Energy and Carbon Efficiency

We work to reduce the energy use and environmental impacts associated with our activities, and collaborate with our group companies in their efforts to likewise reduce their impact. Finding ways to reduce energy consumption is essential to operating an efficient business. It enables the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to climate change, while helping our businesses address the rising demand for, and cost of, energy.

Our Strategy

The majority of our business activities are undertaken at our location in Montréal, Québec. Our limited energy and carbon footprint is mostly tied to business travel and the use of electricity and natural gas at our Montréal head office. Our energy and carbon efficiency strategy is mainly focused on reducing the energy consumption from our office buildings.

Our Objective

2011-2020 OBJECTIVE*

8 per cent reduction in consumption of electricity and natural gas at our head office properties by 2020, using 2011 as a baseline1.

* Reference:  2018 CDP/Q.C4.1a/Abs 1
1. Given our limited environmental footprint, going forward, we will be focusing our efforts on electricity and natural gas consumption at our head office properties, rather than on GHG emissions from these sources.

Decreased our consumption of natural gas and electricity at our head office properties by 20.6%, using 2011 as a baseline.

Steps Taken to Achieve our Objectives

Our corporate head office, which represents the majority of our operational footprint, has maintained its BOMA BEST® certification in 2017.

In 2017, our subsidiary Square Victoria Real Estate also continued to work towards achieving the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification (EB 2009) for our Montréal office buildings.

Highlights from our Group Companies

Carbon performance

Great-West Lifeco has a strong commitment to minimizing its environmental impact, to reporting high-quality emissions data and reducing emissions across its operations. In 2017, the company strengthened this commitment by establishing long-term GHG emission reduction targets for its Canadian properties, specifically 27 per cent by 2025 and 50 per cent by 2036. Throughout the year, its property and asset management teams worked collaboratively toward these goals, implementing realistic and economically feasible projects to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, such as building equipment retrofits, data centre optimizations and operational enhancements. Between 2013 and 2017, the company achieved a 17.7 per cent reduction in GHG emissions in its managed real estate portfolio.

Great-West Lifeco participated in the annual CDP Climate Change program for the sixth consecutive year and its 2018 submission included again its global operations. In 2018, Great-West Lifeco received an A- (Leadership) ranking from the CDP, being the highest ranked Canadian insurance company on the CDP’s annual list.

IGM Financial is also committed to transparency and accountability on climate issues. As such, responding to the CDP for the sixth consecutive year, IGM Financial obtained a score of A (Leadership) for their response to the 2018 CDP questionnaire, earning a spot on the A List and ranking in the top five financial services companies in Canada for the fifth year in a row. IGM Financial has set short- and long-term GHG emission reduction targets using 2013 as a base year. The objective is to achieve a 40 per cent reduction in absolute GHG emissions from energy use at owned assets by 2020 (Scope 1 and 2) and to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in absolute GHG emissions from energy use at owned assets by 2036 (Scope 1 and 2). Thanks to its various energy efficiency projects underway and its strategy of purchasing renewable energy for its owned office building, the company’s Scope 1 and 2 emissions have decreased substantially, representing a 66 per cent reduction in Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions from 2013 to 2017.

IGM Financial also significantly reduced its commercial travel in 2017 with the introduction of online training for new Investors Group advisors. In addition, following their decision, in 2016, to begin purchasing green fuel and carbon offsets, IGM Financial reduced the impact of commercial air travel by approximately 35 per cent in 2017. 

Sustainable Buildings

GWL Realty Advisors is committed to improving the performance and sustainability of new and existing buildings within its managed portfolio. Launched in 2015, its Sustainability Benchmarking and Conservation Program includes all Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life head office and investment properties in Canada. It sets out five-year reduction targets for each of its office properties, and uses industry benchmarks and regional averages to gauge performance. This has helped property teams drive operational and efficiency gains at corporate offices and investment properties, ultimately reducing their environmental footprint across three core areas, including: energy efficiency, water efficiency and waste minimization.

GWL Realty Advisors achieved a “Green Star” ranking from the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) survey for a third consecutive year in 2017. Ranking number one in Canada, GWL Realty Advisors is also ranked among the top 8 per cent of 850 global real estate management firms, up from the top 10 per cent in 2016. 

