Educational articles and case studies on sustainability best practices and leadership with the industry from GRESB Members and Partners. Here is our guidance and editorial calendar.
Ahead of COP26, due to take place in Glasgow this November, IPCC has released its most recent report on climate change. The report reaffirms it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land, and that limiting human-induced global warming requires limiting cumulative carbon emissions, and reaching at least net zero carbon.
Faced with ever-increasing pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the world is currently in a phase of global warming. The question is no longer how to avoid this trend, but how to curb it and adapt as well as possible. We’re also seeing more pressure from the market, where there’s a growing awareness of issues around ESG and an increasing focus on assets’ extra-financial value.
AMSTERDAM, August 30, 2021 – Participation in this year’s GRESB assessments grew by 26% to 2,227 real estate and infrastructure entities, surpassing expectations amidst the global pandemic. “We are pleased to see such a high level of participation in this year’s GRESB benchmark coverage, particularly considering the business disruptions we have all experienced over the…
o limit global warming to 1.5°C, the world needs to be carbon neutral by 2050. Real estate investors are racing to capture the business opportunities and mitigate risks in the transition towards a zero-carbon economy. To date, 128 asset managers, representing approximately $43 trillion in assets under management (AUM), are committed to the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative and supporting the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner.
Achieving carbon neutrality has become increasingly important in recent decades due to global community concerns over climate change. The destructive impacts of emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), on climate change are widely accepted.
According to the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), in 2021, buildings will be responsible for 25% of the European greenhouse emissions and for 40% of the European energy consumption. We must roll up our sleeves and work together to ensure a liveable future.
The newly released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), indicates that climate action is becoming increasingly urgent to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change. Businesses play an important role in addressing climate change by reducing what are often significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from their operations and value chain.
aces another looming threat: a climate that’s warming even faster than we previously realized. A startling new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned of more extreme weather events to come as the temperature continues to rise.
Environmental management and sustainability reporting have become crucial for companies, investors, and governments around the world as countries strive to achieve the Paris Agreement target of net-zero emissions by 2050.
Governments are developing national strategies to address this issue, which include emissions trading schemes, voluntary initiatives, carbon or energy taxes, as well as regulations and standards on energy efficiency and emissions. In turn, companies must discern their position on GHG emissions as they work toward carbon neutrality in order to comply with these new restrictions.
As more companies realize the need to decarbonize their real estate portfolios in the face of increasing climate risk and rising investor expectations, guidance on how to transition to Net Zero Carbon (NZC) on the portfolio level is crucial. While most owners and developers are familiar with the typical Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR) to deliver on individual project goals, development teams will need to start by creating a portfolio-level OPR and expand its lens beyond basic OPR strategies to specifically focus on NZC to decarbonize at scale.
If the world is to reach net zero emissions by 2050, electricity networks will need to be carbon-free in advanced economies by 2035 and globally by 2040. This will require rapid scaling of renewable energy investments, tripling to around USD $4 trillion per annum by end of this decade, plus the meeting of hundreds of other milestones set out by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its recent ‘Net Zero by 2050’ report.
Radical improvements in the energy efficiency of existing buildings are needed if we are to reach net zero. But should their performance be assessed by their EPC grade or actual operational energy use? Both are the answer, but these are chalk and cheese, so property owners and investors must learn to deal with two very different agendas.
It’s time to get to work. With more than 30% of global emissions attributed to the built environment, the real estate sector has a tremendous role to play in softening the most catastrophic consequences of our warming planet. Thankfully, many real estate companies have moved past the era of lofty, mismanaged sustainability goals and have begun setting net zero targets that align with the latest climate science.
There’s much to celebrate in the advancement of climate-informed investment decisions. This is largely owing to the growth of actionable data that measures climate and environmental risk and opportunities — the “E” in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG). However, there is little captured about “S,” which means that these climate-informed decisions can be made without considering social impacts.
When we support our clients in their GRESB reporting season, it becomes clear time and again that data availability and quality are often a challenge. Despite the increased use of software solutions, the situation has not changed much.
Businesses are expected to have timely, accurate, and verifiable financial information on hand at all times. As investor appetite for ESG disclosure and sustainability reports increases, the demand for non-financial data is rising nearly to that level of expectation. Stakeholders, as well as the public, are acutely aware of the risks associated with a company’s poor sustainability performance, unfavorable working conditions, and lack of diversity among management, and other factors.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Most sustainability professionals have heard this adage enough times to repeat it in our sleep (and possibly elicit an eye roll). Still, the unfortunate truth is that the “measure” part of the equation is often easier said than done.
Because climate change is constantly shifting the overall environmental equilibrium, “bounce-back” approaches are becoming less and less applicable in practice. A “bounce-forward” approach accounts for continuous adaptation to disturbances or changes to the steady state.
In my years working at the intersection of health and design, I’ve noticed that something interesting tends to happen in conversations about resilience. Often, when the word is mentioned, everyone nods in vigorous agreement – while thinking of very different things.In real estate, of course, resilience tends to be all about designing structures to withstand the increasingly violent consequences of a warming earth. The conversation might turn to things like base-isolated corporate campuses or minimalist modern floating homes.
