How is the real estate sector doing in terms of energy, carbon, water and waste? See what GRESB’s 2017 assessment found

by Brianna Crandall — October 6, 2017 — GRESB, the investor-driven Global ESG Benchmark for real assets, recently released the results of its annual 2017 GRESB Real Estate Assessment for the North American real estate sector.

Globally, a record 850 property companies and real estate funds completed the Assessment, representing 77,000 assets and over USD 3.7 trillion in value. The average GRESB score increased to 63 points, up 3 from 2016. Listed property companies continue to outperform private entities, and entities focused on offices outperform other property types.

The new GRESB data shows tangible improvements in environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. Globally in 2017, the real estate sector:

  • Reduced like-for-like energy consumption by 1.1% — equivalent to 79,827 U.S. homes;
  • Reduced like-for-like carbon emissions by 2.2% — equivalent to 113,000 passenger cars;
  • Reduced like-for-like water consumption by 0.5% — equivalent to 999 Olympic swimming pools; and
  • Diverted 52.9% of landfill waste — equivalent to 399,008 truckloads.

The results show that the energy improvements made in recent years by the global real estate sector are in line with the energy reduction targets as set out in the United Nations-supported Sustainable Development Goals.

Sander Paul van Tongeren, co-founder and managing director at GRESB, remarked:

We are delighted to see an increase in the number of participants and assets across all regions for eight consecutive years. It’s encouraging that, once again, GRESB participants were able to lower energy, water and carbon emissions. We hope that the commitment and meaningful actions taken by the 850 GRESB participants serve as an example to others and help to drive improved sustainability performance more broadly across the market.

Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) and GRESB board member, stated:

GRESB is the only industry-driven organization committed to assessing the ESG performance of real asset portfolios globally — with sustainable real assets as the end goal. Now in its eighth year, GRESB Real Estate Assessment participants are showing their commitment to providing quality data and making a big impact on performance. This year saw a record number of GRESB assessment participants, and GBCI will continue to invest in GRESB to deliver the immense market transformation potential.

North American real estate sector highlights:

  • In North America, 204 companies and funds representing USD 2.3 trillion in assets under management reported on their ESG performance in 2017. This represents a 15% increase in participants from 2016. The average GRESB Score for the region increased to 64 from 59. This not only represents a higher rate of increase than other regions, but also places the North American sector ahead of the global average.
  • North American property companies and funds achieved a 2.5% reduction in energy consumption, a 2.9% reduction in carbon emissions, and a 1.3% reduction in water consumption.
  • Over 59 companies and funds in North America completed the voluntary Health and Well-being Module, a sign that the region is embracing this important industry theme, says GRESB. The organization also announced that the Center for Active Design is the newest Global Partner. Both the Center for Active Design and Delos (founder of the WELL Building Standard) have been instrumental in elevating this topic in the real estate sector, and GRESB is reportedly excited to now be partners with the two leading initiatives on health and well-being.

For more information on the 2017 GRESB data and Regional Sector Leaders, visit the GRESB real estate results page. GRESB also offers links to this additional data: