GRESB is transforming sustainable real estate. Is your business up to the challenge?

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Is your business participating in the 2016 Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) Assessment? If sustainability is important to you and your business, you should consider it. Below, JLL’s Tom Branczik explains the value that GRESB brings to the real estate industry and why you should participate.

The seventh annual GRESB Assessment was launched on April 1st.  As participating organisations embark on what can be a lengthy submission process, it’s timely to remind ourselves why GRESB should be taken seriously.

The answer, in part, lies in its name. The Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark is unique in that it’s the only global sustainability standard to assess and compare real estate portfolios’ approaches to sustainability. More than 700 property companies and funds participated in the 2015 Assessment, representing $2.3 trillion in value and covering more than 61,000 assets in over 50 countries.

Secondly and perhaps most importantly, it has an influential user base. In 2015 this included institutional investors representing $1.6 trillion in assets under management who rely on GRESB as a due diligence, engagement and monitoring tool to improve returns and manage risk. Together (and individually), they can use their substantial clout to encourage organisations to participate.

And third, it is useful to see GRESB as a barometer for sustainable real estate. Not only does GRESB define good practice, it pushes our understanding of sustainability as it relates to real estate more broadly.

What does the 2016 Assessment tell us about future trends for sustainable real estate?

  • Corporate governance issues are growing in importance and scope. Expect to see more disclosure on impacts relating to diversity and equality opportunities, executive compensation, forced or compulsory labour, labour-management relationships and shareholder rights.
  • Greater rigour is being demanded with respect to waste and water impacts. New pilot indicators cover waste management and water reuse and recycling performance data. In addition, organisations are encouraged to provide information on efforts to improve water and waste efficiencies.
  • Finally, the social impact of real estate is rising up the agenda. Most significant for real estate investors and owners is the introduction of a pilot health and wellbeing module that contains ten potentially stretching indicators covering employees and assets.

GRESB participants can rest assured that these pilot indicators and modules are voluntary in 2016 and your performance won’t count towards your overall score this year. Nonetheless, participation is a valuable opportunity to gain experience.

Our advice for anyone participating in the 2016 GRESB Assessment is to start early. A bit of forward planning will pay dividends and allow ample time to collect the required data and navigate potential challenges. GRESB is accepting submissions through to July 1, 2016.

In 2015, JLL’s Upstream Sustainability Services supported GRESB submissions for entities with assets of more than £35 billion in value. Our services cover the lifecycle of a GRESB submission from readiness assessments to submission management and checking, communications and performance benchmarks.

To learn more about how we can support your submission, please contact Tom Branczik.

BranczikHeadshotTom Branczik is a senior consultant with JLL’s Upstream Sustainability Services group. The multi-disciplinary Upstream team helps you to define your sustainability vision and implement your strategy, through transparent sustainability reporting, stakeholder consultation, and assurance. To learn more about the value that the Upstream team can bring to your business, click here.

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