Mission-driven and investor-led, GRESB is the environmental, social and governance (ESG) benchmark for real assets. We work in collaboration with the industry to provide standardized and validated ESG data to the capital markets. The 2019 real estate benchmark covers more than 1,000 property companies, real estate investment trusts (REITs), funds, and developers. Our coverage for infrastructure includes 500 infrastructure funds and assets. Combined, GRESB represents USD 4.5 trillion in real asset value. More than 100 institutional investors, with over USD 22 trillion AUM, use GRESB data to monitor their investments, engage with their managers, and make decisions that lead to a more sustainable real asset industry.
Overview of GRESB Assessments
GRESB Real Estate Assessment
The GRESB Real Estate Assessment is the global standard for ESG benchmarking and reporting for listed property companies, private property funds, developers and investors that invest directly in real estate. The Assessment evaluates performance against three ESG Components - Management, Performance, and Development. The methodology is consistent across different regions, investment vehicles and property types and aligns with international reporting frameworks, such as GRI and PRI.
The GRESB Real Estate Assessment provides investors with actionable information and tools to monitor and manage the ESG risks and opportunities of their investments, and to prepare for increasingly rigorous ESG obligations. Assessment participants receive comparative business intelligence on where they stand against their peers, a roadmap with the actions they can take to improve their ESG performance and a communication platform to engage with investors.
(Real Estate) Supplement: Nareit Leader in the Light
GRESB works in close collaboration with the National Association of Real Estate Investments Trusts (Nareit), a GRESB Industry Partner. NAREIT encourages its corporate members to complete the annual GRESB Real Estate Assessments, which, for the past seven years, has been the basis for their annual Leader in the Light Award competition. The Leader in the Light Awards are presented to REITs in eight property sectors: Diversified, Global (for non-U.S. companies), Health Care, Industrial, Lodging/Resorts, Office, Residential and Retail. If there are both large and small cap entries that meet the awards criteria in a given property sector, awards are presented to both the leading large and small cap companies. To participate in the Leader in the Light Award program, Nareit members must complete both the GRESB Real Estate Assessment and the Leader in the Light Supplement. Once all sections of the GRESB Real Estate Assessment are completed, including the Leader in the Light Supplement, participants are able to submit their entire submission which will automatically be included in the Leader in the Light Award competition.
GRESB Infrastructure Assessment
The GRESB Infrastructure Assessments are an ESG engagement and benchmarking tool for institutional investors, fund managers, infrastructure companies and asset operators working in the infrastructure space. There are two complimentary GRESB Infrastructure Assessments: a Fund Assessment and an Asset Assessment. Both address critical aspects of ESG performance through a globally applicable and standardized reporting and benchmarking framework. The Fund Assessment is intended for infrastructure funds and portfolios of assets, while the Asset Assessment is meant to be completed by the individual underlying assets (portfolio companies). Both Assessments cover the full breadth of infrastructure sectors, including:
- Data infrastructure
- Energy and water resources
- Environmental services
- Network utilities
- Power generation x‑renewables
- Renewable power
- Social infrastructure
The GRESB Infrastructure Assessment provides investors with actionable information and tools to monitor and manage the ESG risks and opportunities of their investments, and to prepare for increasingly rigorous ESG obligations. In turn, GRESB Infrastructure Assessment participants receive comparative business intelligence on where they stand against their peers, a roadmap with actions they can take to improve their ESG performance and a communication platform to engage with investors.
GRESB (Real Estate and Infrastructure) Public Disclosure
GRESB Public Disclosure evaluates the level of ESG disclosure by listed property companies and investment vehicles for an entire investable universe. The evaluation is based on a set of indicators aligned with the GRESB Real Estate and Infrastructure Assessments. It provides investors with a resource hub to access ESG disclosure documents across their full listed investment portfolio and make comparisons against an investable universe with full coverage.
GRESB Public Disclosure data is initially collected by the GRESB team for selected companies, including both 2019 GRESB Real Estate and Infrastructure Asset Assessment participants and non‑participants. All data collected must come from publicly available sources, private documents are not accepted.
