Results from the CaGBC’s Full Disclosure: Industry Leadership on Transparency report demonstrate need for government action to drive data transparency & reduce emissions
December 3, 2019 - Ottawa, Ontario – The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) today released the results of its Disclosure Challenge, an initiative designed to champion the importance of energy benchmarking and data transparency in the Canadian commercial real estate market. The results have CaGBC and initiative participants, including QuadReal, Triovest Realty Advisors Inc., Concert Properties Ltd., Colliers International, and the Minto Group calling on federal and provincial governments to implement consistent building data disclosure regulations and requirements.
The United Nations says buildings account for nearly one third of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs)[i], and in Vancouver[ii] and Toronto[iii], buildings contribute to approximately 50 per cent of each city’s current total emissions. For Canada to reach its emissions reduction targets and transition to a low-carbon economy over the next decade it is essential that existing buildings achieve significant energy efficiency improvements. One of the barriers to meeting these goals is the current lack of publicly available data on commercial building performance in Canada.
Energy benchmarking and data transparency programs are already being successfully implemented by owners and operators in cities across the United States along with jurisdictions in Europe and Australia. Governments and owners use this data to set performance baselines, identify efficiency opportunities, reduce GHG emissions, and meet environmental targets.
“Canada clearly needs to catch up quickly when it comes to benchmarking, reporting, and disclosing data. Access to building performance data has enabled owners in other jurisdictions to make more informed choices about investing in retrofits,” said Thomas Mueller, CEO and President of CaGBC. “Canadian markets require data transparency to drive investment in efficiency programs and create demand for higher performing buildings.”
The urgent need for publicly available data prompted CaGBC to launch the Disclosure Challenge in March 2019. Since then, its industry volunteer participants—QuadReal, Triovest Realty Advisors Inc., Concert Properties Ltd., Colliers International, and the Minto Group—demonstrated their leadership by disclosing building information including energy use, GHG emissions, and water use data from over 700 buildings. Collectively, the five portfolio-owners and managers oversee upwards of $50 billion in managed real estate assets which is approximately 10 per cent of the estimated value of the large real estate holdings held by private and public entities in Canada.
While energy benchmarking regulations are in effect in Ontario, the Challenge marked the first time Canadian real estate owners have voluntarily disclosed their Canada-wide portfolio data. These five participants publicly disclosed available data for over 11 million square meters of space in buildings spread across the country from Victoria to Halifax including offices, warehouses, residential apartment buildings and retail shops. This information can be accessed via an online data visualization tool available on CaGBC.org
The topline Disclosure Challenge results, reported in Full Disclosure: Industry Leadership on Transparency, reinforce the importance of having industry requirements for data transparency. Less than half (46 per cent) of the buildings disclosed as part of the Challenge had complete data available, with significant gaps in the retail, warehouse, and industrial sectors. Incomplete data for specific building types illustrates the difficulty facing even motivated building owners and managers who want to assess the environmental footprints of their portfolios. Without government mandates to drive the disclosure of data across the country from buildings of all types, it is unlikely owners will be able to see the full picture required to achieve the best outcomes for their portfolios and to help Canada reach its emissions targets.
Additional insights from the Disclosure Challenge results show:
- In comparison with NRCan average site energy use intensity values, overall participant office buildings performed approximately 10 per cent better than the average office in Canada, whereas participant multi-residential buildings were about even with the average.
- Average energy use intensity for office and multi-residential buildings in the challenge were 286 kWh/m2 and 256 kWh/m2 respectively. As compared to high-performance efficiency standards for new office and multi-residential buildings in Canada coming into force in different jurisdictions (with a standard of 100 kWh/m2), Disclosure Challenge office buildings were approximately 65 per cent less efficient and multi-residential buildings were 61 per cent less efficient.
- GHG Emissions intensity varied across the country and was generally correlated with the electricity supply grid intensity, so office buildings in Alberta were as high as 170 kgCO2e/m2 and apartments in British Columbia were as low as 24 kgCO2e/m2.
The full report can be viewed on CaGBC’s website.
“Through the Disclosure Challenge, you see five real estate companies that are not only voluntarily pledging to be transparent about our building data but are also demonstrating a commitment to the responsible management of our assets and, ultimately, to energy and emissions reductions. Transparency is good for markets, and we believe it will accelerate year-over-year improvements in building performance so that Canada can achieve its target of 30 per cent carbon reduction by 2030. We encourage more companies to join and disclose.”
