focus has been on creating value for our customers through delivering well built, energy efficient homes in thoughtfully designed communities. That vision becomes more vivid with every project that we build. It represents our past and present and it is our enduring goal for the future.”
From land acquisition to building occupancy, sustainability is the first and last thought in every building that Minto brings to market. As part of employee development, junior as well as senior employees are encouraged to become LEED accredited professionals.
Minto’s leadership in construction has not gone unnoticed; previously, Minto won the OHBA Green Builder of the Year award in 2008, 2010 and 2011 after continuously delivering environmentally friendly building designs, leading-edge waste management strategies, a strong internal culture and support of the sustainable building industry. In 2012 the criteria for the Green Builder of the Year award were incorporated into the Home Builder of the Year award, with Minto being awarded the prestigious title in that year.
“It all starts with a simple question. What can we do to design a product that will have mass appeal, but still emphasizes quality, still emphasizes the environment and still puts the purchasers and communities first,” says Amanda Wilson Watkins, Vice President of Marketing and Sales.
This reputation for sustainable building is why Minto was selected to build five zero energy homes as part of Natural Resource Canada’s ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative (ecoEII). By building leading-edge homes Minto aims to explore ways to bring affordable zero-energy homes to the market, reflecting the company’s boundary-pushing approach to sustainable building.
“We are constantly thinking about what’s next: what we’ll be doing three, five, and ten years from now to progress the future of green building,” says Alison Minato, VP of Sustainability.
Looking towards the future, Minato says Minto is turning its attention beyond the physical building structure, to developing communities that are more walkable, that integrate park space, that allow parking for bikes, and that are nearby to transit.
“If you want to be successful in steering your corporate culture towards a focus on sustainability, it’s important to understand and accept that it’s a balancing act. You can’t change everything all at once,” says Minato. “Figure out what you can do, and innovate on that.”
The year ahead looks bright for Minto with no signs of slowing down. Anticipated launches across the GTA include Minto Westside, arriving at the corner of Toronto’s Front and Bathurst, and Minto Queen’s Landing, a new community that will make its home in the lush countryside of accessible East Gwillimbury. The recent launch of Minto Yorkville Park, in Toronto’s prestigious Yorkville neighbourhood, saw phenomenal sales of its opening release, illustrating the remarkable project demand. The boutique 25-storey condominium tower builds on Minto’s impressive legacy in Yorkville and is set to become Minto’s fifteenth LEED project.
About the Minto Group:
The Minto Group is a family-owned, fully integrated real estate development, construction and management company with operations in Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and South Florida.
The Minto Group has built more than 70,000 new homes, manages more than 17,000 residential rental homes and apartments, and carries a commercial portfolio of more than 2.5 million square feet of office, retail and industrial space.
In addition to these holdings, the company owns and operates Canada’s largest portfolio of executive furnished suites
For more information visit www.minto.com.