All constituents have the opportunity to review and update the data collected prior to it becoming accessible to GRESB Listed Investor Members. GRESB Public Disclosure consists of four Aspects: Governance of Sustainability, Implementation, Operational Performance and Stakeholder Engagement. Together, these Aspects contribute towards a Public Disclosure Level, expressed through an A to E sliding scale.
(Real Estate and Infrastructure) Supplement: Resilience
The GRESB Resilience Module is an optional supplement to the GRESB Real Estate and Infrastructure Assessments. The Resilience Module evaluates how real estate and infrastructure companies and funds are identifying and assessing long-term trends, preparing for potentially disruptive events and changing conditions, and ultimately becoming more resilient over time. The Module provides companies and funds with the opportunity to communicate their governance, risk assessment, business strategy, and performance measurement for climate-related risks and opportunities.
The Module has two primary goals:
- Meet investor demand for information about the resilience of property and infrastructure companies and funds; and
- Provide more information about the processes that property and infrastructure companies use to identify, assess, and manage climate-related risks.
The Resilience Module was designed to align with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). While it is not meant to, by itself, constitute a complete climate-related risk disclosure in accordance with the TCFD, it nonetheless provides a strong basis for one in the context of real estate and infrastructure fund management. Additionally, while the Resilience Module aligns with the TCFD, it takes a broader perspective than the TCFD by providing indicators related to social risks caused or exacerbated by transition or physical climate-related risk factors.
2020 Assessments Structure
An important outcome of the 2020 Assessment development process has been a reconfirmation that the Assessments address material ESG topics for the real estate and infrastructure industry. As a result, the 2020 development process was limited to making structural changes to the Assessments rather than introducing new indicators or making extensive content changes with an impact on scoring.
The structural changes arise from the introduction of the separate Management, Performance and Development Components. On the content side, the number of indicators in the Assessments has been reduced and several indicators have been simplified. This is particularly apparent in the Performance Component, where the introduction of asset level reporting has allowed the removal of several indicators measuring data availability and coverage.
With the introduction of the GRESB Development Benchmark, participants with development activities will have a better understanding of their ESG performance and how this compares to their peers. Previously, this benchmark only included developers, but now managers with both standing investments and development projects will be included in both the GRESB Development Benchmark and GRESB Real Estate Benchmark and will receive two Benchmark Reports to reflect their performance in each category.
Overall, the 2020 Assessments provide more consistency between real estate and infrastructure and an improved alignment with other responding standards and frameworks. The Assessments also lay the groundwork for us to provide new data and analytical tools in the portal and support a further evolution in data quality.
The starting point for the Assessment development process was the 2019 Assessments. The 2019 indicators have been allocated to the new Management, Performance and Development components, on the basis that:
- The Management Component measures the entity’s strategy and leadership management, policies and processes, risk management, and stakeholder engagement approach, composing of information collected at the entity level.
- The Performance Component measures the entity’s asset portfolio performance, composing of information collected at the asset portfolio level. It is suitable for any real estate company or fund with operational assets.
- The Development Component measures the entity’s efforts to address ESG-issues during the design, construction, and renovation of buildings. This component is suitable for entities involved in new construction (building design, site selection and/or construction) and/or major renovation projects, with on-going projects or completed projects during the reporting year.
For more information about the 2020 Assessments development process, click here.
The role of the GRESB benchmark
GRESB’s global benchmark uses a consistent methodology to compare performance across different regions, investment vehicles, and property types. This consistency, combined with our broad market coverage, means our members and participants can apply a single, globally recognized ESG framework to all their real estate investments.
GRESB results provide a practical way to understand ESG performance and communicate it to investors and other stakeholders. GRESB provides overall scores of ESG performance - such as the GRESB Score and GRESB Ratings - as well as detailed aspect-level and individual indicator-level assessments of performance. The key to analyzing GRESB data is in peer group comparisons that take into account country, regional, sectoral and investment type variations. This richer analysis enables fund managers and companies to understand their results in the context of their investment strategies and communicate this to their investors.
