The CaGBC Releases the Results of its Disclosure Challenge

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) released the results of its Disclosure Challenge, an initiative designed to champion the importance of energy benchmarking and data transparency in the Canadian commercial real estate market.

The results have CaGBC and initiative participants, including QuadReal, Triovest Realty Advisors Inc., Concert Properties Ltd., Colliers International, and the Minto Group calling on federal and provincial governments to implement consistent building data disclosure regulations and requirements.

The Disclosure Challenge demonstrates the power and market potential of sharing data in an interactive and coordinated way.

“When collected and shared, building performance information becomes a powerful dataset that can drive significant emissions reductions, energy efficiencies and cost savings. However, these improvements are only made possible when access to reliable building performance data is provided to owners, occupants, and legislators,” says the CaGBC’s website.

The urgent need for publicly available data prompted CaGBC to launch the Disclosure Challenge in March 2019. Since then, its industry volunteer participants have demonstrated their leadership by disclosing building information including energy use, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and water use data from over 700 buildings.

The United Nations says that buildings account for nearly one third of global GHGs, and in Vancouver and Toronto, buildings contribute to approximately 50 per cent of each city’s current total emissions.

For Canada to reach its emissions reduction targets and transition to a low-carbon economy over the next decade, it is essential that existing buildings achieve significant energy efficiency improvements.

One of the barriers to meeting these goals is the current lack of publicly available data on commercial building performance in the country, according to the CaGBC.

Owners and operators in cities are already successfully implementing energy benchmarking and data transparency programs across the United States along with jurisdictions in Europe and Australia.

“Canada clearly needs to catch up quickly when it comes to benchmarking, reporting, and disclosing data. Access to building performance data has enabled owners in other jurisdictions to make more informed choices about investing in retrofits,” said Thomas Mueller, CEO and President of CaGBC. “Canadian markets require data transparency to drive investment in efficiency programs and create demand for higher performing buildings.”

While energy benchmarking regulations are in effect in Ontario, the Challenge marked the first time Canadian real estate owners have voluntarily disclosed their Canada-wide portfolio data.

The CaGBC’s five participants have publicly disclosed available data for over 11 million square meters of space in buildings spread across the country from Victoria to Halifax including offices, warehouses, residential apartment buildings and retail shops.

The topline Disclosure Challenge results, reported in Full Disclosure: Industry Leadership on Transparency, reinforce the importance of having industry requirements for data transparency.

Less than half (46 per cent) of the buildings disclosed as part of the Challenge had complete data available, with significant gaps in the retail, warehouse, and industrial sectors.

Without government mandates to drive the disclosure of data across the country from buildings of all types, the CaGBC says it is unlikely owners will be able to see the full picture required to achieve the best outcomes for their portfolios and to help Canada reach its emissions targets.

“Through the Disclosure Challenge, you see five real estate companies that are not only voluntarily pledging to be transparent about our building data but are also demonstrating a commitment to the responsible management of our assets and, ultimately, to energy and emissions reductions. Transparency is good for markets, and we believe it will accelerate year-over-year improvements in building performance so that Canada can achieve its target of 30 per cent carbon reduction by 2030. We encourage more companies to join and disclose,” said Jamie Gray-Donald, Senior Vice President, Sustainability, QuadReal.

The full report can be viewed on CaGBC’s website.