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QuadReal pledges net-zero by 2050 for global portfolio

QuadReal Property Group's World Exchange Plaza in downtown Ottawa is expected to exemplify the company's new climate goals with a revitalization the firm expects will result in strong energy performance. (Courtesy QuadReal Property Group)

QuadReal Property Group, a real estate developer and investor headquartered in Vancouver, has announced it is targeting net-zero by 2050 for its global portfolio, and a short-term goal of cutting its emissions by 50 per cent by 2030.

The company’s 2050 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goal follows a pledge made in 2016 to reduce its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 across its Canadian operations. In a press release, QuadReal says it will use “key learnings” from its efforts to achieve that goal to “accelerate and deepen its sustainability goals in both its Canadian and international assets.”

QuadReal manages global assets of $67.1 billion and is one of the largest real estate investors in the world. It is owned by the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation and is the institutional investor's real estate arm.

Today's announcement sets out a revised timetable for QuadReal's climate targets:

  • By 2025, it will seek to have net-zero property-level plans in place for its global portfolio.
  • QuadReal says it will work to halve the carbon emissions of its directly managed portfolio by 2030. Its directly managed portfolio encompasses all landlord utilities and QuadReal’s corporate emissions.
  • By 2040, QuadReal says it will aspire to have all its Canadian offices be net-zero and achieve a 50 per cent reduction of carbon emissions in its international portfolio, including all tenant utilities and embodied carbon from new development and refurbishment.
  • By 2050, QuadReal plans to reach net-zero across its global portfolio, including all property emissions at the landlord, tenant and residential levels.

“As active managers, expanding our carbon reduction targets to net zero across our entire portfolio will allow us to meet and exceed our fiduciary responsibility to all our stakeholders and clients, and help lead the market in innovation and execution,” said Lucy Fletcher, managing director of Global Portfolio Management at QuadReal in the press release.

Means of reaching net-zero

QuadReal intends to reach net-zero by replacing energy audits with carbon audits to inform property-level net-zero transition plans; carbon reductions at the property level by replacing fossil fuels with low-carbon electricity and installing building energy efficiency upgrades; and buying carbon offsets to cover up to 10 per cent of baseline emissions.

QuadReal expects its building efficiency upgrades to reduce its emissions by 40 per cent, based on previous retrofits.

The real estate investor says its net-zero targets align with The Climate Pledge, The Race to Zero Campaign and carbon reduction goals set by the International Panel on Climate Change. It claims its strategy will cover Scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions.

Canadian property-level plans are expected to be in place by 2025. 

Some sustainable building success stories QuadReal points to include energy efficiency upgrades at 200 King Street in Toronto that cut GHG emissions by 62.6 per cent since 2007, and an expected 80 per cent reduction in GHG emissions at Vancouver’s Park Place office through a heat recovery system and energy efficiency upgrades.

The company says it will continue to share its tools and programs with groups like the Canadian Climate Institute, the Net-Zero Advisory Body, the Canadian Green Building Council, Center for Active Design and Fitwel to help others in the real estate industry reach net-zero and mitigate climate risk.

“Just as green-certified buildings have outperformed in the past decade, we believe net-zero buildings will outperform the market in the coming decade,” said Jamie Gray-Donald, senior vice president of sustainability and environmental, health and safety at QuadReal. “Our pathway to net zero includes very specific interim targets to help inform next steps at the property level and will be applied to all the real estate we manage.

"We are also committed to being transparent in our approach and measurement tools so we can help lead the real estate industry in the transition to a net-zero economy.”

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