Sustainability and the Real Estate Sector

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Finding the link between green initiatives and economic feasibility

Canada’s real estate industry continues to face growing pressure to design energy-efficient assets and retrofit existing buildings to meet the growing demands to be "green." As a result, embracing green technologies and lowering carbon footprints has become an issue of economics, company differentiation and risk management.

While construction costs associated with developing building green assets are still somewhat at a premium, they are declining as sustainable construction projects transition from being an exception to being the norm.  This is evidenced by the increased number of Canadian projects seeking LEED certification. We have seen the numbers increase from 52 in 2004 to 609 in 2009[1].  However, not all green programs are necessarily expensive.

Implementing sustainability initiatives, such as building design optimization, can save organizations money through increased energy conservation and recycling and reduced natural resource use and waste disposal. Savings can also be realized by taking advantage of applicable government programs. For instance, certain local governments recognize the importance of the green agenda and offer tax incentives to encourage sustainable practices that reduce waste disposal, water use and energy demand.

In the near future, the real estate sector may have to consider the impact of increased regulatory pressures on their operations, such as carbon accounting. It is widely anticipated that carbon will soon be monetized through either a regulatory carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system. This initiative is only one aspect of the emerging green economy.

The industry trends are clear. Companies must begin to embed green technologies in their short- and long-term strategies to meet investor and tenant demands.


[1] Source: http://www.cagbc.org/leed/leed_projects/index.php accessed on October 13, 2010.

PricewaterhouseCoopers can help

We understand management’s dilemma around green initiatives while juggling a volatile economic market. The investment and tenant communities, however, are shifting their demand towards environmentally friendly organizations. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Real Estate and Sustainable Business Solutions professionals can help your company create a corporate strategy that addresses the increasing demands for sustainable business practices in the following ways:

  • Assist with the preparation of the company’s sustainability strategy and assist with the development of the related plan
  • Perform a gap analysis to identify areas in your organization where adequate processes and controls may not exist to collect and report the necessary data for your sustainability program
  • Conduct operational reviews and benchmarking analysis to help establish greenhouse gas (GHG) emission inventories
  • Review the effectiveness of policies, procedures or programs for creating a "green" workplace that adheres to management’s sustainability initiative
  • Assist with the development of processes and controls around the data being captured for your "green" programmes to ensure the data being reported is complete and accurate and where applicable could withstand third-party validation
  • Assist with the identification of tax incentives and government rebates and assist with the preparation of the related filings

Contact us to see how we can help with your concerns about sustainability.