The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

How to build real estate projects for a sustainable city?


In this day and age, all real estate projects should employ a sustainability-focused approach, as recommended in the United Nations sustainable development goals. Furthermore, if the project is located in our metropolis, the Sustainable Montréal 2016-2020 Plan developed by the city should also be taken into account. Considering these elements and focusing on residents’ well-being is essential to the success of every real estate project.

Sustainable cities: the keyword for every successful real estate project

What is a sustainable city?

A universal vision

According to the eleventh sustainable development goal of the United Nations, “a sustainable city is a hub for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development.” The goal is to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Sustainable cities benefit residents, helping them grow socially and economically. This is even more important when we consider that the population of city-dwellers worldwide is expected to reach 5 billion by 2030 – hence the necessity of effective urban planning and management practices to face the challenges of urbanisation.

A thought process that starts with this type of question:
What is the vision for the planned building and its integration in the neighbourhood? What is the air quality in this area? What are the shared public spaces like?
Source: Sustainable Cities: Why They Matter, UN

A metropolitan vision

The Sustainable Montréal 2016-2020 Plan cites the Ville de Montréal’s goal of giving the entire population and future generations access to healthy, sustainable, human-scale neighbourhoods. To achieve this, the municipal administration is employing a collaborative approach, working alongside multiple organizations. The document also establishes major priorities for making our city green, prosperous, and a good place to live. Among other things, it aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

How do we implement this vision?

By employing a human-centred approach.

An approach focused on people and the creation of healthy and safe living spaces

In order to establish truly resilient and prosperous cities, a comprehensive, human-centred approach must be employed. Cities must be made into living spaces that will be attractive in the long term: places that are ideal to live, work and relax in. As for the buildings that make up these cities, we can’t limit ourselves to just ensuring that they are protected against flooding and earthquakes. Every project should offer green spaces and access to good transportation networks, among other things, to ensure the comfort of its residents. It is also essential to keep up with the needs of current and forthcoming generations and think of elements that can elicit memorable and renewable experiences. In other words, it is necessary to look beyond the doors of a real estate project. Focusing on this aspect creates a real competitive advantage for developers.

A long-term vision

It is essential to develop and invest in properties, real estate projects and companies that are helping to create the cities of tomorrow. To achieve this, the real estate sector must act carefully and responsibly and consider the long term in order to generate optimal results while taking risk into account. It must rely on entrepreneurship and operational excellence and remember that the value of a property depends upon the environment in which it is located. Time and care must be taken when choosing areas for new urban development projects. After all, occupants who are satisfied with a building will be more likely to stay or come back, whether they are office employees, retailers or hotel customers.

Case study: Place Ville Marie Esplanade

How does all of this work in practice? Let’s take the example of the Place Ville Marie Esplanade, one of the cornerstones of Ivanhoé Cambridge’s Projet Nouveau Centre initiative. The goal is to make the Place Ville Marie Esplanade a prominent cultural and experiential destination, on par with other major international metropolises. It will celebrate creativity and the Montréal way of life, offering permanent and seasonal activities. There will be rest and revitalization areas, outdoor sports activities and improved gastronomic offerings, among other things. Furthermore, access to the Esplanade from McGill College will be improved: the parking entrance will be moved and a large stairway will be put in place. The Esplanade will also offer a space for urban interaction. The idea is for the space to become a gathering place for Montrealers. Key local actors such as Sid Lee Architecture, Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneaux Architectes, Pomerleau, BPA electromechanical engineers and NCK structural engineers have been solicited to help carry out the project, in an effort to maintain a comprehensive and integrated vision. This also helps create resilient cities.

In the spirit of collaboration, Ivanhoé Cambridge has decided to lend its expertise to the McGill College Avenue redevelopment project. This avenue links McGill University to Place Ville Marie and offers an exceptional view of Mount Royal. It is bordered by most of the skyscrapers in the city and offers access to major commercial areas both above and below ground. Many public and private projects will soon be transforming this location. In time, the Ville de Montréal would like to offer a space adapted to all users, whether they are Montrealers, workers, businesspeople or tourists, for decades to come.

The real estate sector is in a unique position to move forward with the concept of sustainable cities, because it contributes to their creation. In that sense, its responsibility goes beyond the four walls of a building. In order to design a real estate project that contributes to the well-being of its occupants, one must listen, be proactive, and opt for a human approach. That’s the way to bring about positive change.

About Ivanhoé Cambridge
Ivanhoé Cambridge develops and invests in high-quality properties, real estate projects and companies that shape the urban framework of vibrant cities all over the world. Ivanhoé Cambridge is a real estate subsidiary of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, one of Canada’s leading institutional fund managers.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. As a result, the Chamber cannot be held responsible for published content
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