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Vancouver home to Canada’s greenest office giants

BentallGreenOak merger banners latest super-green tower launched in city’s downtown core
Tony Astles, managing partner and head of Canadian real estate services for BentallGreenOak: “B6 [office tower] is wrapped with sustainable features like triple-glazed windows and efficient mechanical systems.” Photograph by Chung Chow

The latest green office tower is about to ascend in downtown Vancouver, bannered by the newly merged BentallGreenOak, an investment deal that has created a mega-developer with a combined $47 billion in assets.

The $940 million merger, inked last December between iconic Vancouver developer Bentall Kennedy and New York-based investment firm GreenOak Real Estate, was finalized July 1.

BentallGreenOak’s first Vancouver flagship is a 32-storey office tower at 1090 West Pender aiming for a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold standard. It will also feature a green roof and the latest WELL v2 registration.

WELL, from the International WELL Building Institute, is a global movement to transform buildings by combining occupant health and comfort with sustainable design.

The B6 tower, as it is called, dovetails with Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan. A main goal of this policy is to move buildings toward low or near-zero carbon emissions by 2030, a key part of the city’s recently announced “six big moves to reduce carbon pollution” strategy.

The tower is scheduled for completion by February 2023. Ten floors totalling 170,000 square feet has been leased to WeWorks, and Astles said BentallGeenOak will be taking 45,000 square feet on floors seven to nine in the 540,000-square-foot tower.

With a record-setting 4.6 million square feet of new office space rising in downtown Vancouver over the next three to four years, the city’s developers have apparently embraced green construction methods.

“Designed for efficiency, B6 is wrapped with sustainable features like triple-glazed windows and efficient mechanical systems for a more healthy and energy-efficient experience for our tenants,” said Tony Astles, managing partner and head of Canadian real estate services for BentallGreenOak.

WELL amenities include a penthouse conference centre, private three-storey fitness facility for tenants and extensive shower and storage facilities for bikers and runners. 

B6 is not the only office tower gunning for green credits.

A few blocks away on Melville Street, Oxford Properties is building the tallest and potentially greenest office tower Vancouver has ever seen.

The 36-floor Stack is one of only two highrise buildings in Canada being built to the Canada Green Building Council’s net-zero carbon standard.

Net zero means that the building will be fully powered with renewable energy and will produce as much energy as it uses.

“The Stack breaks new ground by incorporating employee wellness into the fabric of its design through its use of natural light, outdoor space and cycling amenities [and] we’re future-proofing the building with the adoption of smart building technology,” said Chuck We, vice-president of office at Oxford, the real estate arm of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

At the Stack project’s June 20 groundbreaking, City of Vancouver Deputy Mayor Rebecca Bligh noted that it is adding more than a first-class workspace that meets the city’s climate action strategy.

Bligh said the development has also resulted in “more than $50 million in community amenities, which will include child care, subsidized housing and public art in the downtown.”

The Stack has already signed up blue-chip tenants Ernst &Young LLPand law firms Blake, Cassels & Graydon and DLA Piper, which have pre-leased 207,000 square feet in the 525,000-square-foot tower.

Building to the latest green standards is initially more expensive, but Vancouver’s downtown office market can likely absorb those costs better than anywhere else in Canada, if not the world. The office vacancy in downtown Vancouver is forecast to plunge to 1% this year, the lowest rate recorded since Avison Young started tracking it in 1996.

In the last two years, the average rent for office space in downtown Vancouver has soared $44 per square foot, the highest in the country and fourth highest in the world, according to CBRE

This story has been updated since first published.