Investors are increasingly evaluating companies based on specific ESG-related criteria and the subset focused on “responsible investments” continues to grow.

For real estate owners and operators, environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and responsible governance practices are important components of doing business. Real estate houses the economy and is the very foundation of society. Real estate is not just the physical places where we live, work, and spend our leisure time; it helps unite and define local communities and provides an important investment resource to millions of Americans.

Since they were created in 1960, REITs have established a track record of environmental stewardship, value creation at the community level, good governance, and transparency and accountability through public disclosure. REITs have proven to be both sustainable investments and investments in a sustainable future. And, as responsible actors and owners, REITs help steer ESG performance within the real estate industry as a whole.

ESG best practices are not just good for the planet and its inhabitants but are also good business. Lowering energy and water use, investing in one’s workforce and strengthening internal governance mechanisms are just a few of the many ways REITs contribute to bottom-line performance. And more often than not, these kinds of practices support further investment, brand loyalty, and talent and tenant attraction and retention.

What are ESG criteria?

Environmental, social, and governance criteria are sets of widely recognized topic areas and metrics used to manage, monitor, and report on an organization’s sustainability performance.

Environmental refers to an organization’s processes, policies, practices, and impact related to the natural environment. Learn more about environmental stewardship.

Social refers to an organization’s processes, policies, practices, and impact with regard to the people – both internal and external – with whom it interacts. Learn more about the social impact.

Governance refers to an organization’s processes, policies, practices, and impact with regard to its organizational design, transparency measures, policies, protocols and procedures, and formalized governing bodies, roles and responsibilities. Learn more about governance.

How does Nareit support industry ESG efforts?

Nareit seeks to actively encourage the development and adoption of effective environmental, social, and governance practices in real estate through its ESG knowledge-sharing and capacity-building initiatives.

Real Estate Sustainability Council

Nareit’s Real Estate Sustainability Council (RESC) consists of Nareit corporate member sustainability thought leaders—representing all REIT sectors—with a mission to help shape and lead the REIT industry on ESG issues.
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Dividends Through Diversity & Inclusion

Nareit’s Dividends Through Diversity & Inclusion Initiative promotes the recruitment, inclusion, and advancement of women and other diverse groups in REITs and the wider commercial real estate industry. As part of this effort, the Initiative facilitates education and career development opportunities and promotes engagement programs for women and other diverse groups in the REIT and commercial real estate industries.
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REIT ESG Dashboard

With the goal of communicating the U.S. REIT industry’s ESG impact and progress, Nareit maintains the ESG Dashboard on The ESG Dashboard, developed in partnership with GeoPhy and updated annually, identifies and tracks company reporting of ESG key performance indicators (KPIs) for the U.S. REIT industry.
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Nareit ESG Forum

Nareit's annual ESG Forum is a hands-on collaborative workshop that provides Nareit corporate members the opportunity to advance the sustainability conversation and to better understand leading sustainability practices among their peers.
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Leader in the Light Awards

Nareit’s annual Leader in the Light Awards honor Nareit member companies that have produced superior, measurable results from the implementation of sustainable business practices.
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Nareit Guide to ESG Reporting Frameworks

The Nareit Guide to ESG Reporting Frameworks helps Nareit members better understand and navigate the array of environmental, social and governance reporting frameworks. The inaugural guide, developed with assistance from AccountAbility, was released in 2019 and is available in a downloadable PDF.

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