Resilience is an ongoing initiative that continues to evolve rapidly. We believe that developing a comprehensive approach to addressing physical climate risk across the organization is key to resilience management. Our focus on awareness, evaluation, and integration supports us to further future proof our assets as we all look to transition toward a low carbon economy and help the fight against climate change.
The growing severity of climate-related risks and, as 2020 has shown us, the risk of global social, health and financial events we cannot anticipate means we will increasingly need to anticipate, respond, and adapt to a range of risks. To increase the resilience of our built environment, we will need to combine all available approaches: resistance, reliability, redundancy, response and recovery. Together they can help our buildings and infrastructure survive and thrive.
The real estate sector accounts for more than a third of CO2 emissions in Europe, yet only 1% of building inventory is renovated each year. This reality has led to growing market awareness, with the emergence of new European and national environmental regulations.
Real estate owners are feeling pressure from all sides to take climate change, and its inherent risks, more seriously. Regulators are demanding more transparency surrounding climate risk disclosure, with the UK and New Zealand implementing mandatory climate risk reporting to align with TCFD recommendations. Investors are also increasingly incorporating climate risk and resilience into their due diligence and decision-making processes.
Historically, climate-related risks have been mitigated through grey infrastructure such as sewers and HVAC systems, singular in function and difficult to retroactively expand. However, the built environment industry is waking up to nature-based solutions as a multifunctional approach to climate adaptation whilst meeting wider ESG priorities.
Building back – whether it’s our offices, schools, housing or federal buildings – we should ensure that we’re adopting a people-first approach to enhance these spaces. And the past year has demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that fostering health and well-being is not only a moral imperative, but an investment that always pays dividends.
With the environmental impact of real estate now increasingly important to investors, frameworks are evolving to help evaluate and improve the sustainability performance of assets. For example, GRESB (formerly the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) is an internationally recognised benchmark assessing the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance of property.
The real estate sector in Europe accounts for nearly half of the region’s energy consumption and more than a third of CO2 emissions. Despite this reality, only 1% of real estate inventory undergoes renewal each year. Faced with the climate crisis, European countries have set themselves a common goal: achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
The European Green Deal has launched an ambitious plan to transform the EU economy to a sustainable, climate neutral economy by 2050. To support the plan a range of working groups, action plans and new regulations have been established. All parts of the Green Deal are relevant to real estate, but in particular the outcomes of the EU Action Plan on Sustainable Finance are worth paying close attention to in the coming months.
The three US green building legislation trends you need to know about This article was originally published in Commercial Property Executive. See original article here. Introduction The United States has not always been a world leader when it comes to buildings that are good for the planet or supportive of human health. Rather, the market…
ESG reporting has developed into an essential factor in assessing ESG initiatives and communicating on sustainability commitments, and COVID-19 has only stood as a catalyst for this trend. The pandemic has demonstrated to the market that easily neglected ‘non-financial’ factors are equally as important to long-term sustainability of businesses as any financial factors. It is truly an exciting time to be a part of the movement towards knowledge sharing and harnessing new opportunities as means of managing and reporting towards ESG factors.
Lately, three letters have been blooming everywhere whenever conversation revolves around sustainability reporting: ‘ESG’. The concept of ESG first appeared in 2001, as such, the topic is not new, prescient concepts such as social, ethical, or environmental issues (SSE), or socially responsible investment (SRI) were already reported by different industries and businesses in the preceding decades. The letters alone might not mean much, but together they represent an entity’s behavior on environmental issues, its engagement with society, and the strength of its governance.
The emphasis in ESG reporting is usually on the ‘E’. The ‘G’ is also getting some attention with transparency and diversity also becoming focal points on boardroom agendas. However, post-pandemic the future of ESG reporting must lie with the ‘S’ and particularly with stakeholder engagement.
By elevating ‘S’ on the ESG agenda, we might just get close to squaring the circle through the adoption of a more holistic understanding of “value”. Embracing a longer-term time horizon and broadening the scope of metrics used to measure success would alleviate concerns associated with pressures organisations face for short-term returns. The real challenge is to find the right balance between harmonising social reporting requirements alongside the flexibility needed to effectively address local needs.
ESG reporting has surged in prominence amid a growing realisation among investors and financial institutions that sustainability risk is investment risk. The devastating impact of COVID-19 has further accelerated interest in companies’ ESG disclosure and sustainability performance. But with ESG performance soaring to the top of the agenda, the nascent industry of ESG reporting appears destined for change.
Stakeholders are no longer focused on financial data alone, and organizations today face increasing market pressure to meet new criteria – especially with the emergence of European regulations like the Tertiary Decree, MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards), the Dutch Building Decree, etc.
Since COVID-19 hit the world in an unexpected way, it has demonstrated to corporates that the easily neglected ‘non-financial’ factors are indeed equally important to long-term sustainability of businesses. The concern on ESG issues is higher than ever before.