[Guelph, Ontario – April 21, 2023]
Read the original article published in Canadian Apartment Magazine.
R. Jason Ashdown, Co-founder & Chief Sustainability Officer, and Rob Stein, President, Skyline Energy, were featured in an article published by Canadian Apartment Magazine on how rental housing providers can implement sustainability practices to lower their carbon footprint.
The article discusses the rental housing industry’s path to decarbonization and looks at Skyline’s comprehensive environmental sustainability efforts as an example of how such changes can be implemented.
Sustainability is an integral part of Skyline’s operations and long-term business plan. In March 2023, Skyline launched its 2023 Sustainability Report outlining the company’s sustainability goals for 2023, how it will achieve them in a measurable and impactful way, and how they fit into the longer-term roadmap of Skyline’s sustainability efforts.
For more information about Skyline’s sustainability initiatives, and to view Skyline’s 2023 Sustainability Report, visit Skyline’s Sustainability page.
Building decarbonization is the process of reducing or eliminating the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change from a building’s energy sources. As the commercial real estate sector seeks to eliminate harmful emissions that contribute to the climate crisis, the known benefits are piling up. These include improved indoor air quality, lowered utility bills, improved occupant comfort, building resilience, and helping Canada achieve its 2030 goals.
But getting there won’t be easy. According to a new report by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator’s (IESO), emissions from Ontario’s electricity grid are steadily growing despite clean energy currently powering up to 90 per cent of the grid. Implementing new technologies to transform the way electricity is produced and used, and incorporating more renewable energy supplemented by other non-polluting solutions, are integral to ensuring Canada maintains its course to becoming net zero by 2050.
“Bridging the work of today with the needs of a decarbonized world will be challenging and complex,” the IESO report contends. “A collaborative approach across all sectors of the economy will be necessary to decarbonize Ontario’s electricity system while maintaining reliability and affordability.”
For apartment owners, the path to decarbonization is becoming clearer day by day. This is thanks, in part, to the many reputable building owners and property managers that have been committed to lowering their carbon footprints for years, if not decades. Take Skyline Group of Companies, for example. In late March, the Guelph-based company released its 2023 Sustainability Report reflecting on the year’s achievements in environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and ethical governance (ESG).
“Sustainability is an integral part of our operations across Skyline Group of Companies,” commented R Jason Ashdown, Co-Founder and Chief Sustainability Officer. “We recognize our responsibility to take real, effective action to make positive change happen and help fight some of the major crises affecting Canadian communities, such as homelessness, food insecurity, and climate change.”
In 2021, Skyline launched a Sustainability Taskforce to focus on strategic development and monitor sustainability goals across all levels of the organization. Some of the company’s recent accomplishments with its taskforce at the helm include generating 38, 299 MWh of clean energy through company-owned solar panels; investing more than $11 million in energy and water efficiency measures; raising nearly $380,000 for non-profit organizations through various fundraisers; installing 160 EV charging stations; and planting more than 16,500 trees and shrubs in partnership with Ten Tree and Tree Canada.
Back in 2018, Skyline launched Skyline Clean Energy Fund (“SCEF”), a privately owned and managed portfolio of medium- to large-scale clean energy assets such as solar arrays and biogas facilities. In 2022, SCEF made a substantial investment in biogas, a type of clean, renewable energy generated from organic waste, when it purchased its second facility in Lethbridge, AB. Together with the fund’s biogas plant in Elmira, ON, the facilities have the capacity to divert 184,000 tonnes of organic waste per year and are expected to produce 240,000 GJ (gigajoules) in Renewable Natural Gas annually.
2022 also saw Skyline partner with Better Battery Co., a manufacturer of carbon-neutral batteries that “give back” and can be easily recycled through an innovative and integrated recycling program. These are just some of the steps Skyline has taken to help build the cleantech sector in Canada and further the commitment to decarbonization.
“Although we have seen additional cleantech investment from Canada this past year, a collective effort will need to continue among all the provinces and the private sector in 2023 in order to achieve Canada’s targets for 2030,” said Rob Stein, President, Skyline Energy. “Canada has an abundance of resources that can be used to produce clean energy, and there is a widespread consensus that we need to move away from polluting energy as the fight against climate change becomes direr.”
While not all operations have the means to invest in clean energy technology, putting money and effort into improving their own aging assets (and reaping the accompanying rewards) is a step in the right direction. As decarbonization efforts amp up across the commercial building sector, smaller landlords can consider implementing some of the following changes, if they haven’t done so already:
1. Energy Efficiency
According to most building experts, the first step on the road to decarbonization is to make the building as energy efficient as possible so that less energy is required for it to operate. This could involve simple measures like adding wall insulation, using LED lightbulbs, and equipping the units with ENERGY STAR certified appliances and smart thermostats to reduce wastage.
Electrification is the process of replacing any equipment in the building that uses fossil fuels with the latest electric technology. When the time is right, building owners should consider replacing the furnace (which burns natural gas), with a heat pump that only uses electricity to heat and cool the building.
3. Renewable Energy
Once all the gas equipment has been replaced with electric equipment, it’s time to take a closer look at where the energy comes from. Electricity can still come from fossil fuels, so switching to a renewable energy that doesn’t create greenhouse gas emissions is important. A great example of this is solar energy, one of Skyline’s renewable energy sources of choice. Last year the fund acquired a ground-mounted solar development project located near Bassano, Alberta, marking its first investment in a non-operational development project, as well as its first investment in the Alberta solar market. It also acquired an additional 7,852 KW/DC (7.852 MW/DC) in ground-mounted and rooftop solar assets throughout 2022.
4. Load Management
As more people use electricity instead of gas to power their homes and buildings, the demand for electricity will only keep rising. Residential building owners should look at ways to manage their load by shifting energy use to different times of the day. While load controllers can help keep consumption in check, they can also be restrictive, especially as more tenants are working from home since the onset of COVID-19. Smart energy management systems are a great way to manage energy use in real time, and they help balance need with goals.
To learn more about Skyline’s clean energy and sustainability pursuits, visit https://www.skylineenergy.ca/
Skyline Group of Companies (“Skyline”) is a fully integrated asset acquisition, management, development, and investment entity.
It is comprised of companies that provide services in real estate management and development, as well as clean energy management and development.
Skyline currently manages more than $8.23 billion across its real estate and clean energy platforms.
With more than 1,000 employees across Canada, Skyline works to provide safe, clean, and comfortable places for tenants to call home, great places to do business, sustainable solutions for a greener future, and an engaging experience for its investors.
View Skyline’s 20th Anniversary celebration video to see how Skyline is grounded in real estate, powered by people, and growing for the future.
For more information about Skyline Group of Companies, please visit SkylineGroupOfCompanies.ca.