Working Together for a Greener Tomorrow
Since 2006, First Capital has committed to corporate sustainability through a variety of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives. As leaders in the commercial real estate industry, we believe it is our responsibility to drive our sustainability efforts and are committed to doing our part.
Our ESG 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. Although we are proud of our many ESG achievements to date, we recognize that there is still much work to be done.
80% of our portfolio are BOMA BEST certified
The Building Owners and Managers Association Building Environment Standards (BOMA BEST) is Canada’s largest environmental assessment and certification program in the commercial real estate industry. This sustainability program evaluates operators practices and their building performance, as well as tenants and property managers who make conscious efforts to engage in sustainable practices. The BOMA BEST certification recognizes quality and excellence in energy efficiency, low carbon footprints, and environmental management practices.
4.4M sf LEED certified
Created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an environmental certification program and rating system. Being the most widely used green building evaluation globally, it is granted to organizations who construct and maintain healthy, energy efficient, and green buildings. In 2006, FCR was an early adopter, committing to constructing all new buildings using LEED standards. Today, we are proud to have 120 projects that have been LEED certified, totaling 3.8 million sf of our portfolio.
7.1M sf achieved WELL Health-Safety Rating
Developed by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and the Global Authority on Healthy Buildings in June 2020, the WELL Health-Safety Rating is an evidence-based, third-party verified rating that ensures proper health and safety protocols are being followed. These rated properties engage in strategic cleaning and sanitization procedures, air and water quality management, emergency preparedness programs, and health services – ensuring the safety of building owners and patrons. Achieving this rating is a significant milestone in our ongoing ESG commitment to make positive impacts in our neighbourhoods.
A bit about our Strategy:
We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint in our neighbourhoods by engaging in sustainable initiatives across our portfolio. This includes implementing best operational practices, setting a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, focusing on biodiversity where nature can thrive, emphasizing the importance of green spaces in our properties, and implementing eco-friendly transportation options.
We are committed to helping our neighbourhoods thrive. This is carried out through FCR’s Thriving Neighbourhoods Foundation – an employee-led charitable foundation focused on addressing food insecurity and poverty, social justice, mental health, and youth initiatives. At select properties, we promote the vibrancy of the centres through our public art program – providing a unique gathering place for visitors and shoppers. As an employer, we strive to create a workplace that is equitable, diverse, and inclusive, where staff can bring their whole selves to work, grow their careers, and thrive.
We are committed to thorough and responsible governance of corporate practices by embedding ESG initiatives within the entirety of our organization – from providing effective and transparent reporting systems, training our employees on important ESG initiatives, to assessing 100% of our properties for physical climate risk and resilience.
ESG Through the Years
In 2006, we committed to certify all of our properties to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards – being the first retail property owner in Canada to do so. By the end of 2009, we had 30 LEED projects underway.
By this time, we achieved seven LEED certifications. We also formalized our sustainability program and introduced a new full-time leadership role dedicated to sustainability.
In 2011, we received our first four BOMA BEST certifications. We also began implementing two LED lighting pilot ventures, and construction began on three geothermal projects; ultimately reducing our energy consumption and carbon footprint. This was also the year we published our first sustainability report compliant with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and we became Canada’s first publicly traded real estate company to do so.
During 2012, not only did we file our first Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) report, but we also partnered with Hydro Quebec’s Electric Circuit. This partnership was formed to install forty public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at several of our Quebec properties within a two-year period.
Our head office at 85 Hanna Avenue in Toronto, along with our neighbouring Barrymore Building, became officially registered as participants in the Greening Greater Toronto’s Race to Reduce – a Greater Toronto Alliance initiative.
Forming a strong relationship with the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U), we sponsored $45,000 worth of student programs. From graduate exhibitions and awards, to sculpture competitions, this marked the beginning our social initiative to support budding young artists.
In 2013, we formalized our Sustainability Strategy and set a 5% energy reduction target. We identified opportunities to save over 6,000,000 equivalent kilowatt hours (ekWh) annually and put an action plan in place.
During this time, we began partnering with other universities as part of our public art program, including the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, BC, and Concordia University in Montreal, QC.
