CAGBC’s Disclosure Challenge puts the spotlight on data
Findings support the call for a Building Data focus in Canada’s Green Buildings Strategy
October 26, 2022 – Ottawa, ON – With the release of the latest data from its Disclosure Challenge, the Canada Green Building Council (CAGBC) renews calls for a national benchmarking and data disclosure approach.
The new report, entitled Full Disclosure – Real Estate’s Climate Leadership in Action, highlights how data transparency, benchmarking and building labelling must become standard practice for building operations. Access to accurate and standardized building data can help uncover viable pathways toward energy efficiency and low-carbon operations for all building types.
Launched in 2019, the Disclosure Challenge called on real-estate leaders to publicly disclose the performance of their building portfolio, including available energy, GHG emissions, and water data. The Challenge launched with Concert Properties Ltd., Colliers, the Minto Group, QuadReal Property Group, and Triovest, and has since expanded to include Brookfield Properties, the City of Ottawa, Golden Properties, Hudson Pacific Properties, KingSett Capital, LaSalle Investment Management, and SHAPE Properties. Together, these organizations have disclosed data from over 900 buildings – accounting for 17 million m2 of floor space.
Access to reliable data can raise awareness of carbon reductions, measure retrofit outcomes, and help inform policies and programs supporting the decarbonization of Canada’s buildings – including the federal government’s Green Buildings Strategy. The idea is not new – the 2018 House of Commons and Senate reports recommended that benchmarking and data disclosure activities be regulated nationally.
Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom already have mandatory laws designed to collect building data, for example, Australia’s Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act 2010. While how they collect data and label buildings differ, the programs bring to light the data needed to enact meaningful improvements in their buildings’ energy efficiency and carbon footprint.
With three years of data, including during 2020 when the COVID-19 global pandemic directly impacted building occupancy, the Challenge enabled real estate owners to identify trends and insights related to energy use in office and multi-residential buildings and documented improved energy carbon intensity values for buildings in Alberta. In addition, the Challenge demonstrated that a disclosure and data-sharing approach for public or private real-estate managers is possible in any jurisdiction in Canada.
Yet barriers still exist, especially for specific building types. For example, industrial, warehouse and retail buildings found it more challenging to access complete performance data. This could be due to tenants that paid their utility bills, campus-style energy distribution where one energy meter feeds multiple buildings or a lack of direct data connections between the utility providers and data management systems. Finding a solution that provides better whole-building data collection for all building types will be essential to ensure the benefits of data collection and monitoring are fully realized.
Where we go
Increasing data transparency will help the building sector identify buildings needing zero-carbon retrofits and enable more informed choices about where to invest retrofit dollars. Backed by data, the resulting boom in deep carbon retrofit activity will foster sector innovation, create jobs, and leave future generations with better buildings for both people and the planet.
Data access will also make it easier for commercial real estate companies to measure themselves against their net-zero carbon targets and stated environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives. However, this requires standardized building data that is reliable and easy to access, including (but not limited) to water and energy consumption, waste, and GHG emissions.
Policy-makers also have a role to play. Access to building data can inform their efforts to develop programs that support practical carbon-reduction actions. CAGBC has called on the government to support the implementation of standardized energy benchmarking, disclosure and rating systems in provinces and territories or to provide a national one they could join. This strategy can be accomplished quickly with tools such as Arc Skoru, a globally recognized building performance platform.
To date, only Ontario requires public reporting of building energy data. Still, the City of Edmonton, the City of Winnipeg, the City of Montreal, the City of Ottawa, and the Province of Nova Scotia have developed voluntary approaches to whole-building data and have been actively working on benchmarking programs or plans.
The commitment of the participants in the Disclosure Challenge over the past three years illustrates so clearly the importance of building-level data to making informed portfolio-wide decisions. As we work towards 2030 and 2050 climate change targets, the Disclosure Challenge shows us that understanding and reporting on portfolio-wide building performance is critical in focusing investments on existing buildings to improving energy efficiency and lowering carbon emissions.
President and CEO, CAGBC
At Colliers, the availability of quality and timely data is critical to our success and helps us drive operational improvements across the portfolios we manage. We are proud to have been among the first participants in the Disclosure Challenge and fully support the need for greater levels data transparency across the commercial real-estate industry. Greater access and availability of industry wide performance data for all stakeholders is fundamental to improving resource use efficiency and emissions reductions in our building stock, in support of national climate targets.
Vice President and Head of ESG, Colliers
Golden Properties is pleased to be a part of the Disclosure Challenge for the second year running. We are proud of the collaboration between our Property Management and Operations teams that has allowed us to achieve fantastic results in reducing our carbon emissions. We believe and hope that openness of data will encourage and motivate others to increase efforts for energy efficiency. We thank CAGBC for facilitating this process.
Director of Operations, Golden Properties
At Hudson Pacific, we are committed to leadership in sustainability, and we know that transparency is an important part of that. We are pleased to participate in the knowledge sharing that is taking place among our peers through CAGBC’s Disclosure Challenge and look forward to continuing this collaboration moving forward.
Senior Vice President of Western Canada, Hudson Pacific Properties
KingSett is proud to partner with the CaGBC and other industry leaders to help further building performance benchmarking, labelling and data transparency across the country. High quality data is the foundation of creating robust strategies to decarbonize the built environment and drive change.
Vice President Sustainability & Resilience, KingSett
Access to whole building data and ongoing benchmarking are critical components to understanding building energy performance, identifying opportunities and creating positive outcomes for real estate investments. We believe that practices such as tracking emissions and increasing energy efficiency are not only good business, but the right thing to do for our planet. Significant progress is only achievable if data collection and sharing is a standard practice in the real estate industry.
Americas Head of Sustainability, LaSalle Investment Management
As a resource-intensive industry, we know that the operations of our buildings impact the environment. By reducing water and energy consumption, lowering carbon emissions, minimizing waste, and investing in renewable energy and innovation, we act as responsible stewards of the environment—working hard to meet the highest possible standards. One of the important ways we are fulfilling on these commitments is through our participation in the CABGC Disclosure Challenge. By being transparent and sharing reliable building utility data with others across our industry we believe we can help everyone achieve better building performance.
Senior Vice President Operations, Minto Properties
The City of Ottawa’s Better Buildings Strategy identifies emissions benchmarking as a foundational element of a low carbon transition. Tenants, investors, and stakeholders deserve transparency into the emissions of the buildings in their city.
City of Ottawa Climate Change Unit
We understand the importance and need for climate action and benchmarking in the Disclosure Challenge is a vital step to achieving our goals.
Director of Facilities, Operations & Maintenance – Shape Management
Performance disclosure and data transparency are powerful drivers of accelerated growth in ESG investing and promote a greater focus on net zero carbon operation and climate resiliency in a post-COVID-19 market.
Vice President of Sustainability and Innovation, Triovest
QuadReal believes transparent marketplaces perform better and through the CAGBC’s Disclosure Challenge we have been publicly sharing the energy and carbon performance of the buildings we manage and encouraging our industry peers to follow suit. Having reliable and timely data allows our teams to continuously improve operations and to stay proactive when it comes to sustainability. From this data, we have generated significant cutbacks in energy and carbon usage leading to a reduction in utility bills for tenants and residents and overall improvements to performance for our clients. Scaling up benchmarking tools across Canada is a key step towards a prosperous net zero economy and we are proud to partner with the CAGBC on this important initiative.
President Canadian Real Estate, QuadReal