Green bonds: Going green with investments

At TELUS, we are committed to improving the lives of Canadians and strengthening the communities where our customers and team members reside. We believe there is an  inter-relationship between our company, our team and the health and prosperity of these communities, and one of the ways we further this is through our focus on building environmentally friendly workplaces that help reduce our real estate footprint, absolute energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Anyone who has read my previous blog posts understands that I am passionate about sustainability and the commitment we have made at TELUS to create greener, healthier communities across Canada. That’s why I am extremely proud that we are one of the first corporations in Canada to issue green bonds – a special type of corporate bond whose proceeds exclusively support projects with environmental benefits.

Last week we announced that, in partnership with Westbank, we’ve issued $225 million in green bonds to retire short-term construction financing for TELUS Garden – our new headquarters in Downtown Vancouver. This is the first time in North America that green mortgage bonds have been used to support real estate financing.

What are green bonds?

Green bonds are a relatively new concept – they allow conscientious investors to make the choice to put their money into environmentally sustainable projects such as TELUS Garden. Green bonds are similar to traditional bonds, except that they finance projects with positive environmental and/or climate benefits. Unlike traditional bonds, where investors do not have visibility into how the funds will be used, green bonds require transparency so investors know the funds are being used to deliver environmental benefits.

How does financing TELUS Garden qualify as green?

TELUS_SIGNAGE_NIGHT1-web-720x420The one-million square foot TELUS Garden development in the heart of Downtown Vancouver includes a 22-storey signature office tower built to LEED Platinum specifications as well as a LEED Gold 47-storey residential tower with 424 green homes, and will be one of the most technologically innovative and environmentally friendly sites in North America. The development is one of the first in Vancouver to incorporate a district energy system, which will replace about one million kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions that would have otherwise been emitted annually by recycling heat in the building to warm air and water. Setting a new standard for sustainability, the development will reduce energy consumption from conventional sources by up to 90 per cent compared to similar buildings.

Why should investors go green?

Green bonds give socially conscious investors an effortless way to integrate environmental initiatives in to their portfolios. Green bonds are an easy way for investors to follow TELUS’ lead in recognizing the need to strike a balance between business goals with social responsibility. While green bonds are a relatively new type of investment, the green bond market in Canada is on the rise and I hope their popularity with investors continues to increase as it will in turn incentivize organizations to embark on more initiatives that prioritize environmental sustainability.

While we may be the first in North America to use green bonds for mortgage financing, I hope today’s announcement has demonstrated the potential for this type of financing for future real estate projects. With the help of environmentally conscious investors, we can support the development of more LEED Gold and Platinum buildings, which ultimately help create a healthier and more sustainable future for all of us.