In 2015, we more than doubled our energy reduction target, ending the year with an 11% reduction in energy consumption surpassing our 5% goal.
weather corrected, like-to-like portfolio
2016 challenged us to aim higher. We established another three-year target to reduce energy consumption by an additional 7.5% by 2018, using 2015 as a base year. Secondly, we committed to upgrading every parking lot and exterior lighting to energy-efficient LEDs by 2020.
In 2017, the Evolve North American Gender Diversity Index ETF listed us as the most gender diverse company in Canada.
Using 2013 as a base year, we decreased our total GHG emissions by 16%.
We were ranked fourth in Corporate Knight’s Future 40 Responsible Corporate Leaders in Canada. Further, BOMA Canada recognized two of our properties with special achievements – Seton Gateway in Calgary with the Earth Award, and Meadowlark Health and Shopping Centre in Edmonton with The Outstanding Building of the Year (TOBY) mixed-used category award.
We established an ESG Taskforce made up of representatives from all areas of our business. The first project for the Taskforce was to create a 5-year ESG strategy for First Capital. We also set a three-year target to reduce our carbon emissions by 9%. We received the highest possible ‘AAA’ rating from Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) ESG assessment for our sustainability initiatives over the past three years.
Also, the Globe and Mail recognized us as one of Toronto’s Top 100 Employers for 2020, and Canada’s Best Small to Medium Sized Businesses – acknowledging our best practices in the workplace.
In addition to our ESG Taskforce delivering our industry-leading 5-Year ESG 2020-2024 Roadmap, we developed a tenant resource tool titled, FCR Retail Tenant Guide to Sustainable Operations. We also implemented green leasing practices and were proudly awarded the Green Lease Leader Silver Recognition 2020 by the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Building Alliance. Additionally, we were honoured to receive a four-star ranking by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), with a score of 78.
Socially, the Globe and Mail recognized us as recipients of their Women Lead Here Award. We also launched our employee-lead charity called the FCR Thriving Neighbourhoods Foundation; established our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I) Council; Flexible Work Practices initiative; and “Wellness Workdays” program.
In 2021, we became the first ever Canadian REIT to publicly support the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD); while establishing a concrete plan to align and improve upon our own disclosures. We also continued with our EV charging station initiative with plans to install an additional 90+ chargers, bringing our total up to 250 across our entire portfolio.
On top of this, we proudly received the WELL Health-Safety Rating for over 7 million sf of our portfolio across Canada and issued our Green Financing Framework. Ultimately, we expect to achieve our three-year 2021 carbon reduction target of 9%!
Also, the Globe and Mail once again recognized us as recipients of their Women Lead Here Award, GTA Top 100 Employers and were named one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Businesses.
Lastly, we’ve been recognized as the #1 ranked North American real estate company among our peer group (Retail, Listed, Tenant-Controlled) in the GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) results for our ongoing ESG initiatives.
One of our many ESG targets involves the expansion of our rooftop beehive program to include eight additional properties, bringing the total up to sixteen. We also plan on developing GHG emission reduction targets for 2025 & 2030, leading to our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
In 2023, we will begin exploring opportunities to create biodiverse corridors within our urban properties and spaces. This will be carried out through the creation of partnerships within the municipalities that our properties serve, non-profit and not-for-profit sustainability organizations, as well as building and landowners. Lastly, we plan to develop a well-rounded sustainability concept for a potential pilot project and critically evaluate its feasibility.
Ranked as a 2023 GRESB Sector Leader in the Developments Benchmark (Peer Group: North America, Retail) and ranked 2nd amongst our peers in the Standing Investments Benchmark (Peer Group: Canada, Retail Centres, Listed).
While several ESG goals and projects will be in progress, we hope to have completed at least one, if not more, solar rooftop installations. By the end of 2024, we estimate that all EV charging station installations will be completed and ready to use across every single one of our properties.
ESG in the Blog
FCR’s ESG Earth Month Series: Biodiversity
discussing biodiversity and how we can preserve it.
FCR’s ESG Earth Month Series: Transportation
We’ll be discussing transportation, its environmental impact, and what we can do to create a more sustainable future.