GRESB is committed to facilitating the use of its ESG metrics in investment decision-making processes and encouraging an active dialogue between investors, fund managers and companies on ESG issues. GRESB updates its Investor Member Guidance on an annual basis to assist GRESB Investor Members in their engagement with managers.
2020 Participation Fee
The Assessment participation fee applies to all GRESB Assessments. Participants are able to complete only one component (Management, Performance, or Development), where the standard participation fee will be applied regardless of the number of submitted components.
Entities can participate in the GRESB Assessments for their first year for free. The entity will be benchmarked and receive a free Scorecard. They will have the option of purchasing a Benchmark Report.
Entities headquartered in non-OECD countries can participate in the GRESB Assessments for free. The entity will be benchmarked and receive a free Scorecard with their GRESB Score. They will have the option of purchasing a Benchmark Report.
Other products and services (e.g. Response Checks, Customized Benchmark Reports, training seats, etc.) are no longer bundled with the Assessment participation fee. This allows participants to select only those products and services they require.
Additional information about the 2020 participation fee is available here.
Timeline and Process
The Assessment Portal opens on April 1, 2020. The submission deadline is July 1, 2020 (23:59:59 PST), providing participants with a three-month window to complete the Assessment. This is a fixed deadline, and GRESB will not accept submissions received after this date. GRESB validates and analyzes all participants’ Assessment submissions.
In 2020 GRESB introduces a new Review Period in the Assessment Cycle to further strengthen the reliability of the Assessments and benchmark results. The Review Period will start on September 1, when preliminary individual GRESB results will be made available to all participants and run for the month. During the Review Period, participants will be able to submit a review request to GRESB using a dedicated form (see Appendix 4b). The final results will be launched to both participants and Investor Members on October 1. Public Results events and other results outputs will be rescheduled to October and November in order to accommodate the September Review Period.
For more information on the Review Period see Appendix 4a.
For more information about the 2020 Assessment timeline, click here.
A Response Check is a high-level check of a participant’s submission. The Response Check is carried out by the GBCI Validation team and features a careful review of your Assessment response followed by a 1-hour discussion call. It can be particularly useful for first time participants.
The Response Check does not exclude the participant from any element of the validation process, nor does it guarantee a better GRESB score. It is intended to ensure that no important details have been overlooked in the submission and provides the opportunity to ask for additional guidance and clarification on the GRESB Assessment indicators. The Response Check helps reduce errors that may adversely impact Assessment results and identifies inconsistent responses and incorrect answer formats.
The Response Check fee is 1,750 EUR (exclusive of VAT). The Response Check is available for request from April 1 to June 1, 2020 (11:59:59 p.m., PST) subject to resources availability. We strongly encourage participants to place their request as early as possible. The Response Check can be requested before the Assessment has been completed, but the scope of the review will be limited the information filled in at the time of the request.
Guidance & Support
The Assessment Portal includes indicator-specific guidance, available under the “Guidance” tab that explains:
- The intent of each indicator;
- The requirements for each response;
- The type of validation that applies;
- Basic scoring information and the number of points available;
- Explanation of any terminology used;
- References to any third-party documents.
In addition to the guidance in the Portal, each Assessment is accompanied by a Reference Guide. The Reference Guide provides introductory information on the Assessments and a report-format version of the indicator-by-indicator guidance that is available under the Guidance tab in the Portal.
The GRESB Assessment Portal has the following tools and functionality to help ensure an efficient and accurate submission:
- The document section provides an overview of documents submitted as evidence.
- The Portal allows participants to upload multiple documents as evidence per indicator, eliminating the need to merge different documentation into one file.
- Participants can manage access rights, adding users with different levels of access.
- The Portal has real-time error detection systems and warnings.
- Automated data uploads are available through API connections.
- The Template Tool enables participants to copy information across multiple submissions.
