Sustainability governance and reporting

As a large global organization with a track record of excellence, integrity, and ethical business conduct, we apply the same high standards to managing sustainability as we do to managing all other aspects of our business.

Sustainability governance spans our organization

Our Executive Sustainability Committee defines our annual objectives and regularly oversees our progress while ensuring that we adhere to corporate policies and practices. This committee consists of senior representation from key, global departments.

Regan Smith, our head of sustainability for real estate, sets our sustainability strategy and manages the programs that support our commitments and vision. She also represents Manulife Investment Management's real estate segment on both Manulife Financial Corporation’s Sustainability Centre of Expertise and Manulife Investment Management’s Responsible Investment Committee.

Our sustainable building standards

Property operations make up the bulk of our environmental impact (energy, water, waste, and greenhouse gas emissions) and are the focus of our interaction with our employees, tenants, and community members. That’s why we developed a comprehensive list of Sustainable Building Standards, each of which consists of five levels.

These standards were developed as clear guidelines for our property teams

  • They help to ensure a consistent sustainability experience for tenants and employees while also enabling us to benchmark and better understand business outcomes.
  • Our Level 1 standard acts as a baseline, which all properties can achieve; Levels 2 and 3 generally equate to good practice for an office building; Levels 4 and 5 denote leadership. 
  • To facilitate implementation, certification, and reporting, the program also aligns with industry best practices, including GRESB, LEED, and BOMA BEST. 

We met our second-year targets to improve in each asset class

  • In 2017, we rolled out our standards globally. In the first half of the year, properties set baseline levels, which were reported to regional managing directors and heads of real estate.
  • By 2018, all properties met Level 1 in every standard, including industrial and third-party managed properties. 
  • In 2019, we set targets for each asset class and are happy to report that we achieved each one. Looking forward, we seek to improve our average scores in 2020.

Center of sustainability expertise:

another key leadership strategy

We foster a centre of expertise that focuses on the sustainability issues that matter most to our stakeholders. We advanced this strategy with two major initiatives in 2018: the addition of a dedicated sustainability director and the establishment of our Green Champion community.

Driving sustainability integration across our organization

Regan Smith, our Head of Real Estate Sustainability, is dedicated to advancing our sustainability program across real estate. She brings more than 15 years of real estate and green building consulting experience. Regan is an integral part of our engineering and technical services team, a group that provides expert guidance on operational excellence, resource management, development, and compliance.

A community of green champions

As part of the Sustainable Building Standards roll out, we established a community of 150 Green Champions, including both Manulife Investment Management and third-party managers, who act as property point people for sustainability. The Green Champions work with Regan and other sustainability leaders in the organization to execute sustainability programs at the property level.

Reporting validates our practices

We report externally on our sustainability performance to validate our practices, monitor our progress, and support our transparency.

Since we began reporting to GRESB in 2016, we've continuously improved our ranking. In 2020, our global real estate portfolio received a rating of 5 stars, ranking it in the top quintile of GRESB participants and second amongst its peers. Moreover, all of our GRESB submissions received a Green Star.


As a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), we also report on our responsible investment practices. In 2020, we continued to earn a score of “A” on the property investing module.

We also contribute to Manulife corporate reporting, including:

  • Manulife Financial Corporation's sustainability report and public accountability statement
  • CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) reporting
  • Dow Jones Sustainability Index reporting

Reporting boundaries and definitions

January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019.

Reporting cycle: Annual

Data coverage: Data coverage for performance data is outlined where it is presented. If no data coverage is noted, data represents all Manulife Investment Management Real Estate arm properties.

Energy: Energy data includes electricity, natural gas, heating oil and steam consumption for base buildings, common areas and tenanted spaces. Energy use intensity has been adjusted for weather and extraordinary usage in the 2019 reporting year. 

Average U.S. and Canadian energy intensities derive from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2012, and the Real Property Association of Canada (REALPAC), 2014. Average water intensities derive from the DC Department of Energy and Environment, 2012 and REALPAC, 2012. 

