GRESB: European real estate moves 'beyond compliance' on ESG

The European real estate sector reduced carbon emissions by 3.1% in 2017, more than the global average, according to GRESB.

The organisation said the 2017 data showed tangible improvements in the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of property companies and real estate funds.

Highlights from the global data included a 1.1% reduction in like-for-like energy consumption, a 2.2% reduction in carbon emissions, and a 0.5% reduction in like-for-like water consumption. The latter was equivalent to 999 Olympic swimming pools, it noted.

The European real estate sector was ahead of the global average for reducing carbon emissions, said GRESB. The sector’s contribution to global warming targets agreed at the December 2015 UN conference in Paris was larger than the 2.2% reduction achieved by participants in the GRESB assessment globally.

The assessment covered 850 property companies and real estate funds, representing 77,000 assets and more than $3.7trn (€3.1trn) in value. This was the eighth consecutive increase in the number of participants and assets.

The global average GRESB score was up by 3 points from 2016 to 63 for this year.

Listed property companies again outperformed private entities, and entities focused on offices scored better than other types.

Roxana Isaiu, director, ESG and real estate at GRESB, said: “In 2017, we observe that many European property companies and funds have moved beyond compliance with investor demands.

“They recognise the impact that can be achieved by a symbiotic approach to internal and external communication, real estate and corporate health and wellbeing, and a good understanding of the opportunities for increased efficiency.

“Even a small percentage reduction in a large portfolio can have a significant impact on the bottom line.” 

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