A fresh look at
managing resources


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Tasos Dimacakos (Teknion) and Zhen Lee (RBC) won a REmmy award for the Extend Program.

What if we could continue to draw value from our furniture assets even after their service life in our facilities is completed?


What if we could save money and, at the same time contribute to the health of the communities in which we operate? Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC) Corporate Real Estate team was asking these questions, while developing new furniture solutions to meet the evolving needs of its retail branches across Canada. What came next was the successful implementation of the EXTEND furniture management program, which extended the furniture life cycle, saved money for the bank, gave back to the community and diverted furniture from landfill.

Overcoming Complexities

At the start of the project RBC was dealing with a complex furniture asset management system. Across Canada, the needs of RBC’s retail branches were continually evolving, and furniture was not being tracked consistently. RBC’s decentralized furniture management model made it difficult to transform the risk associated with managing small and diverse compilations of furniture from 7.2 million sq. ft. (668,902 m2) of branches across Canada into an opportunity by either redeploying, donating or recycling them. A sustainable approach would further align with the bank’s core values of caring for the environment and the community. It is an unfortunate reality that 68 percent of all commercial furniture ends up in landfill, and RBC wanted to take some tangible steps to distance itself from that statistic. The RBC Corporate Real Estate team knew that if it could develop a cohesive picture of what furniture inventory was present where, it could responsibly manage, redeploy and decommission furniture from branches across Canada. Zhen Lee, Director of Operations at RBC explains, “When developing this initiative, we realized the potential magnitude of this program and its ability to impact many areas of our business and regions across Canada.

“Speed, agility, efficiency and care for the environment and community are some of the values that RBC and Teknion share.”

- Zhen Lee, Director of Operations RBC

Thinking Through the Entire Furniture Life Cycle

RBC believed that collaborating with Teknion, the existing furniture partner, was the most effective way to develop and execute a strategy to meet the challenges at hand. Zhen adds, “We knew Teknion had both the vision and capacity to deal with the complexity involved.” Teknion responded by creating a centralized furniture life cycle extension and tracking program that takes on any furniture project, big or small, Canada-wide. Through a single point of contact. This program, code-named EXTEND, differs greatly from the standard type of inventory program that focuses on low-hanging fruit with an immediate financial payout: namely, one-off large decommissioning projects in a single building. Rather, the EXTEND program accommodates the needs of any size branch, in any area, remote or central. This includes: inventory management and redeployment, resale and charitable donations to extend the useful life of the bank’s furniture, as well as recycling at end-of-life to ensure diversion from landfill and positive community impact. 

Small Acts, Big Impact

Since the inception of this program, every piece of furniture at every branch is inventoried and tracked within the Teknion-administered database. This means that Teknion can undertake trivial tasks such as replacing a caster in a branch as remote as Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, or shipping 11 unused desks from Montreal to Peterborough, increasing the benefits when multiplied nationwide. Additionally, the extensive network afforded by Teknion and its logistics and social enterprise partners, CMI and CSR Eco Solutions, enables RBC to keep its activities local, whenever possible, thus reducing shipping costs, and further reducing its carbon footprint. Since the inception of this program, RBC has experienced an increase in sustainable activity in almost every province and territory nationwide, reaching approximately 120 branches, which equates to 600,000 sq. ft. (55,742 m2) of retail space. In time, the program will impact all 7.2 million sq. ft. (668,902 m2) within RBC’s retail branch network.

The Success is in the Metrics 

By asking “What If?”, RBC and Teknion have written a new script for sustainable and costefficient business practices. When commenting on the success of the EXTEND program, Zhen explains, “It’s not just about a supplier-client relationship. It’s the mutual respect and collaboration between two partners that have driven an initiative of this size, speed, agility, efficiency and care for the environment and community are just some of the values that RBC and Teknion share.”

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