Sustainability is one of the hottest issues in development and property management. At Cadillac Fairview, though, improving sustainability has been part of doing business for almost a decade.
The company has also discovered investing in becoming more “green” helps save a significant amount of another type of “green.”
Cadillac Fairview (CF) recently released its extensive, 33-page Corporate Responsibility Report and a significant portion of the document focuses on its achievements in sustainability.
It also documents social wellness at CF and its properties, as well as governance.
Karen Jalon has been CF’s Director of Corporate Responsibility since its Green at Work program was first developed in 2008.
“Focuses on operational excellence”
“Green at Work is our national, proprietary, award-winning sustainability program,” she explained. “It focuses on operational excellence in this space. What it includes is a focus on targets, benchmarks, best practices and engagement.”
Due to CF’s stature as one of North America’s largest property owners, operators and developers, the report is a significant benchmark in the corporate responsibility space.
The company’s portfolio is valued at almost $30B and includes 73 properties offering 38-million square feet of leasable space. CF, which is owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, has been issuing the reports since 2010.
Its been a journey
“Maybe it’s cliche that people talk about this as a journey. We almost forget where we came from,” Jalon said. “We have always been leaders in this space … but we’ve really come extremely far.”
Just how far is reflected in some of the statistics. Since Cadillac Fairview first benchmarked power consumption, greenhouse gas releases and water usage in 2008, the company has made dramatic reductions in each of area. It says comparable carbon emissions are down 43 per cent, water consumption 33% and electricity 27%.
Waste diversion, CF says, improved to 77.4% at its properties in 2016.
Reductions have resulted in major cash savings
And that other type of “green”? CF estimates the water and energy reductions alone have saved it $40 million.
“I think it’s great that we can do something that is better for the world, engages our people so they can feel passionate about what they do and supports our business and all of our stakeholders,” Jalon said regarding the impact on the bottom line.
In addition to the overall reductions, the report highlights annual performance stats. In 2016, CF reduced energy usage by 3.1% and water consumption by 3.9%, exceeding its own targets.
That equates to saving 480,000 bathtubs of water, or the electricity used by 780 Canadian homes for a year.
Global Reporting Initiative
Those results continue a pattern set in the early years of its reporting. Jalon said CF set out five-year reduction goals when the Green at Work program was created.
“We thought they were really aggressive and progressive, and we just blew our expectations out of the water.”
The Corporate Responsibility Report conforms to standards set within the Global Reporting Initiative, but also incorporates elements from other international standards. Among these are the UN Principles on Responsible Investment initiative (UNPRI) and the Global Real Estate Survey Benchmark (GRESB).
Jalon said the company is “very proud” of its status as a leader in sustainability and reporting. Further proof of CF’s achievements come via a series of awards and internationally recognized designations for its properties.
The report states CF:
* Is recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers;
* Has nine LEED Platinum and three LEED Gold certifications among its office properties portfolio;
* Collaborated with TD Bank to help it achieve the first WELL certification in the world (Gold) under V1 of the standard;
* Scored an A+ in the UNPRI;
* Has a “Green Star” ranking in the GRESB.
“A host of different standards go into our report,” Jalon said. “The depth and scope of it has definitely grown over the years.”
Though the report is decidedly upbeat, it does identify some challenges. It notes the lack of “cost-effective technologies to minimize energy use or replace fossil fuel use with renewable energy.”
And while its overall waste diversion across all property classes rose to 77.4%, the report notes two areas where the 2016 goals were not met. CF’s non-AAA office portfolio had a 65% diversion rate, while AAA offices were at 86%.
Both were improvements on the 2015 numbers, but fell short of the company’s 75% and 90% goals.
Benchmarking and tracking annual progress has led to significant changes in CF’s operations. And, it is constantly looking for other cost-effective ways to continue reducing its impact on the environment.
Jalon points to projects such as energy cogeneration capability at Calgary’s CF Chinook Centre development, the Enwave Deep Lake Water Cooling system which pumps water from deep in Lake Ontario to help cool its downtown Toronto properties, and a geo-exchange system at its 777 Dunsmuir property in Vancouver as examples.
“That’s definitely a world-class example where we put geo-exchange . . . into a fully occupied building in downtown Vancouver, which is pretty neat.”
Jalon said it’s impossible to pin down how many Cadillac Fairview employees are involved in the sustainability program. A steering committee of about 18 members oversees Green at Work and sustainability issues, but the tentacles reach out to include executives, property managers and scores of employees at all levels.
“Everybody in the company knows what Green at Work is,” she said. “This has been ingrained in our culture.”