For Bentall Kennedy, sustainability is 'just good business'

Jon Wellman of Bentall Kennedy
"Mechanical systems are important, but the behaviour of tenants is also key," says Bentall Kennedy's Jon Wellman. "BC Hydro has helped us create messaging and communications for our efforts in getting tenants engaged."

Real estate management company works with Power Smart to deliver real savings

With 142 million square feet of real estate to manage, Bentall Kennedy needs to balance sustainability with returns on investment. But for Jon Wellman, Bentall's vice-president and general manager of real estate services, that's no problem.

"We manage primarily on behalf of institutional clients," he says. "They need to see a return on their investment, but their stakeholders want them to be sustainable. And it's just good business to understand your buildings, to measure what you manage, and to try to reduce."

Bentall Kennedy has a long legacy of energy efficient operations, in part through their participation in the BC Hydro Power Smart Partner program. Their sustainability strategy is to look for continuous improvement in all areas including energy, water, and greenhouse gases, by reducing how much they consume.

"Tenants know they pay rent and operations costs," says Wellman. "If we can continue to lower our energy costs, then we'll be a better choice for tenants.

"The best way to lower costs is to operate efficiently, and as you do improvements and upgrades, which you have to do anyway, look to the most efficient replacement or upgrade possible to help reduce energy usage."

Lighting upgrades to Sun Life Financial buildings save 2.5 million kWh

Bentall Kennedy recently completed lighting upgrades on behalf of client Sun Life, which has a portfolio of buildings on Annacis Island and in Richmond.

"The annual energy savings is projected to be 2.5 gigawatt-hours," says Wellman.

With 2,000 older high bay lights replaced by efficient T5 fluorescents, and 1,000 office-style T12 fluorescents upgraded to more efficient T8s, the new lighting saves enough energy to power 227 B.C. homes a year.

Making labellling and certification a priority

Bentalll Kenneday has also adopted building labelling and certification as a way to bring attention to what properties consume and how they improve efficiency.

The Bentall Centre in downtown Vancouver was the very first BOMA BESt certified building in Canada. Now, more than 50 per cent of Bentall's buildings are certified BOMA BESt.

In addition, two downtown Vancouver office towers have been certified LEED Gold, and a number of others are going through the LEED certification process.

Energy tracking and tenant engagement are keys to success

To maintain high standards across many properties, Bentall has developed software tools to provide access to accurate and detailed information.

The company's first tool was Eco Tracker. All utility bills are entered into Eco Tracker online, so all property managers can monitor their buildings' consumption with ease. Eco Tracker gives daily detail and provides a three-year rolling average, normalized for weather and for occupancy.

Recently, the company added a new element to the tool, called Eco Modeller. This allows property managers to model capital projects they are considering. They can input the age of the building, add assumptions, and then model the upgrade costs and savings and see what return on investment could be.

Access to this kind of information makes it easier for property managers and property investment clients to troubleshoot building problems, and to plan for energy efficiency.

"BC Hydro is always motivating us from a tenant engagement standpoint to try to engage the tenants in our buildings," says Wellman, referring to Bentall Kennedy's participation in various Power Smart programs over the years, such as Power Smart Partner.

"Mechanical systems are important, but the behaviour of tenants is also key," he says. "BC Hydro has helped us create messaging and communications for our efforts in getting tenants engaged.

"They also work to motivate us as tenants in our own building. They challenge us to understand what we can do as tenants to conserve."

Leadership brings out the best in people

All construction materials from Bentall Kennedy's Sun Life lighting upgrade were dismantled and recycled. In the company's own offices, they recycle and compost, run challenges and competitions to get employees engaged, and track their own energy consumption.

"We are only as good as what we do today and what we plan for tomorrow," says Wellman. "And if we don't walk the talk and engage our own employees, then we're not getting the best out of people."

He credits BC Hydro with being an essential partner along the way.

"We have for years been part of BC Hydro's programs. Whether it's Power Smart Partner for a lighting upgrade, an energy study, or the Continuous Optimization program that takes a look at an old building and tries to make sure that we're running it correctly.

"One of the biggest reasons why we are where we are today is because BC Hydro was there for us."