09/05/2014 | by
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The Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) 2014 Survey results released Sept. 4 point to strong improvement in the sustainability performance of the global real estate industry as a whole, according to GRESB.

The survey looked at data from listed property companies and private equity real estate funds around the world. In total, the respondents’ portfolios cover 56,000 buildings with an aggregate value of $ 2.1 trillion.

Results from the 2014 survey indicated that in the last year, the commercial real estate industry cut energy consumption by nearly 1 percent. Additionally, water consumption fell by 2.3 percent. Carbon emissions were cut 0.3 percent for the year. GRESB said the results show “significant improvement” of participants’ individual scores. GRESB noted that organizations appear to be more aware of the importance of implementing policies and of proper monitoring and reporting on metrics.

“The need for reliable, investment grade data continues to increase with the advent of capital market interest in the topic of energy efficiency and sustainability in real estate,” said Nils Kok, executive director of GRESB, an industry-driven organization that assesses the sustainability performance of real estate portfolios around the globe.

U.S. REITs Recognized

GRESB recognized a number of U.S. REITs for their exceptional sustainability practices. In the hotel and healthcare sectors, Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: HST), Ventas, Inc. (NYSE: VTR) and HCP, Inc. (NYSE: HCP) were named global sector leaders. These include property sectors with too few participants to be broken down by region.

“HCP is committed to sustainability, and receiving this prestigious award for the third consecutive year would not be possible without great team work and the support of our senior leadership,” said Tom Klaritch, HCP’s executive vice president for medical office buildings and chair of the firm’s sustainability committee.

A number of U.S. REITs were also named as sector leaders for the North America region, including General Growth Properties, Inc. (NYSE: GGP), Kilroy Realty Corp. (NYSE: KRC), Prologis, Inc. (NYSE: PLD), Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR) and Inland Real Estate Investment Corp.

John Kilroy, Jr., chairman, president and CEO of Kilroy Realty, said the designation “demonstrates to our investors and tenants that our sustainability program is best-in-class.”

Sheldon Groner, NAREIT executive vice president for finance and operations, noted that U.S. REITs are increasingly participating in a variety of sustainability initiatives, “which positively impact both their day-to-day business operations and their stakeholders.” NAREIT is a partner with GRESB.

Geographically, property companies and funds in the Australia/New Zealand region showed the strongest sustainability results as measured by GRESB, with an overall GRESB score of 61. Europe took second place with a score of 47, followed by Asia with a score of 46. North America ranked in fourth place with a score of 44, although this was an improvement on the previous year’s score of 39.

Kok at GRESB noted that North American companies and funds performed strongly in terms of staying abreast of sustainability-related risks at the organization and portfolio level. The region’s companies and funds also performed well with regard to monitoring the use of green building certification and energy ratings in their portfolios, Kok added.