RESTORATION ECONOMY: Green retrofits for buildings is a huge growth industry, and a $13 billion Canadian firm just accelerated it

In December of 2021, the Dream group of companies—comprising Dream Unlimited Corp., Dream Office Reit, Dream Impact Trust, and Dream Industrial Reit—set out to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2035 or sooner for all its operations and new developments.

With a portfolio totaling over $13 billion, the announcement represents one of the most ambitious targets in the industry, aiming to achieve net zero 15 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.

We believe that real estate can be developed and managed to make positive impacts and make our communities fairer. Real estate is responsible for about 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the impetus of today’s announcement – we believe that we can stop the growth of carbon emissions from our properties and reduce our emissions dramatically,” said Michael Cooper, Chief Responsible Officer for Dream Unlimited.

It has never been more urgent to act swiftly. We can challenge the historical status quo and transform our business to meaningfully tackle these complex issues and pave the way for a resilient future,” he added.

Supporting Dream’s solutions to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) is committing up to $136.6 million, under its Commercial Building Retrofits Initiative. The loan will finance 19 building retrofits across Dream’s portfolios in Ontario and Saskatchewan, built from 1875 to 1992.

Creating approximately 1500 jobs, Dream will begin decarbonizing and modernizing each building starting in Spring 2022. Once complete, the buildings will become healthy and resilient workplaces for the 15,000 employees who work in these spaces.

We are proud to collaborate with Dream through its net zero emissions initiative. Our significant investment demonstrates a long-term commitment to expedite large-scale retrofits, which cut greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ehren Cory, CEO, Canada Infrastructure Bank. “By working with leaders in the Canadian real estate sector, we support economic growth while making our communities greener and more sustainable.

Additionally, efforts are already underway at Dream Unlimited’s 34-acre master-planned development Zibi, which is set to become the National Capital Region’s first net zero community by 2025. Bringing this ambition to reality, Dream Unlimited recently brought online the region’s first zero-carbon District Energy System, relying on post-industrial waste energy for heating and the Ottawa River for cooling, providing zero carbon heating and cooling to all residents and tenants in the community.

Dream’s global portfolio spans multiple regions across Canada, the U.S. and Europe and features a diverse range of building types and communities, from developing large-scale master-planned communities to retrofitting boutique heritage buildings. Dream’s progress towards its commitment will be measured and reported annually as part of its rigorous Impact management system.

Reinforcing this pledge, Dream Unlimited has joined the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, which represents asset managers around the world aligned with net zero targets of 2050 or sooner. The initiative covers 220 signatories and the U.S. $57.4 trillion AUM, of which Dream is one of the first Canadian companies to join.

In addition, Dream Unlimited has signed onto the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment – an international network of investors working together to implement six key principles to ensure a sustainable global financial system. Each Dream entity is also an official supporter of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures chaired by Michael R. Bloomberg.

We have been working hard alongside leading experts, government and key stakeholders to forge deep partnerships, identify innovations and technologies, and create sophisticated data reporting systems. As the world embraces a low carbon future, Dream is well-positioned to be on the leading edge of the movement,” says Lee Hodgkinson, Head of Sustainability & Technical Services at Dream.

As part of the net zero by 2035 commitment, Dream Unlimited, Dream Impact and Dream Office are committing to net zero scope 1 and 2 and select scope 3 GHG emissions (operational and development) by 2035, and Dream Industrial is committing to net zero scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions (operational) by 2035 and net zero select scope 3 GHG emissions (operational and development) by 2050.

Photos of the 366 Bay retrofit project in Toronto in courtesy of Dream.

See Dream website.

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