GRESB’s coverage of the infrastructure asset class grew by 43% this year, measuring the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of 107 funds.

The real assets sustainability benchmark provider, which was first created to cover just real estate, said its Infrastructure Fund Assessment now covers 33 of IPE Real Assets’ Top 75 Infrastructure Managers (those participating with at least one fund).

The number of individual assets covered by the Infrastructure Asset Assessment had also increased by 40% to 393.

More than half (57%) of funds participating in the fund assessment submitted more than 25% of their assets, which enables them to obtain GRESB scores, an overall measure of ESG performance at the portfolio level.

The average GRESB fund score remained level with 2018, at 55 points. The average score in the asset assessment fell from 47.6 to 45.5, due to lower scores by newer participants.

Europe has the largest number of participating assets (60%), but the lowest average asset score (42.1). Oceania assets lead the pack in scoring, with an average of 55.5.

The best performing sector, with an average GRESB asset score of 63.2, was network utilities, followed by data infrastructure (52.5), ‘diversified’ (52.8) and energy and water resources (52.7).

“Now in its fourth year, we are delighted that the industry continues to endorse GRESB Infrastructure as demonstrated by sustained growth in participation,” said Rick Walters, director of infrastructure at GRESB.

“While the take-up of GRESB Infrastructure since its launch in 2016 has been positive, this year’s results show that there is still much work to do to scale up reporting and impact.

“We look forward to supporting our participant and investor members to use this fresh data in engagement with stakeholders and to build on this platform to accelerate the transformation towards sustainable infrastructure.

“Whilst the global infrastructure and SDG gaps are large and formidable, strong ESG performance is one of the keys to unlocking further infrastructure funding and bridging these gaps.”

The GRESB Real Estate Assessment, which has been running since 2009, now covers more than 1,000 property companies and funds and more than 100,000 real estate assets.

The private dataset covers 757 entities, representing 75 of IPE Real Assets’ Top 100 Real Estate Investment Managers (participating with at least one fund).

Globally, the average GRESB Score increased from 68 in 2018 to 72 in 2019, which GRESB said demonstrated strong improvements in overall sustainability performance.

Listed property companies still outperform the private sector, but the gap is now negligible compared to previous years, GRESB said, while the gap between average scores for offices and other property types is also closing.

The regional breakdown of GRESB scores show that real estate companies and funds in Oceania continue to lead the world in sustainability performance, a position the region has held for nine years in a row.

“Even in the face of present challenges, we remain optimistic because of the breadth and depth of the sustainability ecosystem that has grown up since the inaugural Real Estate Assessment in 2009,” said Roxana Isaiu, director of real estate at GRESB.