06/22/2021 | by
Rooftop of a building surrounded by trees
Photo courtesy of Boston Properties.

This is a case study that's a part of the 2021 REIT Industry ESG Report, an annual report detailing the REIT industry's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance details in the publicly traded U.S. REIT industry. Featured case studies showcase REIT leadership and ESG innovation from a variety of sectors and serve as a practical tool for stakeholders to assess the scale and impact of the REIT industry's ESG commitments and initiatives.

Boston Properties (BXP) aspires to continuously evolve and advance its sustainability practices. As such, BXP sought to become one of only approximately 350 companies world-wide with their targets approved at the highest threshold through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)—believing that aligning its emissions reduction targets with climate science would further elevate the organization's approach to sustainability.

To complete the SBTi approval process, BXP had to align its targets to SBTi's criteria and then present these targets to the SBTi Target Validation Team—which then classified BXP's target ambition and determined that it is in line with a 1.5°C trajectory, currently the most ambitious available.

Through this SBTi process, BXP committed to reducing combined scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 39% per m2 by 2024 from a 2018 base year, and scope 3 GHG emissions 14% per m2 by 2025 from a 2018 base year—and intends to publicly communicate and disclose its progress against these goals moving forward.

To meet these ambitious targets, BXP is looking beyond the purchase of offsets, and rather exploring opportunities to improve its materials selections and reduce embodied carbon, such as through the greater optimization of steel and concrete consumption as well as the integration of more timber into building designs. BXP is doubling down on its efforts to shift its portfolio from brown to green power, while also pursuing reductions in overall energy usage.

"We believe it is possible to advance sustainability without sacrifice. From realizing cost efficiencies, to reaping environmental benefits, to incorporating added building features for stakeholders, we find sustainability initiatives can be a ‘win-win' for all parties—without requiring drastic trade-offs or behavior change. ESG is not just a theory, it is about getting things done and making good happen—and Boston Properties is so determined to show the intentionality behind our sustainability actions that we have chosen to set some of the most ambitious targets possible."
Ben Myers, Vice President of Sustainability

BXP's commitment is physically manifested through its fall 2020 completion of a 5.2 megawatt solar photovoltaic onsite renewable energy system at Carnegie Center in Princeton, New Jersey. Developed under a power purchase agreement, the 3,000-panel system will annually avoid 4,600 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

BXP's approach to sustainable development and operations has been recognized by numerous industry groups recently, including the Company's designation as a 2020 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year, completion of its Fitwel Champion commitments to be named a 2020 Best in Building Health award winner, and ranking at #56 on Newsweek magazine's 2021 list of America's 400 Most Responsible Companies—the highest ranking given to an office REIT and the second-highest ranking of any property company.

Boston Properties is the largest publicly held developer and owner of Class A office properties in the United States, concentrated in five markets: Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

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