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.
Our total energy consumption in 2019 was 796,000 eMWh. Comparing our normalized portfolio, this is a reduction in energy consumption of 1.9%, which is equivalent to the energy required to power 540 Canadian homes.
Across our global portfolio, we decreased normalized energy use by 2%, to 24.1 ekWh per square foot, meeting our annual energy target of 2%. Since 2017, we decreased energy use by 2%, progressing toward our five-year, 10% reduction target.
In 2019, we continued to reduce our water consumption, decreasing our like-for-like water use by 1.2%. This is equivalent to nearly 7.4 million gallons, which is enough water to fill 164,000 bathtubs.
Our normalized water use intensity decreased by 6.1% between 2018 and 2019, to 63.9 litres per square foot. With this reduction, we surpassed our annual 1.5% water-reduction target and have already reduced our water intensity by 10.2%, exceeding our five-year 7.5% reduction target.
Waste management continues to be a key area of our focus, starting with data collection and reporting. In 2019, we reported on an additional one million square feet for waste diversion, which resulted in a 4% increase since 2018 and 14% since 2017.
Even with an increase in waste reporting, our total waste generation decreased by 950 metric tonnes. Our average diversion rate for 2019 was 45%, a 1% decrease from 2018. In 2020, we plan to continue our waste performance measurement and identify opportunities to increase diversion and reduce waste generation where possible.
In 2019, our greenhouse gas (GHG) emission was 150,550 tCO2e. Comparing our like-for-like portfolio, we reduced our footprint by 17,400 tCO2e in 2019, the equivalent of taking 3,700 cars off the road.
The decrease in GHG emissions is a result of our reduction in energy consumption as well as the electricity grids in select regions having a lesser carbon intensity compared with 2018.
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 2019, we certified 19 properties to LEED, representing 6.5 million square feet. This included the first Canadian LEED v4.1 certification at 1600 Carling in Ottawa. We also expanded our BOMA BEST portfolio program, certifying an additional 1 million square feet. We also achieved our first Fitwel certification at 220 Bloor, located at our Toronto head office campus.
Throughout 2020, we'll continue to target properties in Canada and the United States for LEED certification, and we have plans to release two building certification guides to support our property teams in their certication process.
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.