Survey: 80% of Real Estate Investors, Managers Have Sustainability Strategy

by | Sep 19, 2012

Real estate investors and managers are sharpening their focus on sustainability issues with 60 percent collecting and reporting energy consumption data in 2012, nearly double from last year, according to results from the 2012 Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark survey.

The 2012 GRESB Survey, which includes data from 450 property companies and funds and provides aggregate information for 36,000 properties, representing $1.3 trillion in global assets under management, found that more than 80 percent of respondents have some level of sustainability strategy and dedicated resources to implement it.

In 2011, 55 percent of respondents were considered to be so-called Green Starters, companies that started to develop sustainability policies, but show limited organizational focus, compared to 40 percent in 2012.

The survey found many of the “Green Starters” in 2011 moved up this year to the next category “Green Talk,” where companies have dedicated resources for sustainability management, carry out comprehensive external reporting, and have developed plans to implement sustainability measures.

The remaining 20 percent of those surveyed, which is nearly the same as 2011, fall into the Green Stars category. Green Stars are companies with an integrated organization approach towards measurement and management of environmental key performance indicators and which steer efforts on reduction of resource consumption.

The 2012 survey found a large gap in transparency on sustainability disclosure between listed companies and private funds. More than 50 percent of listed companies provide sustainability performance updates in their annual report, compared to 16 percent of privately managed funds. However, 46 percent of the non-listed funds directly inform investors by specific reporting on sustainability issues.

The survey found several other trends, including the rising prevalence of green building certification.  Some 51 percent of respondents included green building certificates in their portfolio, of which LEED certification was the most widely adopted.  For example, global real estate services company CBRE achieved its 2007 commitment of LEED for Existing Buildings certification for 100 buildings, according to the company’s sustainability report released in July.

Tenant engagement varies widely across continents and countries. Almost 90 percent of respondents in Australia and New Zealand actively work with tenants to reduce a property’s environmental impact, compared to 45 percent in the Americas and 54 percent in Europe.

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