Sustainability Advisor Sees Consolidation of Standards in Next Few Years

Sunny Misser, CEO of AccountAbility, joined REIT.com for a video interview at NAREIT’s 2016 Leader in the Light Working Forum at the Ritz Carlton – Coconut Grove in Miami.

AccountAbility is a global research standards and advisory services organization that focuses exclusively on sustainability.

Misser noted that one of the dominant trends he is seeing within sustainability today is the issue of reporting and disclosure.

“The statistics are very telling,” Misser said. He noted that more than 93 percent of the Global Fortune 250 companies report on sustainability matters, and just over 50 percent of Fortune 1000 companies report on sustainability issues in their annual report.

Turning specifically to real estate, Misser said sustainability reporting is largely a standard global practice at this time.

A second dominant trend in sustainability today involves the proliferation of standards, Misser said.

“There’s a glut of standards and most of our clients are struggling to navigate around that,” according to Misser.

Within the next three to five years, Misser said he expects to see both a consolidation of standards into a handful of broad-based platforms, as well as industry-specific guidance.

A third major trend is mainstreaming, or the concept that broad-based sustainability measures and metrics are becoming more integrated into business operations and processes, Misser observed.

Meanwhile, Misser highlighted that all of the various sustainability standards are based on voluntary disclosures.

“As I see it, there are two sides to the coin. One side is about standards -- the principles, objectives and metrics -- but the other side of the coin is enforcement,” he said. Standards will stick if there is an enforcement mechanism and there are consequences of non-compliance, Misser added.

And while he does not advocate either for or against an enforcement mechanism, Misser stresses that it is “the other side of the coin that is necessary to maintain balance and ensure things move forward.”