Sustainable Biz Canada

‘Doing the right thing': Morguard earns more LEAP awards


Two recent awards for Morguard Investments Ltd. properties in Calgary and Vancouver illustrate the company’s commitment and focus on sustainability practices – a road it embarked upon about eight years ago.

Image: Morguard's Robson Central at 969 Robson St., in Vancouver.

Morguard’s Robson Central at 969 Robson St., in Vancouver. (Google Street View image)

The company was recognized by Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan with two Leadership in Environmental Advancement Program Awards (the HOOPP LEAP Awards). Morguard had earned 14 of the awards across nine categories since the program’s initiation in 2012.

Christine Wickett, manager of corporate sustainability and responsibility for Morguard, said the awards really reflect the company’s fundamental philosophy.

“We believe in doing the right thing, which includes responsible property investing with partners like HOOPP. So these awards offer recognition that we are on the right path. It’s the fifth consecutive year that Morguard’s been recognized by HOOPP for our performance and our focus on sustainability best practices.

“And it really helps us recognize the great work that the property and tenants are doing together as well. It demonstrates that we have a strong focus on innovation, collaboration and engagement, which are really key items right now.”

Energy Saver, Tenant Leader awards

Morguard was recognized for excellence in the following categories: Energy Saver: Performance Award for Robson Central in Vancouver; and the Tenant Leader: Commercial Award for BluEarth Renewables and 11th Avenue Place in Calgary.

Wickett said Morguard focuses on developing value for its customers and aligning with the interests of stakeholders by creating best practices in the field.

“Also, making sure that when we’re participating in these programs we’re not just doing what we think is best in operations and maintenance,” said Wickett. “I think a lot of companies really focus on what they call the low-hanging fruit. And what we’re doing is, we’re creating a collaborative environment not just with our operations team at the properties but also with our tenants, with our stakeholders, with the communities in which our properties lie and that’s really important in looking at the future of responsible property investing.”

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Sustainable Morguard is embedded in the company’s organizational structure. Its objectives include:

– decreasing energy and water use;

– reducing waste and emissions;

– creating excellent energy and environmental management to achieve green building certification;

– collecting consistent data that tracks and validates its performance;

– and reporting transparency.

Energy reductions save $2.6 million

The results speak for themselves.

Between 2015 and 2017, energy consumption has dropped from 535 million equivalent kilowatt hours (ekWh) to 514 million for a savings of $2.6 million. There has been a 4.5 per cent reduction in water consumption and a 5.1 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. There has also been a 4.3 per cent increase in total waste recycled.

“We’ve got a sustainability committee that we’ve been revamping, helping us to better understand what we’re doing from property to property,” said Wickett. “That innovation, collaboration and engagement piece is really becoming more important now when you’re looking at best practice sustainability strategies.

“The sustainability committee helps us to both identify gaps and opportunities for improvement, but also to be able to share those ideas and inspirational settings.”

Robson Central in Vancouver

Morguard received the HOOPP LEAP Energy Saver: Performance Award for the outstanding reduction in energy consumption in 2017 at Robson Central – a 20 per cent reduction in normalized energy intensity in 2017 versus the previous year. The building’s 2017 energy spend was 54.2 ekWh per square foot, down from 68.6 ekWh/sf in 2016 in the 130,000-square-foot class-A office building.

Morguard’s strategy for Robson Central involved implementing a direct digital control system, innovative analytics software used to continuously monitor and improve building performance and energy consumption.

The integration of a single building management system platform was required to increase building efficiencies while maintaining the required comfort levels for tenants.

The building was also recommissioned to ensure equipment and systems operated optimally, through a rigorous investigative approach to identifying problems and systems integration issues.

It also included the installation of variable speed drivers on the heating and cooling systems to increase efficiency and reduce energy consumption, the installation of sub meters for all tenants, and base building equipment to provide accurate data and monitor utility usage.

11th Avenue Place, Calgary

Morguard received the Tenant Leader: Commercial Award for exceptional collaboration between the property manager at 11th Avenue Place and tenant BluEarth Renewables.

The LEAP Award recognizes and celebrates the property’s excellence in energy performance and environmental sustainability. It came as a result of renovations including the installation of electrical vehicle charging stations, the construction of bike storage lockers and cages, on-site fitness and shared conference facilities, and the installation of utility sub-metering to allow accurate readings of consumption among other energy efficient savvy initiatives.

The 200,000-square-foot class-A office building was built in 2015.

Through initiatives such as active recycling and composting, the building has become a model of conscious engagement with environmental initiatives resulting in long-term impacts, said Morguard.

Morguard began to look more closely at sustainability practices overall in 2010.

Wickett said the company has three pillars to its strategy – being responsible to its investors, ensuring efficient operations of its properties, and collaborating with its community to create a safe and healthy environment.

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Mario Toneguzzi

About the Author ()

Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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