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 and at our Toronto 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:  2019 CDP/Q.C4.1a/Abs 1
1. Given our limited environmental footprint, we are focusing our efforts on electricity and natural gas consumption at our head office properties, rather than on GHG emissions from these sources.

Achieved a 26 per cent reduction in energy consumption (electricity and natural gas) in 2018. 

Reduced our emissions from building sources (electricity and natural gas only) by 57 per cent in 2018.

Steps Taken to Achieve our Objectives

Several upgrades are budgeted and planned every year to continue making progress towards our energy efficiency objectives. For instance, projects for 2019 include replacing exterior building lighting for LEDs.

Highlights from our Group Companies

Carbon performance

Great-West Lifeco has a strong commitment to minimizing its environmental footprint, to reporting high-quality emissions data and reducing emissions across its operations. In 2018, the company demonstrated significant progress towards achieving its medium- and long-term GHG emissions reduction targets for its Canadian properties. 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 and operational enhancements. Between 2013 and 2018, the company achieved a 17.7 per cent reduction in GHG emissions intensity in its overall managed real estate portfolio.

Great-West Lifeco participated in the annual CDP Climate Change program for the seventh consecutive year, and its 2019 submission again included its global operations. In 2019, Great-West Lifeco received an A- (Leadership) ranking from the CDP, achieving the highest rating among Canadian insurance companies for the fifth consecutive year.

IGM Financial also continued to take action on climate change and responded to the CDP for the seventh consecutive year in 2019. The company obtained a score of A (Leadership) for their response to the 2019 CDP questionnaire, earning a spot on the A List for the second consecutive year. IGM Financial is the only Canadian firm to be included in the A List for 2019. 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. In 2018, the company achieved both its short and long-term reduction targets as it continued to focus on behavioural changes and facility upgrades.

IGM Financial also significantly reduced its commercial travel following the introduction of online training for new IG Wealth Management advisors. In addition, following the decision, in 2016, to begin purchasing green fuel and carbon offsets, IGM Financial reduced the impact of commercial air travel by approximately 45 per cent in 2018. 

Sustainable Buildings

GWL Realty Advisors’ goal is to evolve its sustainability platform to meet the demand for smarter, climate-resilient, more sustainable and healthier buildings for tenants and residents. By investing in and developing mixed-use and residential spaces and certified green buildings, the company is helping to address a growing (affordable) rental shortage in many major cities in Canada, while also doing its part to support sustainable buildings.

Its Sustainability Benchmarking and Conservation Program covers its managed office properties, setting out five-year reduction targets for each of these properties, and using 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. As 2018 marked the culmination of the 2013-2018 five-year target-setting initiative, GWL Realty Advisors reported that thanks to the combined efforts of its property and asset management teams, it has surpassed its energy, water and GHG emissions reduction targets as at year-end 2018, seeing reductions of 10 per cent, 8 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively.

In 2019, GWL Realty Advisors was recognized as a leader in sustainability by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), earning a Green Star ranking for the fifth consecutive year as well as a third consecutive GRESB ‘5star’ rating. The GRESB Real Estate Assessment has placed GWL Realty Advisors among the top four per cent of participants in the Global Diversified category (of 230 submissions). In addition to being recognized as a leader in the field, its score increased 18 per cent from its first submission in 2015.

Throughout the year, GWL Realty Advisors continued to pursue its target of achieving green building certifications for all eligible properties. To date, 92 per cent of its eligible commercial portfolio by floor area is BOMA BEST® or LEED® certified, representing over 36 million square feet of its managed portfolio. In 2018, its parent company, Great-West Lifeco, marked a historic milestone with all of its corporate head offices being BOMA BEST® Gold certified.

GWL Realty Advisors was also recognized at both national and regional levels for its sustainability focused property management practices. In 2018, five awards were presented to properties it manages, relating to sustainability, staff, and operational excellence. These awards include the BOMA Certificate of Excellence (5000 Yonge St., Toronto), CREST Race2Reduce Award (33 Yonge St., Toronto) and the Don Smith Commercial Building Award (London Life Head Office).

