News & Events

Recognizing Carbon Leadership: DIALOG Supports Achievement of Zero Carbon Building – Performance Standard™ Certification for Renfrew Centre

May 2, 2024

DIALOG’s collaboration with Alberta Investment Management Corporation and Epic Investment Services emphasizes the importance of zero-carbon building operations in reducing carbon emissions, while showcasing the benefits for both the environment and interested parties, including investors, tenants, and community members. Through a focused decarbonization initiative and partnerships with local initiatives like the Cheakamus Community Forest, the Renfrew Centre sets a precedent for responsible real estate management and environmental stewardship.

Why Zero Carbon Building Operations?

In Canada, building operations are responsible for 17% of the country’s carbon emissions. Reducing the footprint of the buildings sector represents a significant opportunity for our industry to advance climate goals. Furthermore, adopting zero-carbon building operations offer a number of benefits to building owners and operators, such as:

  • Demonstrating leadership to institutional investors that require Environmental, Social, and Governance reporting.
  • Life cycle cost savings and avoidance of climate ‘transition risk’, especially when factoring in avoided carbon tax and volatility in energy utility costs.
  • Responding to the growing tenant demand for highly efficient, low carbon office spaces. (Currently there are 3,087 companies globally with science-based net-zero commitments)

That’s why we’re proud to highlight the collaborative efforts between DIALOG, Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), and Epic Investment Services (Epic) in achieving Zero Carbon Building – Performance Standard™ Certification from the Canada Green Building Council for the Renfrew Centre in Vancouver.

Renfrew Centre. Image courtesy of Epic.

The Renfrew Centre and Working with Epic and AIMCo:

AIMCo is one of Canada’s largest and most diversified institutional investment managers with $160.6 billion in assets under management. Epic is a fully integrated real estate platform, managing over $13 billion in assets and more than 22 million square feet of space in office, retail, industrial and multi-family properties.

The Renfrew Centre, a landmark 170,000 square foot, 7 storey “AAA” office building, is located in the heart of Metro Vancouver. To support AIMCo & Epic in transitioning the Renfrew Centre to zero carbon operations, DIALOG completed an Energy Audit of the existing building. The assessment aimed to determine energy and carbon performance, and recommended energy efficiency measures that would support further improvement.

Key building features that enable the energy efficient, low carbon operations at Renfrew include:

  • All-electric design with high performance HVAC and lighting, and energy recovery.
  • High performance opaque building envelope with mix of double- and triple-pane glazing.
  • Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) heat pumps and electric boilers for domestic hot water.

Image courtesy of Cheakamus Community Forest.

DIALOG also provided sustainability consulting to facilitate obtaining the CAGBC Zero Carbon Building – Performance Standard™ certification. This third-party certification provides additional validity to the reduced environmental impacts of the building and demonstrates excellence in the industry.

“Achieving the ZCB Performance Standard™ certification for Renfrew Centre is a significant highlight in Epic’s decarbonization program and a testament to our property management team’s effort to continually optimize energy performance and focus on sustainability.  We are energized by what we learned through the process alongside our partners, and we look forward to sharing and celebrating this recognition with our tenants and our community,” said Nada Sutic, Vice President of Sustainability, Innovation and National Programs at Epic.

Purchasing Local and High Impact Carbon Offsets with Cheakamus Community Forest:

The purchasing of carbon offsets was part of the approach to achieving zero carbon operations at Renfrew Centre. However, this endeavour went beyond mere compliance; it aimed to deliver on social value. Partnering with the Cheakamus Community Forest, a non-profit society governed by representatives from the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Lil’wat, and Squamish Nations, we ensured that the offsets purchased contribute to local environmental initiatives. The Cheakamus Community Forest efforts generate independently verified carbon offset credits, thus supporting net greenhouse gas reductions achieved through improved forest management practices across 33,000 hectares of land.

“We’re inspired to see the leadership of AIMCo and Epic in taking the Renfrew Centre to a zero-carbon level of performance.  Transitioning the buildings sector to net-zero is absolutely essential and projects like this one demonstrate that it can be done in a way that adds both social and environmental value.  Connecting real estate to projects that build nature-based assets and community is especially meaningful,” said Charles Marshall, Partner from DIALOG.

The achievement of a zero-carbon balance exemplifies a proactive approach towards sustainable development. By prioritizing energy efficiency and engaging in community partnerships, this initiative sets a precedent for responsible real estate management.

Lead image courtesy of Epic.