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Manulife achieves Canada’s first LEED v4.1 Operations & Maintenance certification

Streamlined LEED v4.1 process for this project led Manulife to pursue LEED for multiple propertie...

1600 Carling Ave., Ottawa

Image courtesy of Manulife Investment Management.

Streamlined LEED v4.1 process for this project led Manulife to pursue LEED for multiple properties across Canada

1600 Carling Avenue is a 183,000 square foot class A office property located in the west end of Ottawa, Ontario. Owned and managed by Manulife Investment Management, the building features an impressive eight-storey glass atrium and direct access to Ottawa’s Highway 417 as well as public transportation, dining and retail amenities.

The office space received Gold standing in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) v4.1 for Operations and Maintenance (O+M) certification, making it the first property in Canada to achieve the new certification—but Manulife isn’t stopping there. Since certifying their first Ottawa building, they’ve registered more than ten of their buildings across Canada. The push to see Manulife buildings achieve this standard speaks volumes about the organization’s commitment to sustainability and how LEED v4.1 had helped streamline certification with an emphasis on key, data-driven performance outcomes.

Keeping sustainable commitments

Manulife Investment Management’s commitment to sustainability is embedded across a real estate portfolio that includes office, industrial, retail, and multi-family assets. In Canada alone, Manulife has 277 properties totaling approximately 34 million square feet, of which over 60 per cent is office space.

Within Real Estate, Manulife Investment Management’s sustainability policy and standards guide the organizational processes across its global platform portfolio from investments and development, to leasing, property management, and asset management. The team demonstrates their commitment to sustainability by promoting responsible business practices, supporting health and wellness, engaging stakeholders, minimizing environmental impact and being accountable for their performance.

As part of these commitments, in 2017, they set five-year energy, water, and waste targets. Across its real estate portfolio, Manulife Investment Management plans to reduce energy usage by 10 per cent, cut water usage by 7.5 per cent and increase its waste diversion rate to 65 per cent by 2022.

Manulife uses performance data and ratings, such as LEED, to help them move toward their sustainability goals. Their first LEED certification was in 2005, and they have since increased their third-party green building certifications to 80 per cent of their portfolio. Given LEED’s strong market recognition and focus on performance, Manulife opted to use the new LEED v4.1 certification, and 1600 Carling Avenue stood out as an ideal candidate.

Canada’s First LEED v4.1 certification

Manulife Investment Management’s 1600 Carling Avenue is the first building in Canada certified under the LEED v4.1 for Operations and Maintenance—an update to LEED v4, the most rigorous green building rating system in the world. With v4.1, LEED has streamlined certification by focusing on five data-driven performance outcomes: transportation, water, energy, waste, and human experience. The new methodology streamlines the credits and prerequisites, making certification—and recertification—much more straightforward.

LEED v4.1 was a perfect fit for Manulife given the five performance outcomes aligned with the organization’s key priorities around efficiency, performance, and occupant/tenant comfort.

Reporting made easy

The advantages of LEED v4.1 for Manulife Investment Management were obvious. Overall, the new certification process was faster and more streamlined, resulting in less effort spent on documentation collection, and more focus on building performance. When one considers the size of Manulife Investment Management’s global portfolio—it includes 358 properties in 25 cities across nine countries—managing certification documentation requirements can be taxing for property teams.

To meet the LEED v4.1 reporting requirement, their Real Estate team leveraged LEED Online, which interfaces with Arc, a state-of-the-art platform designed to help building owners collect, manage, and benchmark data against the five LEED categories. Arc aligns with energy providers and GRESB, ensuring that reporting is less intensive while also decreasing the risk of human error. Portfolio-wide data can be entered, enabling Arc to provide estimated GRESB Scores for better global portfolio benchmarking. This helps the property team to identify issues and improve building portfolio performance.

The team started the certification process in October, submitted in November, was provided feedback in December, and the certification was awarded in January. Thanks to LEED v4.1’s streamlined approach, the process proved to be not only faster but also cost-effective, with Manulife Investment Management estimating they saved over half the cost of a typical LEED 2009 certification.

In addition to cost and time savings, under LEED v4.1, recertifications are valid for three years but require yearly data updates to be documented. This reporting cycle was much more manageable and corresponds with other corporate reporting that Manulife does as part of their energy, water and waste performance commitments.

Based on these efficiencies, and LEED’s reputation as the world’s leading green building rating system, Manulife Investment Management has registered and certified a number of buildings using v4.1. including 510 Burrard and 1095 West Pender in Vancouver and 100 Sheppard Ave. East, in Toronto.

Arc and LEED Online, combined with the streamlined LEED v4.1 process, are helping more of Manulife Investment Management’s real estate assets perform at the highest level and exhibit economic, environmental and social responsibility. More importantly, with better visibility into performance, and less focus on chasing paperwork, teams now feel more empowered to connect and collaborate as they work toward a higher quality of life for building occupants.

“With its broad yet simplified focus on water, waste, energy, and carbon, v4.1 aligns very well with Manulife Investment Management’s real estate sustainability targets and commitments. We want to focus on what really matters: efficiency, performance and our customer experience.”

Regan Smith, Director, Sustainability, Real Estate Manulife Investment Management

Canada Green Building Council

Website: Canada Green Building Council

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