Nils Kok, executive director of the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), joined REIT.com for a video interview at NAREIT headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Kok commented on the recent release of the 2014 GRESB Survey results, which pointed to a strong improvement in the sustainability performance of the global real estate industry as a whole.
According to Kok, the biggest change that occurred in 2014 was the increase in the survey’s response rate. In 2014, 637 REITs and private real estate equity funds participated, which was an increase of 17 percent compared with 2013, and an increase of 44 percent compared with 2012.
Other highlights of the 2014 survey included an uptick in the average overall performance score of North American companies to 44 from 39, Kok said.
The survey also demonstrated that REITs strongly outperformed private equity real estate funds when it came to their sustainability initiatives in this year’s benchmark, Kok said: “We’ve seen that over the years, but never as pronounced.” Kok added that the trend is “driven by a more holistic integration of sustainability in the management of REITs. It’s driven by risk assessments, as well as improving the efficiency of the portfolio, and higher reporting standards.”
Meanwhile, Kok observed that there has been a “slow but steady uptake” of GRESB sustainability data by large institutional investors. “We’ve seen that large REIT investors, pension funds and advisors, have started to look at sustainability information and have started to integrate this data into their decision making,” he said.
“There’s no explosive growth in the number of investors using the information, but there is an increasing awareness that this is relevant information, that resilience, energy efficiency, sustainability and how you deal with tenants is going to have an impact on the bottom line,” Kok added.
Information about the 2014 survey can be found on GRESB’s website, www.gresb.com.