Participants in the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) survey continue to grow in number and demonstrate improved performance. Results for 2015, released Sept. 2, provide an overview of 707 organizations with 61,000 properties worldwide, collectively valued at U.S. $2.3 trillion (CAD $3 trillion). This represents an 11 per cent expansion of the GRESB database since 2014, while the average score jumped to 56 from last year’s 47.
“The global property industry increasingly incorporates sustainability issues, making them a core part of business strategies,” GRESB’s chief executive officer, Nils Kok, observed as the survey findings were introduced at the organization’s Amsterdam headquarters. “This is reflected in the widespread adoption of sustainability management practices and ongoing efforts to address critical issues related to energy, water, waste and human health.”
GRESB measures performance in seven categories — management; disclosure and assurance; climate risk and resilience; energy; water and waste; health and well-being; tenant and community engagement — and assigns weighted scores based on whether the initiative is policy and management oriented (30 per cent) or can be tangibly implemented and measured (70 per cent). Results are then plotted on a four-quadrant graph to categorize participants in ascending status as Green Starters, Green Talk, Green Walk or Green Stars.
Notably, 56 per cent of participants achieved Green Star ranking in 2015. That’s up from 36 per cent in 2014, although the report notes that there is “still significant variation” in their scores.
At the other end of the scale, the portion of Green Starters dropped to 18 per cent from 38 per cent last year. “Many of those entities are now Green Talk, which represents 22 per cent of total participants,” the report surmises.
As in 2014, the 2015 GRESB results position Australia/New Zealand as the best performing global region with an average score of 69 from its 47 participating entities. Europe’s average score was in sync with the global average at 56, while both North America and Asia fell slightly behind with average scores of 54.
Among the 155 private and listed real estate entities reporting in North America, Canadian companies stand out as regional leaders in two categories. Bentall Kennedy was named sector leader in the diversified properties category and Oxford Properties Group was tagged as leader in the diversified office/retail category. More in depth analysis and discussion of the Canadian results will occur on September 15 when Kok presents survey findings in Toronto in cooperation with the Real Property Association of Canada (REALpac).
It’s expected he’ll highlight achievements in energy and water efficiency and growing implementation of on-site renewable energy generation, which have contributed to a 3 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 2.87 per cent reduction in energy consumption and 1.65 per reduction in water use across GRESB’s global database.
“The recent reductions in energy, carbon and water consumption achieved by the commercial real estate sector are impressive,” Kok affirms. “Yet, in absolute terms, the sector’s environmental impact is significant and more work remains to be done.”