EUROPE - Global reporting standards on real estate sustainability are achievable in two years, delegates were told at the British Property Federation's first ever international sustainability session at last week's MIPIM convention in Cannes.

BPF chief executive Liz Peace said establishing national reporting standards on sustainability in real estate was not ambitious enough and revealed the Global Reporting Initiative will be developing reporting standards on a "global basis".

The revelations came a day after a private meeting between some of the world's real industry leaders at Mipim, to discuss developing a global index for green buildings. According to the BPF, property chiefs from 20 countries, including Japan, USA, Germany, Italy, Finland, Sweden and Denmark, were in agreement over the need for a clear global reporting standard on sustainability to enable genuine comparison, measurement and benchmarking.

"A year ago we were persuading people to do something about sustainability. Today we are past this now," Peace said. "We have moved on".

She admitted prior to the international meeting "national coherence" on sustainability was her immediate ambition, but now she believes this is too "modest".

According to Peace, GRI has agreed to integrate real estate into its current global sustainability reporting framework for companies by consulting the industry, carrying out workshops and establishing trials in different countries.

Also speaking at the event was Peter Verwer, chief executive of the Property Council of Australia, who explained all new buildings in Australia will from now on be built according to the country's "Green Star" sustainability performance measurement system.

Verwer said "the focus has moved from new stock" to the issue of retro-fitting or "retro-greening" existing real estate in Australia. His hope is that rather than investing in portfolios of high performing buildings, institutional investors will actively seek out environmentally inefficient ones and bring them up to standard.

Verwer claimed occupiers will not necessarily want to pay more for the best performing buildings, but the worst performing properties will eventually become obsolete and lose value.

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