More than half of the major Canadian real estate portfolios participating in the GRESB global benchmark for environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance this year hold multifamily assets. Cross-referencing the list with Canadian Apartment’s Who’s Who 2019 survey, 13 of them collectively own and/or manage more than 1,000 rental apartment buildings encompassing about 76,500 units. Three others have a sparser complement that translates into an additional handful of buildings.
The GRESB class of 2019 boasts: solely or primarily residential players, including Killam Apartment REIT and Minto Group; diversified portfolios with a significant share of multifamily, including HOOPP, QuadReal Property Group, GWL Realty Advisors, Concert Properties and BentallGreenOak (formerly Bentall Kennedy); and others with smaller stakes relative to their office, retail and/or industrial profiles, such as Triovest Realty Advisors, Fiera Properties, Manulife and Ivanhoé Cambridge.
In total, more than 1,000 respondents, representing 100,000 individual assets across 64 countries, were benchmarked in this year’s assessment, bringing a fairly wide mix of portfolios under scrutiny. GRESB awards overarching continental scores, but the numbers and values of assets underpinning those scores vary considerably.
“In the Americas, we have some gigantic portfolios,” Neil Pegram, GRESB director for the Americas, observed at the recent 2019 results presentation in Toronto.
Accordingly, based on data reported at the asset level, Canadian participants appear to carry more weight within GRESB’s residential property category than their numbers might suggest. For example, the energy intensity performance indicator is calculated only from information supplied from properties with 100 per cent data coverage, and 307 Canadian multifamily assets accounted for 6.2 per cent of those properties. Meanwhile, 16 per cent of all reported building certifications for management and operations were attained through BOMA BEST, a certification only available in Canada.
Although Australia/New Zealand has consistently achieved the top regional score throughout GRESB’s 10 year history — this year with an average score of 80.9 — there is no asset-level information about energy intensity or building certifications for multifamily properties in the global region. In total, 41 portfolios collectively holding 2,107 assets valued at USD $242 billion underpin the 2019 score.
In comparison, the 26 Canadian participants attained an average score of 76.6, surpassing the global average of 72. It’s more difficult to parse out the number of contributing assets from roughly 38,300 cited for the Americas region, which includes portfolios located in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Brazil. However, Canadian portfolios submitted energy intensity information for 2,247 individual assets versus 713 properties factored into that performance indicator in Australia/New Zealand.