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Global real estate cuts environmental footprint, report finds

iStock_blue globe-worldThe global real estate sector is significantly reducing its environmental impact, having decreased energy consumption by 4.8 per cent during 2011-2012 – with the decrease equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 163,000 homes. Over the same period, greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 2.5 per cent, and water consumption decreased by 1.2 per cent.

The figures from a new report also show there are strong regional differences in energy reductions. Despite the continued focus of EU regulators on the built environment, Europe lags behind other regions, with only a small decrease in energy consumption (-0.7 per cent). In North America, reductions in energy consumption are the largest globally, with a decrease of -6.6 per cent in energy consumption (1,235 GWh) and -4.8 per cent for greenhouse gas emissions (317,600 metric tonnes).

A leading global source of comprehensive portfolio level sustainability data for the real estate industry, the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark’s (GRESB) 2013 report, is based on sustainability data gathered from 543 property companies and funds, providing aggregate information on 49,000 properties across the globe.

The report demonstrates a ‘clear and upward’ trend in sustainability performance of the global real estate industry. In 2013, 119 property companies and funds achieved the benchmark’s “Green Star” status, recognition for outstanding management and implementation of key sustainability issues.

Australia continues to demonstrate global leadership in sustainability performance as the top-performing region, whereas performance differences between Asia, Europe, and North America are becoming smaller.

Sustainability is increasingly integrated into day-to-day business decision-making, with over 80 per cent of participants involving senior management in the reviewing and monitoring of sustainability processes. The adoption of risk management strategies related to sustainability is widespread: all participants now perform sustainability risk assessments, both for standing investments and for new acquisitions. This sharply contrasts with results for 2012, when only 60 per cent of participants performed sustainability risk assessments.

GRESB covers 46 countries in six continents. Its collection of comprehensive portfolio level sustainability data represents USD 1.6 trillion of gross asset value.

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