How HOOPP's West Coast Investments Are Leading On Sustainability
Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan CEO Jim Keohane, in town for his firm's sustainability conference and awards, spoke with us about greening HOOPP's 30M SF portfolio and how its Vancouver holdings are eco-friendly exemplars.
Here's Jim (left) at last week’s HOOPP-hosted Leadership In Environmental Advancement Program (LEAP) conference, with City of Vancouver green building manager Sean Pander, councillor Raymond Louie, and HOOPP senior portfolio manager Lisa Lafave and real estate VP Stephen Taylor. All of HOOPP’s new real estate investments—including Marine Gateway (below) and The Amazing Brentwood—are built to the highest sustainability standards, Jim says, and the firm's improving its legacy portfolio, too. “To do that we need the engagement of tenants and building managers.” That’s where LEAP comes in.
HOOPP, which ranked second out of nine in its peer group of North American diversified real estate portfolios (office and retail) in the 2015 GRESB survey (earning a Green Star), has set aggressive targets for the reduction of water and energy use and waste disposal at its properties. The LEAP awards “sends a strong message to our managers that we’re serious about this and we want it done,” says Jim. Meanwhile, the conference gives HOOPP's team the chance to share sustainability best practices with other industry players.
One of Canada’s biggest pension plans, HOOPP is a stakeholder in various public companies. “But we don’t control their behaviour,” Jim notes. As the direct owner of its real estate investments (like Toronto's One York St, above), HOOPP can shape outcomes. And it's well aware that sustainable properties are cheaper to operate, translating into greater ROI. “Tenants are willing to pay higher rents because the overall cost to be in those buildings is lower," says Jim, citing Marine Gateway, a transit-oriented mixed-use development that gets 70% of its energy via geothermal sources, as a HOOPP green-investment poster child.
Jim toured other HOOPP investments while on the West Coast, including Highstreet, a 600k SF open-air regional shopping centre in Abbotsford by Shape Properties (developer of Amazing Brentwood). Anchored by Walmart Supercentre, London Drugs, H&M, Sephora, Steve Nash Fitness World, Marshalls and Cineplex VIP, Highstreet is one of Canada’s first large-scale retail projects to be LEED-certified. “The outdoor format is different than what most people here are used to,” says Jim, noting such malls thrive in the US. “And Highstreet is starting to attract more traffic.”
BC is Canada’s economic “shining star," Jim says, and HOOPP is happy to keep investing here. The province currently represents 20% of its real estate portfolio, a big chunk in the form of Burnaby's Amazing Brentwood (above), which he notes is Canada’s largest real estate construction project. It'll ultimately have 12 residential towers (three are under construction) and the shopping centre is being doubled to 1M SF. “So we’ll be there for a while," says Jim. And stay tuned for more BC deals. “There are a couple of things we’re kicking tires on that we’re hoping will come to fruition soon.”