Listed property companies have outperformed their non-listed counterparts on sustainability, according to a global study.

Results from the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) show overall improvements in performance and reporting among 637, mainly European, participants.

Greater transparency in the listed sector, said GRESB executive director Nils Kok, saw it outperform private companies.

Listed property companies scored on average seven points more than private funds. With the overall GRESB score improving by nine points to 47, listed companies scored 52.

“We see a marked difference between results for private and public,” Kok said. “The infinite life of listed companies means they are consistently transparent – they continue to report and they continue to exist.”

GRESB said the commercial real estate sector reduced its energy consumption last year by about 0.8%. Carbon emissions and water consumption dropped 0.3% and 2.3% respectively.

“The real estate sector is starting to implement sustainability plans and measure energy and water waste,” Kok said. “That’s reflected in a move towards more implementation and measurement of their respective policies.”

Bentall Kennedy’s diversified strategy in North America saw it picked as one of a number of global leaders. Invesco Real Estate’s San Jacinto core residential fund in North America was also selected. Europe’s Steen & Strom also scored highly for retail, as did Legal & General’s UK Property Income Fund for a diversified strategy.

Regionally, property companies and funds in Asia made the biggest improvement in reporting, up 23% to 46 points. Australia and New Zealand, meanwhile, remained top for overall sustainability performance, scoring 61. North America and Europe scored 44 and 47 respectively.

“Asia is no longer the laggard of the pack and we see strong development there,” Kok said.

GRESB said, the benchmark, now in its fifth year, has become standard practice for “most of the world’s fund managers and listed property companies”, with a 220% increase in response rates since 2009.