Five years into its quarter-century sustainability program, Morguard Corporation is throwing around some pretty impressive numbers regarding performance improvements in environmental, social and governance initiatives.
“Whether you look at energy and cost reductions, risk mitigation through future-proofing assets, or making real estate more attractive to tenants because of more qualitative benefits like employee performance and brand image, there are several factors that are leading people to ask for this, and Morguard definitely wants to use that thrust to become a leader in the space,” said strategic initiatives and sustainability director Derek Billsman.
Energy, water and GHG reductions
The real estate and property management company has reduced its energy use by 11.4 per cent since 2010, while water consumption is down 22.3 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions have dropped 19.6 per cent, according to its newly released Global Reporting Initiative-aligned sustainability report.
In 2014 alone, Morguard’s Canadian office and retail properties had reductions of 3.9 per cent in energy, 4.9 per cent in water and 4.7 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions through such initiatives as new mechanical systems, lighting retrofits, recladding, recommissioning of building systems, energy audits and certifications.
Electricity and natural gas are the primary areas where Morguard’s property professionals implement sustainability programs that create cost savings for owners and tenants. Management teams, in conjunction with owners, have established strategic plans aimed at improving building efficiency and meeting tenants’ needs.
“It’s not me and my group who are making energy and water reductions, it’s the building operators and people on the ground who are working at the buildings every single day,” said Billsman. “I think that’s a testament to their hard work that we’re seeing the progress that we’re seeing.”
Morguard’s Canadian office and retail properties recycled 50.7 per cent of the waste they generated in 2014, compared to 44.4 per cent in 2013 and 40.3 per cent in 2010. Significant improvements were made at enclosed shopping centres, especially in food courts, last year.
Morguard seeks Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification as a minimum on all new development projects and had three buildings certified LEED Gold last year, increasing its number of LEED properties to 10. Another nine projects are targeting certification.
The Mississauga-based company also has 48 BOMA BESt-certified office and retail properties and 23 Certified Rental Buildings-certified residential properties, which represent more than 7,200 suites.
“They show that we’re doing the due diligence and the work and we’re good managers,” Billson said of the certifications.
Morguard’s major 2015 sustainability efforts include rolling out EnergyStar Portfolio Manager — an online tool used to measure and track energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions — across the company’s office buildings. It’s also putting a big push on to meet the Global Reporting Initiative’s new G4 reporting standards.
“A really holistic, integrated, corporate-wide program is really going to help us improve the dialogue we’re having with our clients,” said Billson. “It’s not super flashy, but it’s a really important part of making sure that we have employees who are doing great work.”
Corporate Knights recognition
All of these efforts have enabled Morguard to be named a “Future 40 Responsible Corporate Leader in Canada” by Corporate Knights, a media and investment research company that recognizes Canadian corporate up-and-comers that are top sustainability performers.
It was the second straight year that the company received the honour after scoring well based on 12 key performance indicators within resource, financial and employee management.
Morguard has extensive retail, office, industrial and residential holdings owned directly and through its investment in Morguard REIT (MRT.UN-T) and Morguard North American Residential REIT (MRG.UN-T).
It also provides real estate management and equities investment services to institutional and other investors. The company’s owned and managed portfolio of assets is valued at more than $19 billion.