How an ESG-focused 2021 won this real estate company two industry awards | RENX
The growing awareness of ESG (environmental, social and governance) concerns, and the expectations of companies to address them and take meaningful action, have grown stronger than ever over the past year. According to PwC’s 2021 Consumer Intelligence Series survey on ESG, 83% of consumers believe that companies should actively shape ESG best practices, and 86% of employees prefer to support or work for companies that care about the same issues. ‘they.1
Companies are responding by creating comprehensive ESG plans that outline both their current and forward-looking strategies regarding various ESG factors. These can include carbon reduction, staff-led social/charitable initiatives, diversity and inclusion, customer influence and awareness, and many more.
Using 2021 as a springboard for ESG planning
Some companies have been regularly recognized for their ESG efforts long before the term “ESG” was promoted. Many of these companies are using the current environment as an opportunity to scale up their positive impact and align their ESG strategy with widely recognized frameworks such as the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Skyline Group of Companies is one such entity. Its first environmental plan, entitled “Recognizing Our Responsibility”, was launched in 2006. Since then, and until 2021, Skyline has incorporated various additional ESG initiatives into its operations each year, but without any formal overarching strategy. That changed in 2021 when Skyline launched its first sustainability plan, setting out its key goals in each ESG category.
“We used 2021 as a launch pad to formally set our standards and benchmarks for sustainability – a term we use at Skyline to encompass environmental, social and governance,” said R. Jason Ashdown, co-founder and Chief Sustainability Officer, Skyline Group of Enterprises.
“We hold ourselves accountable to measure our progress and report on our success at the end of the year, so that we can get started on track for 2022 and beyond.”
Bringing positive change to properties across Canada
With over $6.4 billion in assets under management and a presence in more than 150 Canadian communities, Skyline acquires, manages and develops real estate properties in apartment, industrial, commercial and retail asset classes.
“We have a responsibility to enrich each of the communities in which we operate,” Ashdown said.
“We do this by creating environmental savings on properties, as well as investing in these communities and partnering with community organizations. As a result, we are making a positive difference not only for our residential and commercial tenants, but also for those who live in the wider community.
A year of environmental, social and governance initiatives
In 2021, Skyline launched, or continued to facilitate, a wide range of ESG practices at its properties across Canada. These include:
– Donating 13,000 square feet of retail space to be used as a community hub for nonprofits that provide youth and family mental health services
– $1 million land donation for permanent supportive housing development that will provide housing and supportive services for 32 people
– Installation of more than 60 EV charging stations and obtaining a grant to install an additional 852 EV charging stations in its residential properties in 2022
– Installation of 55 roof systems generating solar energy in its properties
– Launched an e-waste recycling project across the residential portfolio (completion Q2 2022), enabling tenants to ethically dispose of their e-waste and metals and properly divert them from landfills , free
– Launched a pilot project to install smart heat control technology in its residential properties
– Participate in an innovative pilot project to cost-effectively divert organic waste from residential properties
– Helping residential tenants through an in-house program, RISE (Reach, Impact, Support, Elevate), available to any tenant who has fallen on hard times and needs help with resources or financial support to get back on track foot
– Adopt a multi-year plan for the installation of additional rooftop beehives and community gardens on its properties
A positive influence on customers and business stakeholders
In its 2021 sustainability plan, Skyline defined its “sustainability partners” – all the different audiences that interact with the company: staff, tenants, investors, business partners and the wider community. In fact, as part of planning its sustainability efforts for 2021, Skyline conducted a materiality assessment with its directors, business partners, community partners, staff and tenants, to understand which ESG initiatives were most important to them.
Skyline aims to empower its sustainability partners by inviting them to participate in multiple social and environmental initiatives throughout the year. For example:
– In April 2021, Skyline asked its more than 34,000 residential tenants to participate in an Earth Hour Challenge that encouraged every tenant to join as a community and turn off all power.
– Skyline’s annual Charity Golf Classic event invited staff, investors, trustees and business partners to come together and raise funds for five organizations that address homelessness and mental health issues across the Canada. Skyline also launched a “Driving Positive Change” video campaign, featuring professionally produced videos focused on each of these charities. Between the event and the video campaign, Skyline and its sustainability partners raised $175,000.
– In the fall of 2021, Skyline partnered with Tree Canada, resulting in an initial investment of $30,000 and four fall tree planting events for staff. This resulted in the planting of 665 tree seedlings across Canada.
“We draw as much on our human resources as on our dollars,” added Ashdown.
“We have an abundance of talented people and resources ranging from IT, HR, construction, legal and more. If a nonprofit or community organization needs advice or services , and that we have the capabilities, we enthusiastically lend our expertise.
Rewards for ESG Practices: Beyond Mere Recognition
Skyline was recently the proud recipient of two prestigious 2021 awards from the Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario: Environmental Excellence (awarded to the Skyline Group of Companies) and Impact (awarded to Skyline Living for its RISE program).
While industry recognition provides Skyline and its staff with incredible validation of their ESG efforts, the benefits of integrating ESG practices into Skyline’s business model go far beyond the accolades alone.
“ESG is important to our trustees, staff, investors, tenants and business partners,” Ashdown said.
“It is now a major factor in determining whether someone wants to work for us, invest with us, rent with us or do business with us. It’s our job to ensure that sustainability is built into every facet of Skyline, and that we set the benchmark in our industry for taking the most meaningful steps possible.
About the Skyline Group of Companies
Skyline Group of Companies is a fully integrated asset acquisition, management, development and investment entity.
It is made up of companies that provide real estate management and development services, as well as clean energy management and development.
As of November 30, 2021, Skyline manages over $6.4 billion across its real estate and clean energy platforms.
With over 1,000 employees across Canada, Skyline strives to provide tenants with safe, clean and comfortable places to do business, sustainable solutions for a greener future and an engaging experience for its investors. .
See Skyline’s 20and Anniversary celebration video to see how Skyline is rooted in real estate, powered by people, and growing for the future.
For more information on Skyline Group of Companies, please visit skylinegroupofcompanies.ca