Our environmental impact
We focus on operational efficiency through the use of technology to reduce our environmental footprint.
Resource management matters to us and to our stakeholders
Buildings consume substantial amounts of energy and water and generate approximately 40% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. As building owners and managers, we minimize our environmental impact by investing in resource efficiency and embedding conservation practices into our operations.
Our approach to resource management
In 2018, we implemented a new environmental data management system to automate utility tracking and reporting. Since then, we’ve been able to collect utility data from nearly all of our properties. To improve transparency, we also work with our tenants to collect data on energy usage within their space to deepen our understanding of building performance.
Our five-year environmental targets
7.5% reduction in water
65% waste diversion rate
10% reduction in energy
We focus on operational efficiency through the use of technology to optimize our environmental performance
We improve utility performance across our properties each year
To align with our five-year environmental targets, we updated our normalization methodology and set 2017 as our baseline year. To enable accurate comparisons, we normalize energy and water use intensity for occupancy, weather, and extraordinary usage as necessary.
In 2020, our energy consumption totaled 733,980 eMWh. Comparing our like-for-like portfolio scores from 2019, our consumption decreased by 13.9%, which is roughly equivalent to the energy required to power 4,000 Canadian homes.
Across our global portfolio, we reduced normalized energy use2 intensity to 19.6 ekWh per square foot, down 15.4% from 2019 and 17.2% from 2017. Although our 2020 performance surpassed our five-year 10% energy reduction target, occupancy fluctuations in 2020 made target progress monitoring more complex.
1Energy data includes electricity, natural gas, heating oil, and steam consumption. 2017-2019 values are restated due to data and property area updates.
22017-2019 energy intensity is normalized for weather, occupancy (where data is available) and extraordinary use. 2020 energy intensity is only normalized for weather and extraordinary use because of the impact of COVID-19 on occupancy normalization. 2017-2019 values are restated due to data and property area updates.
In 2020, we used significantly less water, partly due to the impact of COVID-19 on building occupancy. Our absolute water footprint decreased 9.3% from 2019, despite portfolio growth and an increase in data coverage, while our like-for-like water use declined 26.0%, equivalent to over 650 million litres – enough water to fill 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Our normalized water use intensity2 decreased by 14.0% between 2019 and 2020 to 53.0 litres per square foot. Similar to energy, COVID-19 had a significant impact on water consumption. Prior to the pandemic, we were on track to meet our five-year 7.5% water reduction target, and we expect to extend this performance through 2021 as our buildings reopen.
12017-2019 values are restated due to data and property area updates.
.22017-2019 water intensity is normalized for occupancy (where data is available) and extraordinary use. 2020 water intensity is only normalized for extraordinary use because of the impact of COVID-19 on occupancy normalization.
We continue to make waste management a focus area, beginning with data collection and reporting. In 2020, we reported on waste diversion for an additional five million square feet of our portfolio.
With the downturn in building occupancy, waste generation declined significantly from 2019 levels – our total waste generation decreased by 5,200 metric tonnes. The average diversion rate for 2020 was 50.8%, a 5.4% improvement over 2019.
To help mitigate the effects of climate change, Manulife Investment Management is committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to low-carbon energy sources. In 2020, our total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 127,205 tCO2e, down 23,617 tCO2e compared to 2019. In addition, we purchased 48,550 MWh of renewable energy across our portfolio.
Our 2020 emissions went down in part because of less energy use with more people working from home, as well as energy efficiency project improvements. In 2020, we conducted carbon audits at select properties to better assess GHG reduction opportunities, setting a 2050 target of 80% reduction in carbon intensity where we have operational control. In 2021, we will seek to develop a long-term portfolio GHG management program and integrate initiatives into our proprietary Sustainable Building Standards.
1Location-based emissions. 2019-2017 values are restated as a result of data and property area updates.
Scope 1 includes emissions from natural gas, diesel and refrigerants. Refrigerant and diesel emissions are only included for 2019 and 2020.
Scope 2 includes emissions from purchased electricity and steam.
Green building certifications
Green building certifications provide a globally recognized standard for measuring a building’s performance, and demand for these certifications is steadily increasing. Within major Canadian and U.S. markets, green building-certified office space has increased to over 50% and 23%, respectively, since 2006.
BOMA BEST or BOMA 360 certified
LEED (O+M, CS, BD) certified
ENERGY STAR rated
Other certifications (CASBEE, Fitwel)
"In our latest tenant survey, 70% of office respondents stated that green building certifications are 'important' or 'very important' to their company. This is highly encouraging, as it shows us that the majority of tenants share our passion for sustainability in real estate."
Currently, over 80% of our portfolio, or 48 million square feet, is certified to a green building standard
In 2020, our portfolio achieved 6 new LEED and 11 new BOMA BEST certifications. We also expanded our Fitwel certifications at two properties - Manulife Place in Edmonton and The Michelson in Irvine.
Throughout 2021, we'll continue to target properties in Canada and the United States and increasing green building certification.
For more information, please see the 2021 Real Estate Sustainability report.
Preparing for climate change
Climate change poses physical risks to our buildings and communities through storms, floods, intense heat, water stress, and rising sea levels. In order to guard against these devastating events, we must innovate and do our part—staying ahead of the curve to deliver on the needs of our stakeholders, today and tomorrow.
Climate change in real estate: managing through mitigation and adaptation
Within real estate, we manage climate change through mitigation—reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a low carbon economy—and adaptation—preparing for a changing climate and increased chance of extreme weather. We also engage in a host of other activities for ourselves, our tenants, our communities, and our planet as a whole.
1 Evaluate and manage
physical risks and portfolio
2 Invest in efficiency and
3 Purchase renewable energy
certificates to offset our
emissions and encourage
clean energy development
4 Provide amenities to support
our tenants' efforts in
creating a clean economy
5 Provide support for
(e.g., bike racks, electric
vehicle charging stations) to
reduce tenant emissions
6 Manage greenhouse gas
emissions and model
Case study: 980 Howe recognized as "Best in Class" by BOMA
This 16-story, AAA office building in downtown Vancouver was recognized as "Best in Class" in BOMA’s first-ever Net Zero Challenge Awards. These awards recognize industry-leading buildings that are progressing toward net zero energy and carbon.