EU lags behind upward trend in the sustainability of global real estate

EU lags behind an upward trend in sustainability of global real estateThere has been a clear and upward trend in the sustainability performance of global real estate, but despite the continued focus of EU regulators on the built environment, Europe lags behind other regions. According to the results of the GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) 2013 Report – based on sustainability data gathered from 543 property companies and funds, providing aggregate information on 49,000 properties across the globe – the real estate sector significantly reduced its environmental impact, decreasing energy consumption by nearly 5 per cent over the 2011-2012 period. Over the same period, greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 2.5 per cent, and water consumption by 1.2 per cent. 

There was only a small decrease in energy consumption of -0.7 per cent in Europe, compared to the largest global reductions in energy consumption in North America, with a decrease of -6.6 per cent in energy consumption and -4.8 percent for greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2013, 119 property companies and funds achieved the “Green Star” status, recognition for outstanding management and implementation of key sustainability issues. Australia continues to demonstrate global leadership in sustainability performance as the top-performing region in the GRESB Survey, whereas performance differences between Asia, Europe, and North America are becoming smaller.

Sustainability is increasingly integrated into day-to-day business decision-making, with over 80 per cent of participants involving senior management in the reviewing and monitoring of sustainability processes. The adoption of risk management strategies related to sustainability is widespread: all participants now perform sustainability risk assessments, both for standing investments and for new acquisitions. This sharply contrasts with results for 2012, when only 60 per cent of participants performed sustainability risk assessments.

GRESB also reports that the number of companies and funds disclosing information on sustainability performance has increased by nearly a quarter as compared to 2012. Much of this increase can be attributed to Asia and the United States. GRESB now covers 46 countries in six continents and is the leading and largest source of comprehensive portfolio level sustainability data, representing USD 1.6 trillion of gross asset value.