By Sean Kahn

On 1 March 2018, the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) published the 2018 Assessment Reference Guides and Modules. These provide detailed information on each of the assessment indicators and are designed to support participants as they complete the 2018 GRESB Assessments.

Why GRESB Matters?

GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) is a global benchmarking tool used by investors to assesses and compare the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance of real estate and infrastructure portfolios. The assessment is administered annually through a survey and covers qualitative data (e.g. policies and governance procedures for managing sustainability) and quanititive data (e.g. energy and water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and waste).

The benchmark allows investors to improve the sustainability performance of their investment portfolios and make better long-term investment decisions by considering intangible drivers of value. Based on a recent GRESB survey, 94% of investor members are now using ESG data to support them when making decisions on allocating their capital.

This increasing demand for ESG data from the investment community means that privately held funds, REIT’s, developers and property companies who do not participate in GRESB, or score poorly, may struggle to attract interest from investors and find themselves subject to higher cost of capital.

In 2017, a record 850 entities covering 77,000 assets around the world and representing $3.7 trillion in gross asset value participated in the GRESB Real Estate Assessment. Those who participated had the added benefit of being able to receive business intelligence on how they perform against their peers, tools to improve and track their sustainability performance, and a communication platform to engage with internal and external stakeholders.

Figure 1: Number of Participants in the GRESB Real Estate Assessment[1]

Key Dates for 2018

  • 1 March  2018- Release of Real Estate Assessment Reference Guide and Release of Resilience and Health & Well-being Modules
  • 1 April 2018- GRESB Assessment Portal Opens
  • 8 June 2018- Response Check Request Deadline
  • 1 July 2018- Submission Deadline
  • 5 Sept 2018- Results Day

Our Top Tips

  1. Understand what is required – the GRESB Pre-Assessment is a great tool for first timers
  2. Focus on performance indicator data – GRESB requires at least two years of historical data so data-gathering can be quite time consuming.
  3. Allocate resources properly, considering at an early stage whether an external consultant is required to help collate sustainability performance data or review your policies and procedures.
  4. Carefully read the criteria for the information required – GRESB asks for information in a very specific way.
  5. Keep an eye out for changes – every year the information required changes, this can be subtle minor changes but don’t assume what you did last year can be repeated. We have highlighted some of the key changes in this news story.

If you would like support collating your GRESB submission or require assistance on how you can improve your GRESB score, please contact http://www.cundall.com/Services/Sustainability/Sustainable-strategy-and-governance.aspx

[1] https://gresb.com/2017-real-estate-results/

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Sean Kahn, Sean Khan, Sustainable strategy and governance

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