In 2017, all of Great-West Lifeco’s Canadian corporate head offices were BOMA BEST® certified and targeting Gold level upon re-certification in 2018. Throughout the year, GWL Realty Advisors continued to pursue its target of achieving green building certifications for all eligible properties. To date, 89 per cent of its eligible commercial portfolio by floor area is BOMA BEST® or LEED® certified, covering over 300 buildings across Canada. 

It was also recognized at both national and regional levels for its sustainability focused property management practices. In 2017, six awards were presented to properties managed by GWL Realty Advisors, relating to sustainability, staff, and operational excellence. Great-West Life’s head office in Winnipeg won the BOMA Manitoba’s The Outstanding Building of the Year (TOBY) award, the most comprehensive award of its kind in the commercial real estate industry, recognizing excellence in building management and a strong commitment to energy conservation and environmental sustainability. 

Overall, in 2017, GWL Realty Advisors’ pipeline of active sustainable developments represented over 2 million square feet. One example of this commitment to continuous improvement of their operations is the opening, in 2017, of a new child care centre in Winnipeg, located in a building that is heated and cooled with an energy efficient geothermal system that has a near-zero greenhouse gas footprint. 

Great-West Lifeco’s and IGM Financial’s state-of-the-art data processing facility in Winnipeg also integrates industry best practices to limit its environmental footprint while maintaining stringent data security and availability requirements. The data centre has significant environmental features and high-efficiency systems that reduce power consumption and GHG emissions.

In 2015, as part of its commitment to increasing their use of low-carbon, renewable energy and their objective of finding a sustainable way to heat Investors Group and Mackenzie Investments primary corporate offices with renewable natural gas, IGM Financial entered into an agreement with Bullfrog Power, Canada’s leading green energy provider. This commitment results in annual savings of close to 1,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent at Investors Group and of over 200 tonnes of Scope 3 GHG emissions at Mackenzie.

It is also worth noting that 94 per cent of IGM Financial’s corporate office space is in green-certified buildings.

Since 2016, Investment Planning Counsel moved its head office to a LEED® Gold office complex with state-of-the-art energy and water efficiency, organic composting and recycling and employee collaboration and fitness facilities. The office was built with a focus on environmentally sustainable construction materials.


The IGM Financial Green Council is responsible for creating a consistent culture of environmental awareness and practices across its operating companies. The council empowers green committees at both Investors Group and Mackenzie Investments to inspire, educate and motivate their colleagues to reduce their environmental impact both at work and at home. These green committees create customized initiatives unique to their cities and employees and help foster employee engagement. 

In 2017, Investors Group supported organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Green Action Centre, Green Kids, Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and Fort Whyte Alive. It continued its leadership role in Manitoba Race to Reduce, a challenge where commercial building landlords and tenants publicly commit to work together to reduce the total collective energy use in participating buildings by at least 10 per cent over four years, and committed to be a founding sponsor of GoManitoba, an online program to assist commuters in partnering with others to carpool, bike or take transit together.

Great-West Lifeco’s commitment to the environment extends beyond its own operations and into the communities where it lives and works each day. For more than a decade, it has supported the Earth Rangers school outreach program, which encourages young people to adopt sustainable behaviours and protect wildlife and their habitats. Also, as climate change is expected to have a considerable impact on Canadian communities over the coming decades, it has helped establish and continue to support the Prairie Climate Centre, which facilitates cutting-edge climate research and policy recommendations, helping governments, businesses and community members understand the impacts of climate change and respond effectively. In 2017, the Centre released an internationally recognized research series, Building a Climate-Resilient City, outlining innovative risk management approaches that can help cities adapt to climate change and ensure communities are safe and healthy for families. 

A Corporate Properties Sustainability Working Group is established at Great-West Life to help direct sustainability initiatives with a particular focus on GHG reductions through various building retrofits at its multiple locations, but also best practices sharing and employee engagement events. For instance, Great-West Lifeco’s Canadian offices celebrated Earth Week by showing how small life changes can have a big environmental impact. In March, they also joined together with 187 countries worldwide to turn off the lights for Earth Hour and show their support for climate change action.

In 2017, an energy community was created on Imerys’ Enterprise Social Network “Chatter” to share knowledge and good practices. The community is supported by webinars and regional seminars designed to promote energy management. Best practices challenges were also launched in 2017 to strengthen the operations commitment to energy efficiency. The first challenge was dedicated to energy measurement while the second challenge focused on combustion optimization. 

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