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Triovest aspires to standardize sustainability in Canada

Real estate manager says it is on track to meet 2030 greenhouse gas target for office portfolio

Ali Hoss, the chief sustainability officer of Triovest, hopes to see Triovest Sustainability Solutions be a Canadian leader in sustainability. (Courtesy Triovest)

Triovest, a Toronto-based real estate investment management company, wants to make its sustainability planning the standard for the industry by sharing insights for every property in its portfolio with its peers.

Sharing best practices is critical to sustainability, Ali Hoss, the chief sustainability officer of Triovest, said in an interview with Sustainable Biz Canada.

Its Triovest Sustainability Solutions (TSS) team works to educate not just Triovest's own employees on ESG, but also provides building certifications, energy audits and decarbonization planning services to other companies.

The goal of TSS, Hoss said, is to “standardize the process across the country for every portfolio and all the clients we have.”

Triovest has a portfolio of primarily office and light industrial buildings valued between $13 billion and $14 billion and totaling over 43 million square feet as of 2022. It works with pension funds mainly as a third-party manager, operating in Canada.

Shaping sustainability governance at Triovest

The impetus for TSS came from Triovest observing that most industry players were figuring out how to disclose financial and ESG performance, and its recognition of climate issues as “part of Triovest’s fiduciary responsibility” Hoss said.

In response, Triovest formulated how it can look at climate change from a portfolio perspective.

“We reduce ESG mandates to just environmental sustainability, but for the most part ignore the importance of the governance aspect of achieving a very meaningful ESG strategy,” Hoss said.

TSS was created as an independent advisory line for integrating Triovest’s ESG practice across the company and fostering an improvement mindset at the property level. Its governance platform helps educate and train Triovest employees on ESG by creating the policies, best practices and workflows for actions such as decarbonization planning and climate risk assessments for existing buildings or new developments.

Hoss, who was just named one of the best executives in the category of sustainability and DEI by the Globe and Mail's Report on Business Magazine, declined to disclose names of clients that have used TSS.

ESG key performance indicators (KPIs) are integrated into the annual performance review and bonus structure of every Triovest employee so “everybody needs to have skin in the game.” It signals the long-term value creation for ESG performance, Hoss said.

How Triovest will meet its sustainability targets

The company has set a goal of being net-zero by 2050 across its entire portfolio. Steps to achieving that objective are a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 20 per cent reduction in energy consumption from its office portfolio by 2030, from a 2019 baseline.

Hoss summarized Triovest’s strategy as:

  • optimizing the operational efficiency of the mechanical and electrical systems in buildings using utility data management systems, energy analytics and building automation;
  • deep retrofits and electrification of building equipment;
  • minimizing the heating and cooling load of a building by improving the envelope;
  • on-site renewable energy generation through solar panels or off-site power purchase agreements; and
  • carbon offsets as a last resort.

Greenhouse gas intensity measured in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per square foot (kgCO₂e/sqft) dropped from 7.8 in 2019 to 2.9 in 2022, according to its 2023 sustainability report. Triovest notched a 63 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas intensity across its entire portfolio, with drops in every asset class except mid-rise office buildings.

Hoss said the decrease was driven by occupational changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, operational efficiency, new technologies and integrating sustainability into capital planning.

Triovest also marked a 16 per cent reduction in water use intensity and a 34 per cent cut in energy use intensity across its portfolio from the 2019 baseline. In waste reduction, Triovest reported a 10 per cent year-over-year reduction from 2021.

Hoss chose to highlight 1, 2 & 8 Prologis Blvd. in Mississauga, as properties that were certified as LEED Gold and BOMA BEST Gold for its green building elements, and the Cathedraltown development in Markham, Ont. that is being developed to meet Zero Carbon Building Design Certification standards.

Some of Triovest’s light-industrial properties under construction are net-zero or net-zero ready, he added, while a portion of its office properties are operating close to net-zero.

Thirty to forty per cent of Triovest’s properties have a net-zero carbon transition plan, Hoss said.

Climate risk is addressed by Triovest’s bespoke climate risk assessment guideline to identify stressors and KPIs, and lay out how the company will tackle the problem.

More data, more green buildings as next steps

Triovest is on track to meet its 2030 greenhouse gas target for its office portfolio, according to Hoss. But inflation forced the company to be “smart with how we deploy capital,” he said. Now, smart and proactive asset management is prioritized, as well as data collection.

“Decarbonization without digitization is impossible.”

A target for 2025 is to have ESG data coverage for the entire Triovest portfolio. As of 2022, the company covers 77 per cent of its portfolio for greenhouse gas data and 78 per cent for energy use, but 49 per cent for water consumption and 43 per cent for waste.

Currently standing at under 10 employees, Triovest also plans to grow the TSS team.

As part of its 2021-2024 Sustainability Strategic Plan, Triovest will incorporate ESG issues into its “investment analyses, decision-making processes, and ownership policies and practices,” according to its 2023 sustainability report.

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