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Choice Properties unveils first net-zero report

Choice Properties REIT has published its inaugural net-zero pathway report laying out how the company will achieve its climate goal by 2050. (Courtesy Choice Properties REIT)

Months after releasing its 2021 ESG report and validating its greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goal under the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), Choice Properties REIT disclosed a more detailed plan for reaching net-zero by 2050.

“Our Pathway to Net-Zero Report outlines our commitment and approach to achieving net-zero GHG emissions across our portfolio by 2050 and is a major step forward in our sustainability journey,” said Rael Diamond, president and CEO of Choice Properties REIT, in a news release.

Choice Properties is Canada’s largest real estate investment trust (REIT), managing 64 million square feet of gross leasable area.

In August, senior director of sustainability Ariel Feldman told SustainableBiz having its net-zero goal validated by the SBTi fulfills its intention to “play a leading role in supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Choice Properties’ GHG emissions in 2021

In 2021, the majority of Choice Properties’ pollution was from Scope 3 emissions at 95 per cent. Scope 1 accounted for two per cent, and Scope 2 accounted for four per cent (the total exceeds 100 per cent due to rounding).

By committing to the SBTi’s Corporate Net-Zero Standard in July 2022, Choice Properties has set out to accomplish:

  • a 50 per cent reduction in absolute Scope 1 and 2 emissions from a 2019 base year by 2030;
  • a 30 per cent reduction in Scope 3 emissions from purchased goods and services, and downstream leased assets, from 2019 by 2030; and
  • to reduce its absolute Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions 90 per cent from 2019 and reach net-zero GHG emissions across its value chain by 2050.

How Choice Properties will decarbonize

The REIT outlined a three-part strategy to decarbonize its portfolio centred around existing properties, low-carbon developments and value chain engagement.

To decarbonize existing properties, Choice Properties is developing “asset-specific greenhouse gas reduction plans and working with our tenants to promote energy management best practices,” to reduce consumption. The solutions include investments in high-efficiency HVAC, LED lighting and controls, better-insulated walls and roofs, optimized heat recovery and more efficient building operations.

It is also electrifying heating systems by replacing existing gas-fuelled rooftop units and boilers with new electric or dual-fuel systems.

For emissions-free electric power, Choice Properties is considering on-site solar panels, sourcing renewable power, green tariffs and purchasing environmental attributes for emissions-free energy like renewable energy certificates.

Low-carbon developments will entail reducing embodied carbon in its building portfolio, which Choice Properties calls one of the “greater challenges in our net-zero plan.” The REIT has completed life-cycle assessments on many of its development projects to “understand which building materials generate the most emissions and opportunities to reduce those emissions,” and is piloting low-carbon alternatives to concrete and steel.

Choice Properties will reduce operational carbon through energy efficiency, electrifying heating systems and generating on-site renewable energy.

The strategy to lower its value chain emissions 90 per cent by 2050 also has multiple facets. The trust has updated tenant lease terms setting out responsibilities for achieving net-zero through cost recovery for energy-efficient equipment, sharing of utility data, incorporating energy and water management best practices into the design of leased areas and other best practices.

Additionally, it updated tenant design manuals to emphasize sustainable construction and operations and incorporated sustainability in tenant surveys. Choice Properties advocates for emissions transparency from its materials suppliers, is piloting low-carbon materials for its buildings, enhancing environmental metrics in procurement and collaborating with its development partners on environmental goals and emissions reductions.

Choice Properties’ current progress on ESG

The release summarized Choice Properties’ progress toward its ESG commitments, including:

  • reducing same-asset Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and limited Scope 3 emissions by 24 per cent since 2022 from a 2019 baseline;
  • releasing its Green Financing Framework and issuing its inaugural $350 million green bond in November 2021;
  • owning over 30 million square feet of space certified under LEED or BOMA BEST as of Q4 2021;
  • achieving "Prime Status" from Institutional Shareholder Services for its ESG Corporate Rating in July 2022; and
  • improving its GRESB Standing Investment score to 82, up four points from 2021.

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