stats Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels


  This site         Tips

  The Web Google


  Where to Find It

Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business



Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store

Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business




  Arts & Entertainment



   Headline Index

 Other Sections

  Births & Deaths






  Facts & Arguments




  Real Estate









  Food & Dining




  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...


   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site



  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us



 Web Site

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


Sustainability standards reach new heights
Climate change among factors prompting developers to seek environmental measures in construction and maintenance
Special to The Globe and Mail

Email this article Print this article
Tuesday, November 27, 2018 – Page B8

Is Canada a green leader or a LEED laggard when it comes to building for climate change and the 21st-century environment? One of Canada's biggest commercial developers hopes to Stack the deck.

Oxford Properties Group is building the Stack officer tower in downtown Vancouver - the largest development now under way in that city and one of the first high-rise buildings in Canada to be built to the "net zero carbon" emissions standard.

The project, whose ownership is shared equally by Oxford and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, will meet the standard launched last year by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), which also licenses the betterknown LEED (leadership in environmental excellence and design) standards, which recognize different levels of sustainability in construction and maintenance.

"This has never been done in an office tower in Canada before," says Daniel O'Donnell, Oxford Properties' director of media.

Construction will begin next year on the Class AAA, 540,000square-foot office development, which will be 161.5 metres high and 36 storeys, making it the tallest in the city, with completion scheduled for 2022.

Net zero carbon is a big - and necessary - step forward for commercial construction in a world that will be buffeted more and more by climate change, with Canada not excluded, says Andrew McAllan, Oxford's head of real estate management and former chair of CaGBC.

"There's a convergence of interests in sustainable building.

Some are altruistic and some are just good, old-fashioned capitalism," he says.

On the capitalism side, the Stack has already secured preleases for 207,00 square feet - more than a third of the building, which is still on the drawing board. Three major tenants are on board: Ernst & Young LLP, and major law firms Blakes and DLA Piper.

It is also in developers' self-interest to cater to environmentfriendly trends, such as building in downtown areas closer to where office workers live, and to add amenities, such as easy-to-reach facilities for storing bicycles and parking shared cars, Mr.

McAllan says.

On the altruistic side, being at the forefront of the movement toward zero net carbon commercial construction helps Canada meet its commitments to reducing emissions under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

To meet the new standard, buildings such as the Stack must offset all the greenhouse gases they emit in operations - whether by producing clean, renewable energy onsite or securing it from offsite sources such as wind, solar or hydroelectric facilities.

This is more important than ever in light of increasingly alarming evidence that climate change is contributing to or causing extreme weather events.

On Nov. 23, 13 U.S. government departments and agencies released their fourth comprehensive national climate assessment, which includes a dire warning.

Damage from climate change will slash the U.S. economy by as much as 10 per cent by 2100 unless action is taken.

The projected 10-per-cent drop in gross domestic product is nearly double the losses that followed the recession after the 2008 global economy crash. Canada is highly dependent on U.S. trade, with both countries and Mexico about to ratify a new North American free-trade agreement (the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement).

The 1,656 page report was made public by U.S. President Donald Trump's White House, even though the Trump administration has pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement and slashed environmental regulations, which critics say will cause greenhouse emissions and pollution to rise.

With this environmental mess on the horizon, how does Canada fare in the race to build more environmentally sustainable commercial buildings or upgrade existing ones? Generally we're doing well but there's a lot of heavy lifting still to be done, experts say.

"Overall, Canada ranks very high in terms of green building construction. Since 2004, the CaGBC has certified over 3,600 LEED buildings in Canada and registered over 7,600," says Trevor McLeod, building automation and energy specialist at Starlight Investments, a Toronto-based institutional investor that holds stakes in real estate across North America.

"We have the second highest number of LEED projects anywhere in the world, second only to the United States. This is a huge accomplishment and we should be proud, but we could always do more if the political and public will is there," he says.

"More than ever, sustainability is now in the conversation with regard to building design or retrofits, so things are moving in the right direction."

Nevertheless, "the speed at which we are doing so could be greatly improved if we are to hit our Paris climate agreement targets on time or even surpass them," Mr. McLeod adds. The Paris Agreement, which Ottawa ratified in 2016, requires Canada to cut nationwide carbon emissions by 2030 below the levels that were emitted in 2005.

Mr. McAllan and Mr. McLeod both say that commercial developers are in tune with the need to address climate change and sustainability in their building practices, while residential builders tend to lag.

"Building owners are already having to adjust construction for erratic weather," Mr. McLeod says.

"Regulators are passing legislation to bring about across-theboard change but you also see lenders and insurers see the potential risk association with climate change," he adds.

"Owners see the potential for higher rates of occupancy for longer and at a higher price per square foot in a green-certified building, and tenants see the benefits in higher employee productivity and retention, and reduced sick days and energy use."

He also notes that, "the Canadian government has mandated that all new commercial leases be within LEED-certified spaces."

There's still a lot more to be done, because Canada has so many commercial buildings that will need to be retrofitted to deal with climate change. But the future for green building in Canada will be interesting, to say the least, Mr. McLeod says.

"With the internet of things coming of age and the price of sensors falling, it might be something like The Jetsons. Green building will evolve in some dramatic ways to reduce our energy and environmental impact, and I think that is something to be excited about," he says.

Associated Graphic

The Stack office tower, to be Vancouver's tallest at 36 storeys, features an intricate stacked box design and a 'net zero carbon' emissions building standard.


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main William_Johnson Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.


7-Day Site Search

Breaking News

Today's Weather


Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes

Where Manley is going with his first budget



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
Margaret Wente arrow
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game

Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
Mathew Ingram arrow
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
Andrew Willis arrow

Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
Eric Duhatschek arrow
Allan Maki arrow
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
 The Arts

John Doyle arrow
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
Johanna Schneller arrow

Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
Paul Knox arrow
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
William Thorsell arrow

Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page