IGM Financial understands that the efficiency of the buildings it occupies can have a significant impact on its sustainability goals. For example, Investment Planning Counsel moved its head office to a LEED® Gold office complex with state-of-the-art energy and water efficiency in 2016. Also, Mackenzie Investments’ head office premises are located in certified LEED® Gold and BOMA BEST® buildings. Environmental sustainability is also considered an increasing priority as IG Wealth Management signs into new leases for its client offices across the country. 

IGM Financial is committed to increasing its use of low-carbon, renewable energy and choosing a sustainable way to heat the IG Wealth Management and Mackenzie Investments primary corporate offices with renewable natural gas. This is accomplished through an agreement with Bullfrog Power, a green energy provider. In Manitoba, where the IG Wealth Management head office and IGM Financial’s data processing facility are located, over 99 per cent of electricity is produced by GHG-free hydroelectric generating plants that do not burn fossil fuels. Fifty-five per cent of the total electricity used in all of IGM Financial’s office space is situated in provinces with low carbon sources – Manitoba, Québec, and British Columbia.


The IGM Financial Green Council is responsible for creating a consistent culture of environmental awareness and practices across its operating companies. The council empowers employee green committees at both IG Wealth Management and Mackenzie Investments to inspire, educate and motivate their colleagues to reduce their environmental impact both at work and at home. These green committees host educational and engagement events for staff, work on projects with facility and operations management to implement continual improvements, and have assisted in developing challenging targets to reduce paper, waste and energy consumption. Recent projects have focused on reducing plastic water bottle uses, rolling out centralized waste bins, composting food waste, reducing individual printing, and launching a campaign to reduce electricity usage of computers.

IG Wealth Management participates in the Manitoba Race to Reduce initiative through both a leadership advisory role and by actively participating in the race to reduce energy use at the head office building it owns. Race to Reduce is a challenge which began in 2017, 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. The company also placed first in the 2018 Winnipeg Commuter Challenge for participation and avoided 2,270 kg of carbon.

Great-West Lifeco’s commitment to the environment extends beyond its own operations and into the communities where it lives and works each day. In 2018, the company renewed its commitment as National Sponsor of the Nature Conservancy of Canada Conservation Volunteers Program. This support helps the ongoing development and delivery of volunteer and education training programs that connect Canadians of all ages with nature while engaging them in protecting our country’s species and natural habitats. Each year, the program reaches about 2,700 volunteers across the country. These individuals donate the equivalent of over 1,250 workdays combined. From pulling invasive plant species to surveying waterfowl, building boardwalks and cleaning up coastlines, these volunteers are dedicated to helping Nature Conservancy of Canada’s on-the-ground conservation efforts and making a positive impact on nature.  

Great-West Lifeco’s Canadian offices celebrated Earth Week to raise awareness around the importance of creating a more sustainable world. Internal teams and external vendors were invited to speak to employees about the importance of simple, everyday actions, such as recycling, composting and energy conservation. In March, they also joined together with 180 countries worldwide to turn off the lights for Earth Hour and show their support for climate change action.

At Imerys, five energy workshops were organized in 2018 to raise awareness amongst employees and bring on ideas relating to different energy efficiency topics like energy savings. Energy seminars have also been conducted to answer specific questions that could improve efficiency on specific energy-related subjects. In addition, in 2018, energy e-learning modules have been designed on the IM-Pulse training platform to provide an overview of Imerys energy strategy as well as knowledge and awareness on energy efficiency. A dedicated energy community on Imerys’ intranet also serves as platform to share knowledge, good practices and events related to energy. Finally, since 2017, Energy Challenges are organized to promote best practices development and sharing across the operations and energy communities of Imerys. In 2018, three Energy Challenges were launched, focusing on combustion optimization, management of peak power demand and heat recovery.

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