Laying the groundwork

for sustainable

REAL estate

Rosalyn Wallace learned her first lessons in sustainability as a child working in a family business that sold produce in two small markets in Canada.

She’s carried those lessons into her role as Magna vice president of real estate and construction, where she oversees the day-to-day management of a portfolio of over 600 properties in 27 countries, as well as participating in the portfolio’s strategic development.

“Early on, I learned it’s good for the environment to buy from local farmers because you are reducing the footprint of logistics and travel costs,” Wallace said. “Today, I want my daughter Rileigh to understand that food doesn’t come from a grocery store, it comes from a farm. Even though she’s only 8, she understands what it takes to grow food and get that food.”

Wallace’s corporate sustainability strategy is put in equally simple terms: “If a building doesn’t work in an efficient way, it could put the operations at an unnecessary disadvantage.”

She adds: “Sustainable initiatives can also lead to savings at the divisional, group and corporate level, whether it’s a new facility, expansion or building improvements.”

Her 17-member team, which is comprised of 60 percent women, is part of a newly formed global task force that will examine what sustainability means from a real-estate perspective for Magna operations. The team will study best practices from Magna divisions and other industries.

“We can generate new ideas and share those ideas with our internal teams and divisions,” Wallace said. “Collaboration and communication are the key to making sure we do the right things.”

Rosalyn Wallace, Magna vice president of real estate and construction and her daughter Rileigh 

Best Practices:

Magna’s ‘Green’ Buildings

Magna people are working in offices and facilities that are becoming dedicated to sustainability.

These eco-friendly buildings can create positive impacts on our climate and natural environment – from design, construction and operation.

Here are some inspirational examples:

Magna Untergruppenbach, Germany:

So scenic are the grounds around this building that it has become a destination for local residents, who come to admire the waterfalls, Japanese koi pond, and flowers. Children from the company kindergarten even swim with the fish in the summer. Grass and plants grow on the roof, making this Magna facility blend into the landscape when viewed from the air.

The office building, home to Magna Powertrain, was one of the first in the world to use rainwater to an extraordinary extent. Approximately 1.3 million gallons are used to run toilet facilities, and reserved in the event of a fire. Thermally activated building components mean all ceilings in the building are cooled or heated as needed by internal water pipes.

The concepts implemented here served as a basis for subsequent Magna building projects, including the GFT building in Cologne, Germany.

Magna Electronics, Holly, Michigan:

The commitment to sustainability began during the construction of this new facility, which is also home to Magna Rohinni Automotive.

All debris was separated into containers for similar materials, creating less landfill waste and allowing the recovery of recyclable materials, such as copper, aluminum and scrap steel. Materials that are less harmful to the environment were used in the building’s finishes, and automatic hands-free washroom accessories were installed to contribute to water savings.

Magna Cosma Shenyang:

This is the first Magna China property to use Building Information Modeling or 3D modeling throughout the project stages. This approach is considered to be a best practice because it is a sustainable way to manage new facility design and construction. The project team can easily see where, when, why and at what cost problems can occur.

The same 3D approach is being used at the new Metal Forming Solutions plant press shop in Kosice, Slovakia, which is slated to begin construction this summer.

“When you have a 3D model, you get a better overview and understanding of the possibilities of a building, and then you can make adjustments,” said Beata Suchanek, Magna director of corporate real estate for the European and Russia regions. “Plus, it allows you to make a movie of the building, so you can envision yourself walking through it.”

Starting with

the Small Things

Beata Suchanek is juggling several Magna real-estate projects, including a new office facility in Munich and a new stamping plant in Slovakia.  But her philosophy is the same when it comes developing sustainable buildings.

“Think about the future and flexibility,” said Suchanek, the Magna director of corporate real estate for the European and Russia regions. “How will you use the building in the next 25 to 30 years, not just the next five years?”

She is also a proponent of “starting with small things,” such as insulation and “playing with color.”

An example: When Suchanek had the walls painted blue in the offices at the Magna Powertrain plant in Bari, Italy during a 2017 expansion, it resulted in a modest savings on energy costs. Employees perceived that the rooms were cooler and didn’t adjust the air conditioning to a lower temperature.

Similarly, using a bright white color on the building structure and concrete floors creates natural light, also helping to save energy while enhancing the space.

Details in a building should do double and triple duty. At Magna’s Untergruppenbach facility, the air-conditioning piping system is made out of fabric, not metal.

“It’s white,” Suchanek explained. “Inside, there are LED lights that change color. So the pipes have several usages. They bring air into the office, they provide emergency lighting, and atmospheric lighting.”

Her sustainability approach extends to her home.

“It begins with shopping, where I bring all of my own canisters to the market,” Suchanek said. “Everything goes in them – sugar, laundry soap, noodles. I’m not using any plastic, and I’m cutting down on garbage. I also have a garden with a lot of plants that attract bees, and I’m very careful how I wash my clothes. My washing machine and dishwasher use less water. At work and at home, it starts with the small things.”

Beata Suchanek, Magna director of corporate real estate for the European and Russia regions