Prupim is to work with major providers on a short-form sustainability metric following the industry's failure to come up with one investors understand, the fund manager said this week.

In a review of its portfolio's green credentials, the UK-based firm cited a "myriad of metrics and measures" of sustainability that had served to only confuse investors.

The real estate manager intends to work in the coming months with Investment Property Databank (IPD) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) on a set of short-form metrics. However, a spokesman for Prupim was unable to confirm whether discussions were already underway on the plan, citing disclosure issues.

Paul McNamara, director and head of research at Prupim has long been a critic of what he sees as overly complex metrics. He told IP Real Estate last year that providers - despite demanding "a colossal amount" of data from - had not come up with sufficient criteria to make the data comparable across portfolios.

Although the fund manager cited "good progress" across its own portfolio in its report this week, sustainability director Nina Jackson noted a lack of consensus on how sustainability is measured, reported and valued remained the biggest obstacle to future progress. Among its reporting targets for the 2010-11 period, Prupim included a reduction in carbon emissions and water consumption at its shopping centres, and an increase in recycling rates.

Meanwhile, German real estate fund manager Union Investment claimed that only 20% of European property investors were satisfied that sustainability evaluation criteria in their respective countries were clear enough to provide credible metrics.

Union's survey of 167 property investors - including pension funds - in Germany, France and the UK found significant changes from last year in the criteria investors used to evaluate sustainability.

According to the poll, 67% of investors (80% in Germany) are focusing on lifecycle costs - the second most important indicator in this year's report after primary energy usage.
Just 47% of investors cited carbon footprint, compared with 62% for waste, 55% for water footprint, and 43% for shared renewable energy resources.

Despite 60% of the investors polled claiming they would invest "significantly more" in sustainability in future, 74% of them are still measuring sustainability on a per-asset basis, with just 25% employing a portfolio-wide approach.