Food & Beverage Manitoba backs up sustainability advocacy with move to eco-friendly office space

An advocate of sustainable business practices, Food & Beverage Manitoba was looking for a way to back up its words with actions.

That opportunity recently presented itself when a unique, eco-friendly office space came available at  245 McDermot Avenue in the Exchange District.

“It was an opportunity we couldn’t turn down,” says F & B Manitoba’s executive director, Mike Mikulak. “It was a perfect fit for us. When Creative Manitoba notified us of the availability, and we jumped at the chance to get in.”

Located on the third floor of a historic warehouse building in the heart of the Exchange, the office space is part of Creative Manitoba.

The organization’s executive director, Thom Sparling, says the eco-friendly office space dates to the early 2000’s, when Paul Martin served as Canada’s Prime Minister.

“Back then, it was a co-work/shared office space that was created by a forward-thinking Indigenous group,” he says. “It was used as a center for environment research, but was shut down when the Harper government came to power.”

When the space came available, Creative Manitoba acquired it and then – led by Sparling – had it renovated to make it as eco-friendly as a early twentieth century building could be.

“The insulation is recycled material, which the trim is a compressed straw board that’s the same as the trim that was used in the Canada Life Center when it was built,” he says. “All the drywall is made from recycled material, low CFC paints were used on the walls, the old windows were replaced with double glazed low-e argon windows, and we put in a beam and pillar to make a clear span space.”

As significant as those design features are, its waste disposal system – two composting toilets in the washroom on the fourth floor – is its most significant sustainable feature, adds Sparling.

“Sewer output was limited due to the age of the sewer system – it’s more than a century old,” he notes. “It just made sense to put in composting toilets.”

The decision was an eco-friendly stroke of genius.

Not only do the two toilets eliminate 98 per cent of the effluent leaving the building, but they serve some 70 people without missing a beat.

“The two toilets manage all waste,” says Sparling. “And the compost is a viable fertilizer. As much as the various eco-friendly materials make the building healthier and more efficient, the composing toilets make the biggest environmental impact.”

Needless to say, Mikulak and his team at Food and Beverage Manitoba are enjoying their new headquarters.

“We love the sustainable design theme with all the materials and composting toilets,” he says. “But more than that, we’re excited to be part of downtown renewal. We also love being close to our partners – the Prairie Research Kitchen, Economic Development Winnipeg, both Chambers, the World Trade Center and the United Way.”

Moreover, the Prairie Research Kitchen – and a host of great restaurants – are just minutes away.

“It’s so much easier to work with partners on recipes being so close to the Kitchen, and quick access to great restaurants makes it so much easier to get to meetings, and events,” Mikulak says. “Everyone here  loves working in a sustainable, healthy workspace that’s in a location that fits our needs perfectly.”