“Our overall strategy hasn’t shifted much since we set it back in 2010,” said corporate sustainability and responsibility national manager Neil Pegram, who leads Morguard’s sustainability program companywide.
“However, the types of initiatives are always changing. The first few years were very data- and process-focused, and we are now on the implementation and trying to get to measurement and value.”
Sustainable Morguard program
The Sustainable Morguard program strives to identify and implement initiatives across the fully integrated real estate company’s $15.6-billion portfolio to ensure its business models and properties contribute to sustainable communities, now and in the future.
“Every asset type and property is unique,” said Pegram. “We select initiatives that target savings but depend on leasing, operational control and ownership structure.
“What works in an industrial warehouse doesn’t necessarily relate to an enclosed shopping centre. We encourage property management to work with asset management and clients to set forward-looking capital plans with sustainability and value as key indicators of success.”
Morguard initiatives resulted in a measureable reduction in energy, water and waste since the baseline year of 2010 through the delivery of projects that were right-sized for each property within Morguard’s owned and managed Canadian office and enclosed shopping centre portfolio.
2015 environmental achievements
The biggest environmental achievements in 2015 included:
* reducing energy use by more than 42 million equivalent kilowatt hours, enough to power 3,764 homes;
* reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 6.5 per cent, equivalent to eliminating those emissions in more than 1,480 passenger vehicles;
* reducing water use by 1.8 per cent, equivalent to 13 Olympic-sized swimming pools;
* and recycling more than 50 per cent of the waste generated in 76 properties.
Morguard’s goal is for its buildings to reach net zero energy use by 2035 through partnering with tenants and clients and applying solutions to reduce their combined environmental footprint.
“Our current challenge right now is embedding sustainability indicators into investor client disclosure and reporting,” Pegram said of a 2016 area of focus.
“Our investors are one of our most important stakeholders and they need to have clear information about the performance of their properties along with insights from asset management on the strengths and weaknesses of the property from a sustainability perspective. Without quality insights, they can’t make sustainability decisions.”
Morguard’s report is a self-declared Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Application Level B and includes Construction and Real Estate Sector Supplement (CRESS) indicators both steps toward establishing a recognized international standard for sustainability reporting.
Certifications and awards
Morguard certified 10 properties through BOMA BESt in 2015, increasing its total to 65, and targeted nine projects for LEED certification. The company also received nine green building awards and has been named one of Canada’s safest retail and services employers for three straight years.
“Certifications and awards are the clearest way we can demonstrate to stakeholders that we have processes behind our property sustainability initiatives,” said Pegram.
“They allow tenants and investors to ‘check the box’ and give a proxy on our management, and a consistent level of assurance on our practices. They also give us a framework to help target best practices.”
Tenant satisfaction and teamwork
Morguard undertakes joint reviews regarding the fulfillment of its operational plans and sustainability programs and conducts formal tenant satisfaction surveys. Its managed properties outperformed the Altus InSite industry benchmark of market norms in every key area.
Teamwork among management, employees, clients, tenants and the communities in which Morguard operates are crucial to its sustainability efforts, according to Pegram, who sees the company’s efforts as part of a bigger picture.
“Large organizations around the world may seem slow to change but are huge levers and are moving in the right direction. No one organization can be sustainable on its own, and we are all in the journey together.”
Morguard has extensive retail, office, industrial, multi-suite residential and hotel holdings owned directly or through investment in Morguard REIT (MRT.UN-T) and Morguard North American Residential REIT (MRG.UN-T). It also provides real estate management services to institutional and other investors.