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ESG Reporting: What is GRESB?

As real estate investors and property owners utilize ESG reporting, the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) provides transparency and consistency for related standards and reporting.

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March 25, 2022

It’s becoming increasingly important that today’s companies are upfront about their core values. Investors and customers alike want to know what a business stands for, from how it is managed to its environmental efforts. In addition, many companies are required to follow environmental regulations and, in some countries, to provide data related to governing bodies. Many companies have turned to environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting to help improve transparency and information sharing.

As real estate investors and property owners collect and track the data needed to properly assess ESG risks and opportunities across their processes and assets, organizations like the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) help develop consistency around ESG standards and reporting. If you’re starting your ESG journey or want to improve your processes, GRESB is an excellent option.

Who runs GRESB?

With over 200 members, GRESB is both a mission-driven and industry-led organization. The investor-led group started in 2009 to provide financial markets “with actionable insights, ESG data and benchmarks.”

The organization comprises two components: an independent foundation and a benefit corporation. The GRESB Foundation owns and develops standards. GRESB BV, now owned by Summit Partners, is responsible for assessments, benchmarks and related support services for member companies.

GRESB also utilizes the expertise of industry working groups. These groups work with GRESB to help ensure that standards, assessments, benchmarks and other GRESB services align with industry needs.

What does GRESB do for customers?

At a basic level, GRESB offers annual assessments and measures ESG performance. Real estate professionals can feel assured that assessments are driven by industry standards and conducted by an independent third party.

Annual assessments — Guided by the established standards, GRESB conducts annual voluntary assessments for real estate portfolios (e.g., real estate investment trusts (REITs)), real estate debt providers, and infrastructure funds and assets. These reviews gather key information about ESG performance and sustainability practices.

ESG measurement GRESB scores each company, asset and fund using the data gained through the ESG assessments. The GRESB Score is used to compare each company against its peers within the parameters of region, sector or, for real estate, property type with a maximum of 100 percent. Each company then receives a GRESB rating, which investors can use to evaluate assets and ESG performance. GRESB 5 Stars is the highest rating and recognition.

What are the benefits of participating in GRESB?

GRESB provides an established framework for measuring your ESG performance. Commercial real estate and investors or owners with multiple properties will have a score and rating from an impartial, trusted organization outside your own business. With a GRESB assessment, you’ll be able to compare your assets against your peers. This comparison can help you identify areas you’d like to strengthen. Additionally, you’ll be providing investors with consistent, reliable data, which can help strengthen engagement and working relationships.

Since GRESB covers environmental policies, assessments are also applicable to other green building programs. For example, a GRESB score can count towards operational green building certification. You can also use your GRESB scores when applying for LEED certification.

UL and GRESB

UL is a GRESB member and understands how to help companies track and manage their ESG data and report to GRESB. UL offers helpful solutions and advisory services, including our Turbo Buildings™ ESG Software that integrates directly with the GRESB online questionnaire for easier reporting of your ESG data. From training to reporting, learn more about how UL’s ESG and GRESB advisory services for commercial real estate can help you uncover long-term sustainable value and reach your performance goals.