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Primaris REIT sets baselines for ESG targets

Retail real estate owner's first sustainability report covers greenhouse gas, energy, waste goals

Park Place Shopping Centre is the only BOMA BEST Platinum-certified property in Primaris REIT's portfolio. It received the certification for its use of renewable energy and natural gas, LED lighting and resource conservation efforts. (Courtesy Primaris REIT)

Primaris REIT’s (PMZ-UN-T) inaugural ESG disclosure will help establish its baselines for climate impact, sustainability and green buildings, according to the enclosed shopping centre-focused real estate owner.

Its portfolio of 39 properties valued at $3.9 billion is spread across Canada. Among its notable properties are Place d’Orleans in Ottawa, Toronto's Dufferin Mall, Medicine Hat Mall in Alberta and Highstreet Shopping Centre in Abbotsford, B.C.

In the report, Toronto-based Primaris built a picture of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the percentage of its portfolio certified under green building standards, and water and energy use in 2022.

In 2023, the REIT formalized its three-year ESG plan and participated in the CDP Climate Change questionnaire for the first time to outline its climate-related risks, emissions and sustainability practices.

“With our baseline data now finalized, and a clear understanding of where we are today, Primaris can begin to move the needle,” Primaris CEO Alex Avery said in the report.

Primaris’ emissions data and green buildings coverage

For its first GHG emissions report, Primaris tracked pollution within its operational control — Scopes 1 and 2.

Ending Dec. 31, 2022, 80 per cent of Primaris’ portfolio was accounted for, totalling 52,850 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in combined Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Most of its GHG emissions fell under Scope 2 — 35,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

As of Dec. 31, 2022, 13.9 million square feet of gross floor area was certified by LEED or BOMA BEST. By Dec. 1, 2023, 15.3 million square feet of gross floor area was certified by the two green building standards. Primaris says the increase accounts for two significant acquisitions during the year, Conestoga Mall in Waterloo, Ont., and the Halifax Shopping Centre.

All of Primaris' 22 shopping centres are certified by BOMA BEST. Its sole BOMA BEST Platinum-certified example is Park Place Shopping Centre in Lethbridge, Alta., which is powered by renewable energy and natural gas, uses LED lighting and implements resource conservation efforts.

Three shopping centres in design or construction received certifications from LEED or 2000-Watt.

Primaris plans to engage with its tenants on ESG operational initiatives by providing support and resources and increasing tenant sub-metering.

Saving resources and cutting waste

Energy consumption for Primaris’ portfolio in 2022 (with data coverage at 83 per cent) was calculated at 244,040 megawatt-hours.

Primaris listed its energy efficiency measures to date:

  • digital utility meter readings;
  • upgraded building automation systems;
  • enhanced management systems;
  • installation of high-efficiency equipment;
  • tenant engagement;
  • smart grid technologies;
  • systems commissioning; and
  • window replacements.

Water consumption was measured at 669,700 cubic metres across its portfolio, of which 81 per cent was covered. Primaris implemented a variety of water efficiency measures at its properties including: digital meter readings, smart irrigation, drought tolerant landscaping, high efficiency fixtures, leak detection systems, metering of water subsystems, and reuse of storm water.

Over half of the 9,500 tonnes of waste (54 per cent) from its portfolio in 2022 was diverted from landfills through recycling and composting. The data coverage accounts for 68 per cent of its portfolio. The REIT implements a variety of waste management efficiency measures at the properties including composting, waste performance monitoring, recycling, waste management and waste stream audits.

Primaris’ 2024 focuses

Primaris will develop targets for GHG emissions, energy, waste and water in 2024, and take other steps in its governance and environmental efforts, Avery said.

“As we look to 2024, we will integrate ESG performance objectives into senior executive and corporate compensation scorecards, develop a climate strategy aligning to IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) S1 and S2 standards, build out a robust tenant engagement program including the enhancement of data collection of tenant sustainability impacts, and continue to support community engagement programs at our shopping centres.”

Additional plans include incorporating green lease language into its lease forms and developing a climate strategy aligned with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures.

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