Ivanhoé Cambridge Sets Ambitious Goal to Reduce Carbon Footprint and Achieve Net-Zero [Interview]

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Global real estate owner Ivanhoé Cambridge has set an ambitious carbon neutrality goal to reduce the carbon footprint of its real estate holdings by 35 per cent by 2025 and achieve a net zero carbon balance by 2040. 

And recently the company conducted a pilot project with Turntide Technologies at two of its Canadian shopping centres – CrossIron Mills in the Calgary region and Vaughan Mills in Ontario – to make the malls more energy efficient. The project involved replacing electric motors in HVAC units (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) with Turntide’s patented Optimal Efficiency Motors. 

Rob Simpson

“This is a great example of a very simple energy efficiency option: it’s a plugin device. We’re replacing the motor in an existing HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) unit with a more efficient option. Since the installation of three motors, we’ve seen a significant reduction in electricity consumption equivalent to a saving of 56,000 kWh of energy a year,” said Rob Simpson, Senior Director, Sustainability, Ivanhoé Cambridge.

“That’s enough to fully charge nearly five million smartphones. Projects and programs like this are essential because they can be implemented quickly and easily. They’re cost-effective and scalable, and we’re already seeing opportunities to extend this technology to other retail locations and properties across other asset classes.

“We have committed publicly to become net zero operationally across our global portfolio of assets by 2040. That commitment was made in the Spring of 2021. So that’s the big picture. Within that, there’s some interim targets. There’s a 35 per cent reduction by 2025 from a 2017 baseline. We also have a commitment to anything on the development side, starting in 2025 and beyond, will be net zero operationally from that point forward.”

According to the company, energy consumption of the HVAC units at those two malls was reduced by more than 35 per cent at each location. This is equivalent to 39 metric tons of CO2.

In practical terms, said Ivanhoé Cambridge, 39 metric tons of CO2 equates to:

  • The amount of greenhouse gases emitted by a gasoline-powered vehicle that travels nearly 155,000 kilometres; 
  • The amount of carbon sequestered annually by a 46-acre forest; and 
  • The amount of energy required to charge nearly five million cell phones.
CrossIron Mills sign next to Highway 2 freeway connecting Calgary and Edmonton.
CrossIron Mills sign next to Highway 2 freeway connecting Calgary and Edmonton. Photo: Pop-up go | Zenergy Communications

“This pilot project is particularly attractive because we simply replace the existing motor and also because it offers a great return on our investment. It’s also a fine example of what Ivanhoé Cambridge wants to achieve: launch MVPs to test, learn and scale solutions that respond to our objectives, in this case, carbon neutrality,” said Karine Trudel, Director, Innovation and Continuous Improvement, Ivanhoé Cambridge.

Karine Trudel

Simpson said the company has taken a proactive role in the area of property technology. Part of the roadmap the company has laid out will mean investments in technological solutions to help decarbonize its buildings. 

“In shopping centres, typically you have a lot of equipment that is on the roof that provide the main heating, ventilation and cooling services for a building,” he said. “And they are generally outfitted with the typical equipment, including motors that basically drive the fans and what not. Those motors are generally what we refer to as induction motors. They’re either on or off. They don’t phase. They don’t necessarily stage. They don’t necessarily have interval speeds.

“And Turntide is an intelligent motor that adjusts based on the requirement of the given space in terms of heating, cooling or ventilation requirements. So it’s not running any harder than it needs to be for that particular unit to satisfy the requirement of that region or area that it is servicing. So Turntide essentially is a very efficient motor. It is for the most part you remove the old one and you put the new one in . . . It’s not an overly complicated initiative.”

Vaughan Mills (Image: Ivanhoé Cambridge)

Simpson said the installations at the two shopping centres took place at the beginning of this year. 

He said the two shopping centres were chosen for the pilot because they’re relatively straightforward properties, not complicated in terms of the HVAC equipment, and they don’t have central plants.

“The age of the buildings was also appropriate. The age of equipment is a factor. You don’t install these motors on brand new units nor do you install them on units that are going to be replaced next year. So you try to find that sweet spot of five to 10 to 12 years in terms of age,” explained Simpson.

“And we also have two centres that have been quite active in their own ESG initiatives and were just a good fit for pilot sites. We’d like to see them operate through a full year – a winter season and a summer season – to ensure that the results we’ve seen to date continue. Once that’s completed, we anticipate a wider rollout starting with the two centres where the pilots are occurring. We would like to roll it out across those centres certainly on common area equipment. We haven’t done anything with tenant specific equipment yet but that’s perhaps a later phase. 

“So the goal would be that once the annual numbers are confirmed and verified against our initial projections that we would expand across those two centres and then look for opportunities across the rest of the portfolio where the equipment at those locations align with some of those criteria and we would look to do a wider rollout where it makes sense to do so.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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