A Greener Tomorrow: How First Capital is Leading the Charge to Net Zero  

Since 2006, First Capital has been committed to corporate sustainability through a variety of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) initiatives. These practices are integrated into every aspect of our business – from the design and construction of our properties, to how we support our employees’ mental health and well-being, and the charitable giving we offer our communities. To celebrate Earth Day, this month’s blog dives deeper into First Capital’s sustainability targets, specifically our goal of achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050. Keep reading to discover some fascinating insights from our current research and see how we’re actively working towards our Net Zero goal. 

  1. 46% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030, (SBTi approved) 
  2. 28% reduction in Scope 3 emissions by 2030 (SBTi aligned)  
  3. Net Zero by 2050

Property Emissions Are a Result of Natural Gas and Electricity Use: 

Scope 1 (Direct Emissions): Primarily from Natural gas used to heat our buildings. 

Scope 2 (Indirect Emissions): Primarily from electricity used at our buildings. 

Scope 3 (Indirect Emissions): Primarily the emissions generated by our tenants at our buildings + the emissions from our new developments/construction projects and embodied carbon. 

The use of natural gas to heat our buildings is the highest category for emissions. Emissions from electricity use can vary regionally depending on the Provincial electricity grids (e.g. emissions from electricity use in Quebec are quite small because most of the province’s power is generated using clean, renewable hydro power). Heating and cooling equipment (rooftop-units, boilers, fans, ventilation) and lighting are the biggest emission-driving activities at our properties. 

Energy conservation means reducing the amount of energy needed, for example, improving the building envelope with more insulation and sealing windows and doors.  

Energy efficiency means improving the performance at the building by installing more efficient equipment such as LED lights, installing controls and heat recovery systems. 

Since 2019, First Capital has reduced our GHG Emissions by 9% mainly through reducing our energy consumption at properties. Through our Energy Efficiency Hunts, which is introduced later in this blog, our property teams walk through our buildings every year to identify ways in which we can operate more efficiently, and action on measures identified.  

With natural gas usage being the highest category for GHG Emissions, moving toward heating and cooling equipment that uses low-carbon energy will have a large impact at our properties. Heat Pumps and Hybrid Heat Pumps are an alternative to gas-powered rooftop units and operate more efficiently.  

To meet our Net-Zero goals we will need to start electrifying our HVAC equipment. We are in the planning and pilot phase and the priority is gas-powered rooftop units that are at end of life. We have identified several common area rooftop units to conduct feasibility studies and pilot heat pump replacements in 2024. Conducting these pilots will allow us to create a standard process and spec to implement heat pump replacements across the portfolio.  

This involves generating on-site renewable electricity for direct use by First Capital through rooftop solar installations.  We will also consider future Power Purchase Agreements, allowing us to purchase energy from a renewable energy source.  

We are assessing sites to find opportunities in the portfolio and hope to move ahead with our first rooftop solar installation in 2025.  

First Capital has made significant strides in reducing emissions and is currently planning measures and activities to achieve our Scope 1, 2 and 3 reduction targets. Continue reading to discover one of our annual ESG Initiatives and how this practice brings us closer to our Net Zero goal!  

In 2022, First Capital’s Operations team was recognized internally for their hard work in identifying energy efficiency opportunities across our properties as part of our annual Energy Efficiency Hunts initiative. 

Pointing out opportunities to switch out existing lighting to LEDs
Inspecting external doors for door sealing replacement

Each year, Operations Teams in each PMZ (Property Management Zone) choose two properties to perform a walkthrough audit with the goal of identifying energy efficiency opportunities to later act upon and implement solutions that will save energy. These opportunities could be switching out lighting to LEDs, sealing doors and windows to prevent drafts, or adjusting thermostats to more mild temperatures – to name a few. 

The Operations team (by PMZ) in each region that scored the highest number of points was named the winner. Points were awarded based on the number of energy efficiency opportunities identified and extra points were given when solutions were implemented.  

As we know, First Capital is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by 2030 and achieving net-zero by 2050. A significant portion of our emissions come from the energy we use to heat and cool our properties. Reducing the amount of energy used will reduce our emissions and bring us closer to meeting our targets. 

Teams identified 298 opportunities (measures) and implemented/completed solutions for 189 of them, which is almost two-thirds of the total number of opportunities identified! 

We’re thrilled to continue our Energy Efficiency Hunt initiative and hope to see even better results in the years to come!

From our properties to our corporate practices, First Capital has been a leader in driving sustainability in the Canadian Real Estate industry, which is integral to our strategy of building thriving neighbourhoods. We’re constantly developing our ESG programs, and regularly improving and upgrading our policies. Although we are proud of our many ESG achievements to date, we recognize significant work needs to be done. Join us as we explore what lies ahead for First Capital and how we continue to work towards a greener and more sustainable future. 

Click here to read about all things ESG, including our past initiatives, reports, and blog posts.  

Follow us on Instagram & LinkedIn to stay updated on the latest ESG news.  

Stay tuned for our 2025-2030 Roadmap, which will be published later this year!