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New data shows European real estate sector reducing carbon emissions by 3.1% in 2017

by Andrea Waitrovich

GRESB, the global ESG benchmark for real assets, released the aggregate results of the 2017 GRESB Real Estate Assessment. A record 850 property companies and real estate funds completed the Assessment, representing 77,000 assets and more than $3.7 trillion in value.

“We are delighted to see an increase in the number of participants and assets across all regions for eight consecutive years,” said Sander Paul van Tongeren, co-founder and managing director at GRESB. “It’s encouraging that, once again, GRESB participants were able to lower energy, water and carbon emissions.”

Globally, the average GRESB Score increased to 63 points, up 3 from 2016. With an average GRESB score of 66, listed property companies continue to outperform private entities, and entities focused on offices outperform other types, scoring on average 64 points.

The new GRESB data shows tangible improvements in ESG performance. Globally in 2017 the sector:

  • Reduced like-for-like energy consumption by 1.1 percent — equivalent to 79,827 U.S. homes,
  • Reduced like-for-like carbon emissions by 2.2 percent — equivalent to 113,000 passenger cars,
  • Reduced like-for-like water consumption by 0.5 percent — equivalent to 999 Olympic swimming pools, and
  • Diverted 52.9 percent of landfill waste — equivalent to 399,008 truckloads.

The results show that the energy improvements made in recent years by the global real estate sector are in line with the energy reductions targets as set out in the United Nations-supported Sustainable Development Goals.

Approximately 433 European companies and funds reported on their ESG performance representing $804 billion in assets under management. This represents an 11 percent increase in participants from 2016. Europe saw the highest increase in entities completing the voluntary Health & Well-being Module.

With companies and funds diverting 74.3 percent of landfill waste, Europe maintains its position ahead of other regions. Similarly, with a 3.1 percent reduction in like-for-like carbon emissions, Europe’s contribution to COP21 targets is larger than the 2.2 percent reduction achieved by GRESB participants globally.

“In 2017, we observe that many European property companies and funds have moved beyond compliance with investor demands,” said Roxana Isaiu, director, ESG & real estate. “They recognize the impact that can be achieved by a symbiotic approach to internal and external communication, real estate and corporate health and well-being, 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. The good news is that property managers have access to more tools and data than ever to make well-informed decisions.”

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