GRESB, the global standard for portfolio-level sustainability assessment in the real estate sector, today released its 2015 data and industry report. The data and report are based on an assessment of 707 property companies and private equity real estate funds, representing 61,000 assets and USD 2.3 trillion in asset value. The report provides new insights regarding the energy and sustainability performance of the global real estate industry, documenting a 3% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2014, a 50% increase in on-site renewable energy generation, and a 19% improvement in overall ESG performance.

The global property industry is at the heart of critical global issues that include resource constraints, climate change, and urbanization. There is strong evidence that more sustainably designed and operated buildings can provide solutions to these challenging issues, while also creating value for real estate investors and shareholders.

The 2015 GRESB Report provides new data showing that the global real estate sector is increasingly integrating environmental, social and governance considerations into corporate policies and business strategy. Critically, the data also shows that policy and strategy are backed by actual implementation of energy and water efficiency programs, and demonstrable improvements in sustainability performance.

Report Highlights:

  • More property companies and funds report on sustainability: 707 companies and funds, representing USD 3 trillion and 61,000 assets – an 11% response increase from 2014
  • Better environmental performance: on average, the sector achieved a 04% reduction in GHG emissions, 2.87% reduction in energy consumption, and a 1.65% reduction in water use
  • Significant uptake in renewables: on-site renewable energy generation of 445GWh in 2015 (0.5% of total energy consumption) from 296GWh in 2014
  • Australia and New Zealand continue to significantly outperform other regions with an average GRESB Score of 69 – compared to a global average of 56

The global sustainability performance of the real estate sector improved across all areas of environmental, social, and governance performance. Trends in GRESB data show that sustainability goals and ESG disclosure are now firmly part of mainstream business practices: 93% of property companies and funds incorporate sustainability into business objectives. With extreme weather events and shifting weather patterns threatening economies and the built environment, 54% of all property companies and funds have policies in place that address climate risks. In addition, the real estate sector increasingly recognizes the health, safety and well-being of occupants, the community, and the supply chain as sources of both risk and opportunity.

“The 2015 GRESB Report and data show that the global property industry increasingly incorporates sustainability issues, making them a core part of business strategies. This is reflected in widespread adoption of sustainability management practices and on-going efforts to address critical issues related to energy, water, waste, and human health. The recent reductions in energy, carbon and water consumption achieved by the commercial real estate sector are impressive, yet in absolute terms, the sector’s environmental impact is significant and more work remains to be done,” says Nils Kok, CEO of GRESB