In an unprecedented move, five major private real estate companies have voluntarily disclosed data on energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and water use from more than 700 buildings in their portfolios. Collectively, the five companies oversee upwards of $50 billion in managed real estate assets, which is approximately 10% of the estimated value of the large real estate holdings held by private and public entities in Canada, according to the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), which championed the initiative.
Ontario remains the only jurisdiction in Canada to mandate energy benchmarking. The Reporting of Energy Consumption and Water Use Regulation (O. Reg. 506/18) requires large commercial and multi-unit residential buildings to report on building energy and water consumption and emissions intensity. The process is intended to encourage investment in energy conservation by arming owners, prospective tenants and investors with comparative data. The hope was that Ontario’s regulation would prompt other provinces to follow suit, but so far it has not.
The CaGBC and the five participants, QuadReal Property Group, Triovest Realty Advisors Inc., Concert Properties Ltd., Colliers International, and the Minto Group, are now calling on federal and provincial governments to implement consistent building data disclosure regulations.
In the United States, benchmarking is common, but it is imposed through a patchwork of municipal and state regulations. A plan by the City of Toronto to require benchmarking was one of the driving forces behind the Ontario regulation. Many in the building industry see benchmarking as inevitable and would prefer a consistent program nationwide to differing provincial and municipal requirements.
Despite voluntarily participating in this initiative, the five participants found that even they had difficulty accessing needed data for their own properties. Complete data were available for fewer than half of the buildings. The CaGBC says this illustrates the challenge facing even motivated building owners and managers.
“Without clear government mandates like those in Ontario, it is challenging to access enough data to enable policymakers and regulators to monitor how buildings across their jurisdictions are performing and assess the impacts of energy and GHG emissions reduction policies. We need that information in order to be able to ensure we are succeeding in lowering our GHG emissions," said Brian McCauley, president and chief executive officer of Concert Properties Ltd., in a statement.