Responsible Property Investing in Canada: Factoring Both Environmental and Social Impacts in the Canadian Real Estate Market [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 92 (S1):99 - 115 (2010)
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Abstract

Institutional investors and corporations increasingly recognize that extra-financial determinants of business performance can both create value and uncover significant risks within a business or investment portfolio. For companies that invest in, develop, own, or operate commercial real estate assets, this awareness of extrafinancial impacts has led to a significant interest in what has been called "responsible property investment (RPI)". Within the field of RPI, green real estate — real estate investment and management that seeks to reduce the environmental impacts of building construction and operations — has begun to receive attention. This attention has been extended over the past decade to community property development projects, where both social and environmental considerations related not only to the building, but also the project site and surrounding community are integrated into management and investment decisions. Some examples of these projects include affordable and workforce housing, urban revitalization and brownfield redevelopment. More social-focussed issues such as labour and workplace considerations are also key components of responsible property investing, yet to date labour issues have received little attention in the RPI literature and workplace considerations are reflected indirectly through environmental considerations in the green building literature. This paper explores responsible real estate investment in Canada by taking an integrated approach in examining both environmental and social factors and their potential impact on such investments. A series of semi-structured interviews are conducted with key stakeholders in Canada to gain insight into how using environmental and social factors may influence long-term risk and financial returns in real estate investment in Canada with particular emphasis on institutional investors engaged in these practices. Data is used to analyse the impact that ESG considerations have on financial performance of these assets. Jantzi-Sustainalytics ESG ratings are used along with the stock price changes of fourteen real estate companies and REITs to interrogate this question

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