Climate Change
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Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Victoria joins New York, Seattle, and others in push to make commercial buildings greener

The District 2030 Network allows developers to accelerate sustainability

Climate Change
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Victoria joins New York, Seattle, and others in push to make commercial buildings greener

The District 2030 Network allows developers to accelerate sustainability

Jawl Properties' and Concert Properties' Capital Park redevelopment Photo: Courtesy HDR
Jawl Properties' and Concert Properties' Capital Park redevelopment Photo: Courtesy HDR
Climate Change
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Victoria joins New York, Seattle, and others in push to make commercial buildings greener

The District 2030 Network allows developers to accelerate sustainability

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Victoria joins New York, Seattle, and others in push to make commercial buildings greener
Jawl Properties' and Concert Properties' Capital Park redevelopment Photo: Courtesy HDR

Victoria has joined New York City, Toronto, Seattle, and other North American municipalities in a program to make commercial buildings more energy-efficient. 

The District 2030 Network is an initiative aimed at accelerating aggressive reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Its goal is to establish a global web of high-performance building districts and cities. So far, Victoria is the only BC city to take part.

The built environment—buildings, roads, parks, and other things built by humans—is responsible for 39% of global C02 emissions, 33% of global waste, and nearly 50% of all extracted materials. Victoria was one of the first BC  governments to adopt the highest level of the province’s Zero Carbon Step Code to limit greenhouse gas emissions in new buildings and its membership in the 2030 district network helps to accelerate and reinforce that standard.  

Need to team up nowadays

“Cities can’t make their climate action targets alone,” Cora Hallsworth, director of Greater Victoria 2030 District tells Capital Daily.

“All sectors of society will need to do their part, and the 2030 District provides an important role in reaching and engaging commercial properties and their building owners and managers, and supporting them in reducing commercial building emissions.” 

To do that, network members are adopting a range of measures to reduce their emissions and increase their energy efficiency, such as installing advanced building controls, smart building management systems, geothermal systems, solar panels, and LED lighting. They’re also leveraging existing connections in the private and public sectors. For example, provincial rebates and incentive schemes available to property owners are one of the junctures where these opportunities converge.

“The main concept is we bring together property managers in the region to work towards deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, focusing on commercial property managers,” said Hallsworth, who is also manager of municipal programs at the BC Institute of Technology (BCIT) and works with One Planet Saanich, an initiative that uses the One Planet Living Framework on sustainability. That framework reflects many of the UN 2030 Sustainability Goals: #11 (sustainable cities and communities); #3 (good health and well-being, and 317 (partnerships for the goals) but it also includes the principles of zero waste, zero carbon energy, and materials and products.

“Our district now includes 48 buildings represented by 13 property managers and includes over four million square feet of space. With an additional half million square feet being added soon”, said Hallsworth. All of the participating properties have committed to reducing their carbon emissions by 50 percent from their 2007 emissions levels by 2030. “2007 was chosen as the benchmark because it was roughly the time when many other national and international sustainability targets were being set.” 

Victoria and Saanich have teamed before

A recent regional milestone for the cross-border initiative was the Victoria and Saanich collaborative 2022 win of the Community Energy Association’s climate and energy action award in the category of community and development planning in 2022.

The Tillicum Centre, part of Anthem Properties Group Ltd.’s portfolio, is one of the participating district buildings. The shopping centre in Central Saanich is within 13% of achieving its 2030 emissions-reduction goal thanks to recent improvements. Capital Park, owned jointly by Concert and Jawl Properties, a mixed-use development that includes office, commercial, and residential uses is another District 2030 building. 

Other regional participating property owners include Colliers International, Cushman & Wakefield, Ivanhoe Cambridge, Shape Properties, the City of Victoria, and the District of Saanich. 

Reaching 2030 benchmarks can be challenging because building owners seldom have control over individual tenant energy consumption. Turnover in commercial buildings, mergers and acquisitions can also present hurdles to progress. Vacancy rates have been problematic in some cities in the long wake of the pandemic.

LA vacancy rate 4+ times higher than Victoria's

The Downtown LA office market closed Q1 2024 with a vacancy rate of 28.8% (in comparison, Victoria’s vacancy rate in 2023 was 6.9%). Hallsworth says the Victoria district’s focus in 2024 is to bring more smaller property managers on board. Mark Klein LA District director said, “To really get to the reductions we want to see, we’re going to have to start working together and talking about best practices so those practices spread and you see reductions at a district scale.” 

Hallsworth echoed this collaborative imperative. “We work to support our members’ efforts in meeting their energy and greenhouse gas emissions goals and our services provide a range of benefits, such as benchmarking and performance reporting, one-on-one support, and peer networking opportunities. Participating in the 2030 District means that property managers will be ahead of the curve—ready for upcoming regulations and making themselves climate and future fit,” she said.

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