EUROPE - Institutional real estate investors and fund managers in Europe have pooled their resources to launch an association and benchmarking platform to improve the environmental performance of existing buildings.

The Green Rating Alliance was launched by some of Europe's leading real estate investment players, including AEW Europe, Allianz Real Estate, AXA Real Estate, GE Capital Real Estate Europe, ING Real Estate Investment Management, KanAm Grund and LaSalle Investment Management.

The not-for-profit association held its first event in London and revealed its environmental benchmarking tool, which is designed to work across European markets.

The 'Green Rating' tool has been developed and trialled for several years by a number of members in multiple European countries and should enable investors to enhance the value of their assets and work with tenants for improvements.

It differs from existing environment-performance certification schemes in that it seeks to address existing properties rather than new developments.

Jean-Francois Le Teno, global head of sustainable development at AXA Real Estate, said green building certification 'tags' were based on blueprints of new buildings and not on actual performance, whereas Green Rating would help investors to improve the value of their assets.

The environmental performance of buildings is assessed at two distinct levels: 'intrinsic' and 'actual'. The former is based on the building design and equipment, while the latter evaluates the building according to current activities and operations.

The intrinsic and actual performance of a building is assessed against six key environmental criteria. Energy, carbon and water are assessed by a quantitative process, while transport, wellbeing and waste are assessed qualitatively.

The assessments also result in practical recommendations for improving the performance of buildings and portfolios through improvement of occupier behaviour and management of operations, as well as investments for technical enhancement.

To date, Green Rating has measured the environmental performance of more than 4m square metres of European property space in more than 60 cities across 12 countries.

The management of the Green Rating Alliance is governed by a board of directors comprising the current members of the organisation and chaired by Pierre Vaquier, chief executive at AXA Real Estate.

Vaquier said: "The founding partners of the Green Rating Alliance recognise the property industry is at the core of sustainability issues, given that it produces 40% of total worldwide CO2 emissions and is responsible for the use of 40% of natural resources.

"The creation of this alliance designed and managed by real estate sector practitioners provides a truly independent platform for this to be addressed in a pragmatic and cost-effective way."

A technical workshop will take place in July to review the tool and discuss how it can be refined and enhanced. Green Rating Alliance will also hold external training for new members in May.