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ESG, GRESB & Reporting: Unpacking Critical Information for CRE Owners and Operators

Posted on February 16, 2022

Paul Bergeron
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Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) is coming at us like a tsunami, according to the top economist at a leading U.S. real estate investment services firm who spoke at a real estate industry conference in January. 

If you thought 2020 and 2021 were critical years for ESG in real estate, 2022 will be the year where it truly gets amplified.

Investors continue to be prompted to evaluate and adopt a more strategic approach to sustainability, propelled by a global pandemic, climate-related disruptions, social change, and good business sense.

CRE operators and finance executive panelists shared these comments:

  • “It’s not becoming crucial; it is crucial. It’s table stakes.”
  • “It’s not just a “‘Europe thing’; it’s evident across the U.S.”
  • “It’s baked into EVERYTHING, including risk assessments and the underwriting process.”
  • “Investors’ questions about ESG are becoming deeper and more thoughtful.”

Grace Hill constantly receives calls and inquiries from existing and prospective clients interested in surveying tenants, residents, and/or employees as part of their ESG initiatives and goals or to meet their GRESB reporting requirements.

Still, others have simply been reaching out with curiosity because their ESG consultants strongly encouraged them to survey their tenants and employees.

Grace Hill recently hosted a webinar, “ESG, GRESB & Reporting: Unpacking Critical Information for CRE Owners and Operators,” where it took a deeper look at the impact and evolution of ESG, GRESB, and reporting with experts Brenna S. Walraven, an internationally recognized leader in commercial real estate and sustainability, and John Falco, real estate thought leader with 30+ years of experience in the office, industrial, retail, and residential sectors.

“Some real estate leaders have a clear understanding of what they need to do and why, but others seem less informed,” Falco said. “This webinar helped answer a lot of the questions and clear up some confusion and uncertainty around ESG generally, as well as about GRESB and other similar organizations and vital benchmarking efforts.”

During this informational webinar, owners and operators learned:

  • Of the changing marketplace and context for growing interest in and focus on ESG.
  • Better definitions of ESG terms and acronyms – GRESB, ESG+R, SASB, CDP, TCFD, SBTi, etc.
  • Components of an effective ESG strategy.
    • Engagement is key
    • Data matters
    • Benchmarking performance
  • Benefits of GRESB participation.
  • Engagement pathways.
    • Where do surveys fit?
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