Global property sector cuts energy, water and carbon

The world’s commercial property industry cut its energy consumption by nearly 1%, its water use by just over 2% and its carbon emissions by 0.3% last year. Not impressed? Well I am.

Firstly, the fact that the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) can now gather data from more than 600 of the world’s listed property companies and private equity real estate funds, which together account for 56,000 buildings, is an achievement in itself. Property companies and funds are now buying into sustainability, measuring consumption consistently and subjecting data to the scrutiny of validation. GRESB found 22% of participants had got green building certificates at the time of project construction and 14% had secured certification for operational buildings.

Secondly, a reduction in consumption is to be welcomed. Crucially, there are also indications that sustainability is being embedded into business practice to continue to deliver savings.

Examples of good practice include:

  • 75% include sustainability factors in the annual performance targets of their staff
  • 35% of participants have projects that are designed to generate energy from on-site renewable sources
  • 61% perform technical building assessments to identify energy efficiency opportunities within their portfolio
  • 78% have implemented measures to improve the energy efficiency of their portfolio – with the most common measures being upgrades and replacements of lighting and HVAC systems
  • Where green building certification is obtained, 47% of participants use LEED and 23% use BREEAM
  • 75% implement measures specifically focused on occupant wellbeing.

The property benchmarked spans the range of non-domestic uses but hotels and healthcare buildings, both big consumers of energy and water, each account for only 1% of building types surveyed. The report also highlights the fact that for hotels and high street retailers, data availability is relatively low. GRESB still has much to do.

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