Environmental targets performance: Environmental target performance is measured and reported based on a straight average of normalized property energy and water intensity.

Greenhouse gas emissions: Greenhouse gas emissions data includes all office buildings with available data. Methodology for determining greenhouse gas emissions is aligned with the CAN/CSA-ISO 14064-1-06, CAN/CSA-ISO 14064-3-06 and the WRI/WBCSD Greenhouse Gas Protocol standards.

BOMA BEST®: Building Owners and Managers Association Building Environmental Standards. This Canadian certification program evaluates properties based on energy, water, waste, greenhouse gas emissions, indoor environment, and environmental management systems.

CaGBC: The Canada Green Building Council. The CaGBC is a national not-for-profit organization that has been working since 2002 to advance green building and sustainable community development practices in Canada.

CDP: Formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, the CDP is an organization that works to disclose the greenhouse gas emissions of major corporations. CDP’s climate change program collects information on the risks and opportunities of climate and aims to reduce companies’ greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change risk.

CO2e: Carbon dioxide equivalent. This metric calculates the total global warming impact of different greenhouse gases by converting them to the standard measure of carbon dioxide. It is often displayed in metric tonnes (1,000 kilograms) or tCO2e. Greenhouse gas emissions intensity is expressed in kgCO2e per square foot.

ekWh: Equivalent kilowatt hours. This metric is the standard unit of energy consumption used to aggregate and compare different energy sources (e.g., natural gas to electricity).

ENERGY STAR: An international standard for energy efficiency. It was created in 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to provide an energy performance rating system for commercial building types. The ratings, on a scale from 1 to 100, benchmark the energy efficiency of specific buildings against similar facilities. Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, and the European Union have adopted the program.

Fitwel: A building certification system for existing buildings that provides guidelines on how to design and operate healthier buildings.

Greenhouse gas emissions: Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, raising the average temperature of the planet. They are produced by fossil fuel combustion and industrial, agricultural, and waste management processes. They are measured in metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), hence they are also known as carbon emissions.

GRESB: Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark. This institutional investor-sponsored assessment is the global standard for assessing the sustainability performance of real estate companies and funds. In 2019, the assessment had 1,00 participants from 64 countries, representing $4.1 trillion in gross asset value.

LEED®: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This internationally recognized, third-party certification system rates a building’s site, water and energy efficiency, waste management, material selection, and indoor air quality. There are different certification programs:

• NC: New Construction. This rating program applies to new construction and major renovations of commercial and institutional buildings.

• CS: Core and Shell. This rating program is a derivative of NC and applies to buildings where the owner controls 50% or less of the building area that will be built to NC requirements.

• CI: Commercial Interiors. This rating program is applicable to tenant improvements of new or existing office space.

• EB: O+M: Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance. This rating program evaluates the sustainability of ongoing operations of existing commercial and institutional buildings.

L/SF: Litres per square foot.

Net Zero: A building for which the amount of on-site renewable energy sources is equal to the amount of energy used by the building.

PRI: Principles for Responsible Investment. This organization works to understand the investment implications of environmental, social, and governance factors and to support its international network of investor signatories in incorporating these factors into their investment and ownership decisions.

Scope 1 emissions: Direct greenhouse gas emissions from activities at company-owned properties, including combustion of natural gas in boilers and furnaces, the use of gasoline in generators, and vehicles and refrigerant losses.

Scope 2 emissions: Greenhouse gas emissions from the generation of electricity, steam, and chilled water purchased by the company.

Scope 3 emissions: Greenhouse gas emissions due to company operations from sources not owned or controlled by the company, e.g., landfill waste, water transportation, and data centers.

TCFD: Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. A market-driven initiative, set up to develop a set of recommendations for voluntary, and consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures in mainstream filings.

Waste diversion rate: The percentage of total waste that is diverted away from landfill disposal through recycling or composting. 

WELL: A performance-based building certification system for measuring and monitoring building features that impact human health and wellbeing, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.