Commercial Real Estate: Solar panels to top new Stack office tower

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Oxford’s project at 1133 Melville is called The Stack and will be the tallest office tower in downtown Vancouver.


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A downtown Vancouver office tower will be among a group of new and existing buildings that will have substantial solar power systems installed by a major Canadian developer and landlord.

Oxford Properties Group recently announced it would be developing a minimum of one million square feet of rooftop solar panels on its buildings across North America by 2022. The Stack, a 36-storey office tower being built at 1133 Melville St. on the western edge of downtown Vancouver’s financial district, will be among them. The tower is expected to complete in early 2022.

Oxford is the real estate investment arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. It says the North American pilot solar project will generate approximately six million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean energy annually as part of its wider pledge to reduce its carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2025.

The Stack, a 540,000-sq.-ft. twisting four-box tower, is co-owned by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. For its part in the pilot project, the building’s rooftop will feature 70 horizontal panels covering 1,250 sq. ft. Those panels will generate 26,000 kWh of energy on an annual basis.

Oxford said it couldn’t specify the total number of buildings or the specific locations for the rest of the solar program, but the core of the plan involves their Ontario retail portfolio and five shopping centres in particular, said Darryl Neate, Oxford’s director of sustainability. Oxford said it had no firm plans yet for additional locations in Metro Vancouver.

Large, flat shopping centres or industrial buildings make obvious candidates for solar paneling, Neate said in an interview. “Office buildings have, obviously, smaller roofs and … a lot of equipment competing for space on the top of (the) building.”

The Stack is one of only two high-rise towers in Canada to be part of the Canadian Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Pilot program and is targeting LEED Platinum core and shell design certification.

The building will have an advanced, more efficient exterior envelope, as well as advanced lighting and mechanical systems. The rooftop solar power system is part of the building’s sustainability objectives, Neate said.

Oxford’s first major solar project was installed in 2017 at Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto. That project includes 600 rooftop solar panels installed on 20,000 square feet of the shopping centre’s roof.

The Yorkdale solar project generates over 230,000 kWh of clean electricity per year, Oxford said. Square One Shopping Centre and Scarborough Town Centre are next to be outfitted with solar panels, with further solar projects across Oxford’s retail and industrial properties to be installed by 2022.

Neate said they want to be a leader in building and owning sustainable buildings. “We have reduced our carbon emissions by 35 per cent between 2010 and 2015 and we’ve pledged to reduce our emissions by an additional 30 per cent by 2025.”

Neate claimed that Oxford has reduced their energy costs to the tune of $65 million since 2010. “We anticipate our investment in rooftop solar projects to reduce a portion of the electricity costs of their customers at the malls by 20 to 30 per cent.

“We will be tracking that,” he said. “It’s cost savings for our customers. It’s renewable energy that we’re creating, and (there will be) financial returns for Oxford on the projects as well.”

evan@evanduggan.com

twitter.com/EvanBDuggan





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