Oxford Properties Group, a Toronto-based real estate development and ownership company owned by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, recently announced its plan to help retailers save on energy by installing rooftop solar panels on their commercial real estate buildings.



It plans to develop at least 1 million square feet of the panels by 2022 for all their retail and industrial real estate assets.


Retail Commercial Real Estate Is Perfect for Solar Power


Oxford Properties Group will not focus only on retailers, as other commercial real estate buildings are also great candidates for their solar power project. They plan on developing solar panels for large industrial buildings with flat rooftops as well. A prime example is The Stack, a 36-storey commercial office tower in downtown Vancouver, which is still under construction.


However, retail buildings are much better to invest in when it comes to solar paneling, according to Darryl Neate, Oxford Properties Group’s director of sustainability.


“Office buildings have, obviously, smaller roofs and a lot of equipment competing for space on top of the building,” he said in an interview.


Contrary to office buildings, shopping centres don’t have too much equipment that would cast shade on the solar panels. They have a lot of flat roof space, which is precisely what makes them perfect for solar installations, according to Neate. 


Oxford Properties Group already started its solar power project in 2017, when it installed 600 rooftop solar panels on Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The retail building has 35 acres of flat roof surface, which made it ideal for installing a solar array of a whopping 20,000 square feet.


Oxford’s plan was to help the building generate clean electricity that would enable its huge retail space of nearly 1 million square feet to have green energy for at least 20 years, if not longer.


Huge Energy Savings


According to Oxford, Yorkdale Shopping Centre generated more than 230,000kWh of pure electricity in the course of one year, due to the installation of solar panels. That’s enough energy to provide the retail building with a great source of power for its interior and exterior lighting for three months.


This is all after Oxford installed additional rooftop solar panels of 93,000 square feet on top of the Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The green roof they installed helps the building not only become more energy-efficient, but it also helps on hot summer days to be better insulated.


“Our green roof helps cool in the summer as well,” Neate said.


Neate added that Oxford’s solar power project is supposed to help Ontario shopping centres cut down on electricity bills by 20-30%, depending on the size of rooftop solar arrays. “We have reduced our carbon emissions by 35% between 2010 and 2015, and we’ve pledged to reduce our emissions by an additional 30% by 2025,” he added.


The project definitely means plenty of cost savings for retail commercial real estate owners, and a lot of ROI for the Oxford Properties Group as well. It’s a huge step towards sustainability, and the time for building it couldn’t be more perfect than now.


To gain more insight about Canada’s retail real estate investment opportunities, in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario provinces, contact ReDev today. 


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