Report: Global Real Estate Sector Is Reducing Environmental Impact

The Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) has announced the release of its 2013 Report, which is based on sustainability data gathered from 543 property companies and funds, providing aggregate information on 49,000 properties across the globe. The report shows that the real-estate sector is significantly reducing its environmental impact, decreasing energy consumption by 4.8 percent over the 2011-12 period—equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 163,000 homes. Over the same period, greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 2.5 percent and water consumption decreased by 1.2 percent.

Importantly, there are strong regional differences in energy reductions. Despite the continued focus of EU regulators on the built environment, Europe lags behind other regions, with only a small decrease in energy consumption (-0.7 percent). In North America, reductions in energy consumption are the largest globally, with a decrease of -6.6 percent in energy consumption (1,235 GWh) and -4.8 percent for greenhouse gas emissions (317,600 metric tonnes).

The GRESB Report demonstrates a clear and upward trend in sustainability performance of the global real estate industry. In 2013, 119 property companies and funds achieved the “Green Star” status, recognition for outstanding management and implementation of key sustainability issues. Australia continues to demonstrate global leadership in sustainability performance as the top-performing region in the GRESB Survey, whereas performance differences between Asia, Europe, and North America are becoming smaller.

Sustainability is increasingly integrated into day-to-day business decision-making, with over 80 percent of participants involving senior management in the reviewing and monitoring of sustainability processes. The adoption of risk management strategies related to sustainability is widespread: all participants now perform sustainability risk assessments, both for standing investments and for new acquisitions. This sharply contrasts with results for 2012, when only 60 percent of participants performed sustainability risk assessments.

A leading global source of comprehensive portfolio level sustainability data for the real estate industry, GRESB’s market coverage has grown substantially in 2013. The number of companies and funds disclosing information on sustainability performance has increased by nearly a quarter as compared to 2012. Much of this increase can be attributed to Asia and the United States. GRESB now covers 46 countries in six continents and is the leading and largest source of comprehensive portfolio level sustainability data, representing USD 1.6 trillion of gross asset value.

For further information and to download the report and press materials including graphs and charts, visit the GRESB website.

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