April 13, 2022
When organizing environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting, working with a group like GRESB (formerly called the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) can help property owners and real estate investors track their data to provide transparency for their investors, business partners and customers. Here’s a closer look at how reporting to GRESB can benefit your company.
Established framework and impartial ratings
GRESB reporting measures ESG performance within an established framework, providing a score and rating from a trusted, impartial organization. Assessments are based on industry standards, including issues that the industry and investors have noted as essential measurements of “sustainability performance of real asset investments.” GRESB notes that these measurements align with international reporting frameworks, such as the Paris Climate Agreement, United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and regional and country-specific guidelines. Additionally, GRESB meets with industry working groups and relies on their expertise to help ensure that standards, assessments and benchmarks align with current industry needs.
While real estate professionals can have peace of mind knowing their annual scores’ relevance to current standards, they can also feel confident knowing that an independent third party conducts all GRESB evaluations. Assessments, scores and ratings stem from the same standardized criteria and compare to similar businesses. Companies know that GRESB provides an accurate, objective and comprehensive image of their ESG performance through their consistent and impartial approach.
”Sustainability means different things for different people, but having a consistent framework with standardized benchmarks can be incredibly helpful for establishing meaningful goals and objectively measuring progress,” said Carlos Correia, vice president and general manager of Assets and Sustainability at UL. “When companies work together through GRESB, the collective progress toward environmentally responsible practices can make a significant difference.”
Clear market comparison
GRESB participants also receive an analysis of their scores within a peer group of similar businesses/properties in a particular area or region. These peer groups contain a minimum of six companies to provide a broad picture of comparable companies’ ESG performance.
Since every party in a group undergoes evaluation and earns a rating based on the same factors, this market insight provides a backdrop for your company’s score. You can see areas where you surpass similar companies, and you can identify areas in which you may need or want to improve based on overall performance within your industry and market.
Building and strengthening investor relationships
Companies participating in GRESB assessments receive consistent, reliable data through metrics that industry experts agree provide key performance indicators. Property owners and investors can use GRESB’s analytical tools to monitor and assess their performance in these benchmarked areas, including real estate development and infrastructure assets. These tools can help them regularly analyze how they compare within specific parameters, such as similar companies and real estate investments within a defined area.
When investors have consistent and up-to-date information, it may help them feel confident in the investment and the business relationship. Additionally, this open data sharing can help investors and property owners work together on actions that best support their business and ESG goals. Transparency with data and collaborative efforts can help build strong, trusting working relationships among a company’s investors, real estate professionals and property owners.
Green building certifications and healthy buildings
GRESB assessments include environmental considerations, such as indoor air and water quality and electrical use. If sustainable, environmentally conscious practices are on your list of goals, your company may be able to utilize GRESB scores when applying for some green building certifications. For example, while not a certification mark, UL’s Verified Healthy Building Mark counts toward the GRESB indicator for having an operational green building certification scheme. You can also use data from the GRESB assessment in your application for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) operations and maintenance credits, such as indoor air quality.
You can use air and water quality monitoring information from GRESB for WELL and WELL Health-Safety Program ratings, too. As more people seek reassurance that they live and work in safe environments, customers may consider this data and additional certifications value-adds.
“It says a lot about your work if you are not just meeting regulations and standards but are also exceeding them,” Correia said. “Building a sustainable future where the world is safer for the next generation is essential. When a company goes beyond the basic requirements and is proactive in creating and maintaining healthy living and working environments, that shows their dedication to creating a better world.”
UL and GRESB
As a GRESB member, UL understands the ins and outs of helping companies track and manage their ESG data. With intuitive solutions like Turbo Buildings™ ESG Software that integrates directly with GRESB online, UL helps make it easier to report your ESG data. We also offer advisory services, such as GRESB gap analysis and review of existing ESG initiatives.
Contact us to learn more about how UL’s ESG and GRESB Advisory Solutions can help your commercial real estate business meet its sustainability goals.