What is GRESB and why should you care about it

December 12, 2021
CIM Team

What is GRESB?

GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) is an organisation that provides assessments and benchmarks that can be used by businesses to compare their performance against their peers and find actionable advice on how they can improve their ESG performance.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) has become one of the most critical measures of the performance in commercial real estate. Boards all over the world are looking at ESG as they monitor and report on the performance of the assets they are responsible for. In order to track performance, boards require a set of standards in order to give them a baseline and point of comparison.

As well as making a material difference to the operations of commercial buildings and other large buildings, building owners can report on how well they are performing across a variety of metrics to their investors and other stakeholders. GRESB has a much wider scope than initiatives such as NABERS Ratings (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) and Green Star. GRESB has also expanded its scope from the built environment to include roads, railways, electricity distribution and communication systems.

The GRESB Real Estate Assessment

In 2021, over 1,500 property companies, REITs and developers across the world participated in GRESB’s Real Estate Assessment.

The GRESB Real Estate Assessment evaluates ESG across three domains:

Management: This set of measures looks at leadership, strategy, policies, risk management and stakeholder engagement.

Performance: Measures pertaining to ESG performance at the asset level are covered by these metrics.

Development: Recognising that buildings and infrastructure are not static, this set of metrics is concerned with the design, construction and renovation of buildings and how ESG is addressed through these activities.

Assessments are conducted through surveys where participants report on energy, GHG, waste, water and building certification at asset level. All data that is submitted is kept confidential. The data is validated and then used to create industry benchmarks that individual companies can compare themselves against.

Collecting that data, particularly at the asset level, can be complex and time consuming. Each different piece of equipment produces data in its own proprietary format. That needs to be extracted and then normalised to make reporting easier. For many organisations, this can be very challenging unless they have a building management platform that can extract and normalise that data so it can transform into knowledge. This is where CIM's PEAK Platform can be a powerful ally. It’s ability to make that asset level data accessible can greatly simplify the provision of data for GRESB assessments.

The GRESB Real Estate Benchmarks

GRESB real estate assessments powers two ESG industry benchmarks that GRESB releases annually: Real Estate Standing Investments Benchmark and Real Estate Development Benchmark (they also manage two for infrastructure).

The GRESB Real Estate Standing Investments Benchmark is for portfolios which contain buildings that are currently in operation whereas the GRESB Development Benchmark is aimed at portfolios with new constructions that have yet to be completed and significant renovation projects.

These benchmarks are not created and managed in isolation. They are aligned with globally recognised reporting standards including GRI, PRI, SASB, DJSI, TCFD recommendations, the Paris Climate Agreement, United Nations (UN) SDGs, region and country specific disclosure guidelines and regulations.

As well conducting assessments and providing benchmark information, GRESB provides guidance that explains what each indicator means, how to respond to the surveys and the ability to have individual consultations to review responses and discuss any questions.

The 2021 Real Estate Sector Leaders

Australia dominated both the Real Estate Standing Investments Benchmark and Real Estate Development Benchmark in 2021. This was actually the 11th consecutive year that Australia has ranked number one in GRESB results.

2021 Real Estate Standing Investments Sector Leaders

Overall Global Sector Leaders (Achieved highest score for its sector)

SectorLeaderFundOfficeLendleaseShared between Lendlease International Towers Sydney Trust and Australian Prime Property Fund CommercialRetailLendleaseAustralian Prime Property Fund Retail


Overall Regional Sector Leaders (Achieved highest score for its sector and region)

SectorLeaderFundDiversified – Office/RetailDexusDexus Wholesale Property FundIndustrialFrasers Property Industrial Australia Pty LimitedFrasers Property Industrial Australia Pty LimitedOfficeLendleaseShared between Lendlease International Towers Sydney Trust and Australian Prime Property Fund CommercialRetailLendleaseAustralian Prime Property Fund RetailDiversified – Office/IndustrialCromwell Property Group & GrowthPointShared between Cromwell Property Trust 12, Cromwell Property Group; and Growthpoint Properties Australia, GrowthPoint


2021 Real Estate Development Sector Leaders

Overall Global Sector Leaders (Achieved highest score for its sector)

SectorLeaderFundDiversifiedISPT Pty LtdISPT Core FundDiversified – Office/IndustrialFrasers Property Industrial Australia Pty LimitedFrasers Property Industrial Australia Pty LimitedOfficeLendleaseAustralian Prime Property Fund CommercialRetailScentre Group & AMP Capital Investors LimitedShared between Scentre Group, Scentre Group; and Unisuper, managed by AMP Capital Investors Limited


Overall Regional Sector Leaders (Achieved highest score for its sector and region)

SectorLeaderFundIndustrialCharter Hall & Goodman GroupShared between Core Logistics Partnership (CLP), Charter Hall; and Goodman Australia Partnership (GAP), Goodman GroupOfficeLendleaseAustralian Prime Property Fund CommercialResidentialLendleaseLendlease Retirement Living TrustRetailScentre Group & AMP Capital Investors LimitedShared between Scentre Group, Scentre Group; and Unisuper, managed by AMP Capital Investors Limited

Why GRESB is important

Independent assessment and benchmarking for ESG is important. As ESG is a relatively new area of concern for boards - it appeared initially as a UN initiative before becoming a global movement - having a set of verified benchmarks gives boards and other senior leaders in the property industry assurance that the work they are doing is the right work. It also ensures that they are not being overtaken by their competition.

Strong performance against the GRESB benchmarks can also provide Australian property owners with a competitive advantage over their rivals. In an increasingly competitive property market, tenants are concerned with the ESG performance of the properties they access. By undergoing independent assessment, property owners can show clients they take ESG seriously and have an ongoing program to ensure they stay on top of potential issues and are committed to continual improvement.

See how CIM’s PEAK platform can help reduce your buildings' carbon emissions and minimise impact on the environment.

CIM Team
December 12, 2021
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