The real estate sector worldwide improved its sustainability performance in 2017, according to GRESB, a firm that gauges the ESG performance of real assets.
For North America, the average GRESB score for 2017 rose to 64, from 59 in 2016, the Amsterdam-based GRESB reports. Scores were based on input from 204 firms, with total assets under management of $2.3 trillion. The region performed better than the global average, and also saw the best annual improvement of all regions.
In North America, property companies cut down their energy consumption by 2.5%, carbon emissions by 2.9%, and water use by 1.3%.
The sector’s average global GRESB score for 2017 was up three points to 63, from 2016’s 60. Publicly traded firms continued to do better than private entities, and the office sector did better than other property sectors on sustainability measures. The global survey included 850 real estate-sector participants, with a total of 77,000 assets, representing more than $3.7 trillion in value.
These firms’ efforts to conserve energy are on the path set out in the “Sustainability Development Goals” that the United Nations supports, according to GRESB.
Among the global highlights:
- These firms reduced their “like-for-like” power consumption by 1.1%, equivalent to that consumed by about 80,000 US homes.
- Their “like-for-like” carbon emissions were down 2.2%, equivalent to the emissions of 113,000 cars.
- They cut their water consumption by 0.5%, saving the amount of water that 999 Olympic swimming pools would consume.
- They also diverted the equivalent of 399,008 truckloads of landfill waste.
Sander Paul van Tongeren, co-founder and managing director at GRESB, noted, “We are delighted to see an increase in the number of participants and assets across all regions for eight consecutive years. It’s encouraging that, once again, GRESB participants were able to lower energy, water, and carbon emissions. We hope that the commitment and meaningful actions taken by the 850 GRESB participants serve as an example to others and help to drive improved sustainability performance more broadly across the market.”