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QuadReal Property Group Navigates the ‘Road to Context’

Image credit: Tim Graf

Our corporate partners were increasingly being asked to contextualize their sustainability goals and performance. They wanted to understand what tools were available and how to approach the issue of context. The Embedding Project’s Road to Context guide was written to help support this process.






Stephanie Bertels
and Jamie Gray-Donald
will speak at
New Metrics Boot Camp:
Strategy & Operations

at New Metrics '17.

As we described in a previous blog post, the Road to Context guide outlines four key steps to contextualize your organizational strategy and goals. At each step, we review the methodologies, frameworks, tools and ideas that are shaping how companies are approaching context.

The four steps include:

  • Acknowledging the need to operate within global, regional and/or local socio-ecological thresholds;
  • Transparently understanding and prioritising a set of focus areas in relation to key socio-ecological trends at the global, regional and/or local level;
  • Setting strategy and goals by transparently articulating the current performance gap and what portion of this gap the business will address; and
  • Transparently tracking performance against realistic trajectory targets.

To illustrate how corporate practice is evolving, we also created a casebook that celebrates the early leaders in this space. We are posting new cases all the time, which you can search by issue and industry to find the ones most relevant to you.

In addition to adding new cases, for the last few months, the Embedding Project has been working hands-on with some of our partner companies as they pilot the Road to Context framework. QuadReal Property Group — a global real estate developer and manager that oversees a portfolio of $24.5 billion in real estate assets — has been one of the first out of the gate piloting this work. They will be joining us at NewMetrics’17 to share what they have learned along the way.

For QuadReal, taking a contextual approach just makes sense, ensuring they are doing their due diligence as a fiduciary. The company has been working its way through the four steps of the contextual framework, thinking through its approach to key thresholds, prioritising issues and factoring context into its strategy and goals. It has grouped its work into four key pathways: efficiency, health, community and innovation.

A first step was to determine where its efforts can have the most impact. To inform its strategy, global thought leaders were interviewed and not surprisingly, carbon came out as a high-priority issue; and it’s the one that QuadReal elected to tackle first. Meanwhile, they are gathering data and laying the groundwork to tackle other issues and have committed to being transparent about that process. Globally, buildings account for over a third of energy use and about 20 percent of total GHG emissions. The Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) have both also ranked carbon as a top focus area for the real estate sector. 

The majority of QuadReal’s carbon emissions come from the operational phase of buildings (as opposed to development) and energy use represents roughly 90 percent of their operational footprint, so energy efficiency has become a key focus.

Taking a broader view, QuadReal knows that reducing the carbon emissions related to the building areas under its operational control is not enough — it recognizes the value of helping its tenants, partners and industry peers. QuadReal has acknowledged that it has a role to play in influencing energy use across its sector. The Group is actively engaging its tenants, providing energy-efficiency programs and tools. It has also committed to transparency — actively sharing its data, processes and research in order to help smaller companies leapfrog in their own sustainability journeys.


Stephanie is the Director of the Centre for Corporate Governance and Sustainability and an Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University’s… [Read more about Stephanie Bertels]


Robert is passionate about leveraging communications to address social and environmental issues. Currently, he is providing support to both QuadReal Property Group and the Embedding Project in the areas of communications strategy, content development, research, and project management. He recently…
[Read more about Robert Hamill]


Jamie is the VP of Sustainability at QuadReal Property Group. From property development through to building management Jamie finds ways that sustainability practices can enhance our risk-adjusted returns. He helps our employees play effective roles in nurturing healthy, vibrant,…
[Read more about Jamie Gray-Donald]


Alexa oversees corporate partnerships, brand management, communications, and website development at The Embedding Project. She holds a BCom from McGill University and recently completed her Masters in Business Administration at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business.


[Read more about Alexa Harder]