Jamie Gray-Donald, Senior Vice President, Sustainability, QuadReal
“The Disclosure Challenge results demonstrate that without clear government mandates like those in Ontario, it is challenging to access enough data to enable policymakers and regulators to monitor how buildings across their jurisdictions are performing and assess the impacts of energy and GHG emissions reduction policies. We need that information in order to be able to ensure we are succeeding in lowering our GHG emissions,”
Brian McCauley, President & Chief Executive Officer, Concert Properties
“When utility data is not available in a standardized digital format, customers cannot easily access and analyze valuable energy and water consumption information. Until a standard is adopted, individual Canadians, governments and organizations like Triovest will continue to be hampered in their benchmarking initiatives and efficiency pursuits due to the difficulties associated with accessing a digital view on performance.”
Philippe Bernier, Vice President, Innovation & Sustainability, Triovest Realty Advisors Inc.
“With the Disclosure Challenge, Colliers International is proud to stand alongside other leading commercial real estate companies and demonstrate that the industry is ready for a new era of energy, water, and emissions data disclosure. The establishment of a national property benchmarking program will standardize data disclosure and ultimately help achieve enhanced building performance and improved outcomes for all stakeholders, including our communities, clients, and occupants.”
Nicky Arthur, Energy & Sustainability Manager, Colliers International, Real Estate Management Services
“Benchmarking is the first step in improving building performance. The Disclosure Challenge proves that industry collaboration can stimulate the types of retrofits required to promote significant emissions reductions. Our participation helped highlight changes we could make at the building level to improve performance and indicates to us the value of sharing our information, experiences and lessons learned with the industry as a whole.”
George Van Noten, Senior Vice President, Property Operations, Minto Properties Inc.
About the Disclosure Challenge Participants
QuadReal Property Group
Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, QuadReal Property Group is a global real estate investment, operating and development company. QuadReal manages the real estate and mortgage programs of British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI), one of Canada’s largest asset managers with a $153.4 billion portfolio.
QuadReal manages a $37.6 billion portfolio spanning 23 Global Cities across 17 countries. The company seeks to deliver strong investment returns while creating sustainable environments that bring value to the people and communities it serves. Now and for generations to come.
QuadReal: Excellence lives here.
Triovest Realty Advisors
Triovest is an entrepreneurial leader in institutional real estate management, creating sustainable places that enhance communities and enrich relationships. Triovest’s business platform offers advisory and investment management services with over $10 billion in assets under management and $2 billion in development. With offices in each major market across Canada, Triovest strives to combine local intelligence with deep expertise to drive superior returns.
Founded in 1989, Concert specializes in developing rental apartments, condominium homes and active aging communities, as well as acquiring and developing office, commercial, industrial and infrastructure properties. With operations across Canada and the backing of more than 200,000 Canadians represented by the union and management pension plans who own the organization, our commitment is to build strong, sustainable communities across Canada.
Colliers International Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CIGI) (TSX: CIGI) is a leading global real estate services and investment management company. With operations in 68 countries, our 14,000 enterprising people work collaboratively to provide expert advice and services to maximize the value of property for real estate occupiers, owners and investors. For more than 20 years, our experienced leadership team, owning more than 40% of our equity, have delivered industry-leading investment returns for shareholders. In 2018, corporate revenues were $2.8 billion ($3.3 billion including affiliates), with more than $26 billion of assets under management.
The Minto Group is one of the premier real estate companies in Canada with a fully integrated real estate development and investment management platform. Since 1955, Minto has built more than 85,000 new homes, and currently manages more than 14,000 rental suites and 2.5 million square feet of office and retail space. Minto Group is proud to be a two-time winner of the Building Industry and Land Development Association’s Green Builder of the Year award, a four-time winner of EnerQuality’s Ontario Green Builder of the Year award and two-time winner of the Ontario Home Builder Association’s Home Builder of the Year award. The company was also named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for 2019.
About the CaGBC
CaGBC is the leading national organization dedicated to advancing green building and sustainable community development practices. As the voice of green building in Canada, we work closely with our national and chapter members in an effort to make every building greener. The CaGBC reduces environmental impacts from the built environment through project certification, advocacy and research. CaGBC established the LEED® green building rating system in Canada and developed the country's first Zero Carbon Building Standard in May 2017. For more information cagbc.org.
[i] Source: https://www.unenvironment.org/explore-topics/resource-efficiency/what-we-do/cities/sustainable-buildings
[ii] Source: City of Vancouver (2015)
[iii] Source: Transform TO – The City of Toronto (2014)