EUROPE - UBS Global Asset Management's real estate business will target tenants with corporate responsibility programmes in a bid to create a "joined up approach" to sustainability.

As it published its first sustainability report this week, the asset manager conceded that efforts to engage tenants in its sustainability efforts so far had proved unsuccessful.

David Hirst, head of real estate operations, said: "As a landlord, you only have a certain amount of control over energy usage, for example, so you need to have a conversation with tenants.

"We're taking a different approach - showing them how to lower the costs of occupancy."

"A lot of this is uncharted territory. We have to get alignment, long term, with tenants willing to fund sustainable measures." 

However, Hirst acknowledged that some tenants, especially those on short leases, were unlikely to be won over to an investment in more sustainable buildings.

The sustainability programme launched last year measures asset and portfolio-level performance.

"Portfolio-level benchmarks are more about the activities of the fund manager," Hirst said. "These are high-level managerial questions, but it's difficult to plot a strategy without knowing what your assets are doing."

Although UBS recently signed up to the GRESB benchmark, Hirst said the questions asked of fund managers would have to be tweaked to create a credible industry-wide benchmark.

"We aren't there yet," he said. "It's difficult to provide the right questions for a global survey. I have some sympathy with their plight."

In separate news, SWIP is urging the energy companies it holds to manage fugitive methane emissions as part of an awareness-raising campaign over the climate change risks associated with shale gas.

In a new report, the fund manager points out that, while the switch from coal to gas has significantly reduced UK carbon emissions, fugitive methane could mitigate the positive impact.