VANCOUVER, British Columbia — TELUS Garden, a mixed-use, partnership office building in Vancouver, has issued $225 million in green mortgage bonds. It’s the first time in North America that green mortgage bonds have been used to support real estate financing.
Green mortgage bonds allow investors to put their money into environmentally sustainable projects such as TELUS Garden. Proceeds raised by the 500 Georgia Office Partnership, the joint venture of Vancouver-based TELUS and Westbank — also based in Vancouver — building TELUS Garden, will be primarily used for short-term construction financing for the office tower.
"When the TELUS Garden partnership was looking at options for retiring the short-term construction financing and establishing new financing for the TELUS Garden office tower, issuing green bonds quickly became the obvious choice," said Andrea Goertz, TELUS senior-vice president and chief sustainability officer, in a statement. "Green bonds are a relatively new concept allowing conscientious investors to make the choice to put their money into environmentally sustainable projects like TELUS Garden. We hope our issue of green bonds will encourage more Canadian organizations to pursue environmentally sustainable developments."
The one-million-square foot TELUS Garden development in the heart of downtown Vancouver includes a 22-story office tower built to LEED Platinum specifications as well as a LEED Gold 47-story residential tower with 424 green homes and retail space. The multi-tenant 496,000-square-foot Class AAA office tower is TELUS’ new headquarters and executive office. Located adjacent to SkyTrain, the development offers facilities for bicycles and charging stations for electric cars. The development is one of the first in Vancouver to incorporate a district energy system, which will prevent about 1 million kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions annually by recycling heat in the building to warm air and water.
"TELUS Garden utilizes the most modern design initiatives to decrease its dependency on traditional forms of energy use," said Ian Gillespie, president of Westbank Projects, in a statement. "By employing the architecture in a thoughtful way, and when coupled with the creative reuse of neighboring excess heat, the building uses 90 percent less energy from the grid.”
The privately-placed 3.4 percent 10-year bonds will mature on July 22, 2025. The green bond issue includes senior notes secured by the environmentally and technology-advanced office tower. The companion residential tower is under construction, scheduled for completion next year, and is not being financed by this bond issue.
TELUS Garden is registered with the Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) as a LEED certification candidate under the LEED Canada for Core and Shell Development 2009 Rating System. The partnership expects the property will achieve the highest level of LEED certification, being LEED Platinum, a designation achieved by only a limited number of buildings in North America. LEED is a rating system consisting of prerequisites (green building strategies that must be included in any LEED certified project) and credits that a project can elect to pursue to gain points toward LEED certification. The Issuer submitted its LEED certification application to the CaGBC for review in May 2015 and expects to receive the LEED Platinum certification for the property by mid-2016. Achievement of the certification, when received, will be reported on the project website.