GRESB works with a select group of Partners who can help participants with their Assessment submission. To learn more about the services offered by GRESB Partners, take a look at our Partner Directory.
Participants are able to contact the GRESB Helpdesk at any time for support and guidance.
GRESB Assessment Training Program
GRESB Real Estate Assessment Training is designed to help participants, potential participants and other GRESB stakeholders (managers, consultants, data partners) improve their ESG reporting through the GRESB Real Estate Assessment.
GRESB has launched a free online training platform in 2020. The training courses are modular and self-paced, walking participants through the various aspects of the Assessments, summarizing changes in 2020 compared to last year, and providing detailed examples and tips for a successful submission. .
Access to Data
Data is submitted to GRESB through a secure online platform and can only be seen by current GRESB Staff or authorized personnel from GRESB’s parent company, i.e, GBCI, Inc. (“GBCI”). GRESB benchmark scores are not made public.
Access to Assessment results:
Data collected through the GRESB Real Estate Assessment is only disclosed to the participants themselves and:
- In the case of non-listed property companies and funds, to GRESB Investor Members that are investors in the company or fund, using GRESB’s Data Access Request Tool in the online GRESB Portal. GRESB Investor Members must request access to a non-listed participant’s benchmark scores, allowing the participant the control to either accept or deny this request;
- In the case of listed real estate companies, to all GRESB Investor Members that invest in listed real estate securities.
No other third parties will see the data. GRESB Investor Members must request access to a participant’s Benchmark results and scores, allowing the participant the control to either accept or deny this request.
Access to uploaded evidence:
Documentation provided as evidence can be made available to GRESB Real Estate Investor Members on a document by document basis. Each uploaded document has a checkbox (with the default set to ‘not available’) which, when selected by the participant, makes this evidence available to all investors with access to that entity. It is not possible to choose a subset of investors which you would like to share the documents for.
GRESB has developed a number of tools to assist participants with the collection and aggregation of asset-level data that is required to complete certain aspects of the Assessment. Property companies and funds are encouraged to use the asset level tools to streamline data flows, and to increase data quality. The asset-level data provided to GRESB is strictly confidential and will only be used for aggregation to portfolio level. No individual asset level information will be disclosed to participants’ investors.
As a default, GRESB does not disclose a participant’s data to other participants. For listed entities, the entity name is disclosed in the Benchmark Report, as well as the entity names of listed peer group constituents. For non-listed entities, only the fund manager’s name is disclosed, as well as the fund manager’s name of private peer group constituents.
Access to peer group results:
GRESB provides an opt-in option that will disclose the entity’s name (public) or fund manager’s name (private), as well as the scores for the different Components, to participants in the peer group that also opted to disclose their name and dimension scores.
Access to asset-level data:
The 2020 Assessment requires participants to report the Energy, GHG, Water, Waste, Building Certifications efficiency measures at the asset level. This asset-level data provided to GRESB is strictly confidential and will only be used to check and validate the aggregated portfolio performance data. It will not be passed on to any external party, be it investors or others, in any way that allows the data to be traced back to the asset, without the explicit consent of the participant.
Asset-level data will be used in an aggregated form, and non-traceable manner, in the following ways:
- to inform the aggregated statistics at a portfolio level used in the Benchmark Report of the participant
- to inform the aggregated comparison group analytics at the asset level to be shared with the participant and
- to inform the development of statistical models to evaluate building performance
The main driver for asset level reporting is to improve investor confidence in data quality. In addition, it enables us to provide participants with additional insights into the impact of their ESG programs, the basis for and paves the way for more tailored assessments in the future.
GRESB is fully compliant with GDPR. You can check the GRESB Privacy Statement here. We also have specific internal policies, such as our Data Breach Policy and our Data Protection Policy, related to GDPR that we cannot share externally for security reasons. Please note that asset level data does not fall under the incidence of GDPR because it does not contain any personal data.
GRESB’s data security measures and systems have been reviewed by an external expert and no issues were flagged. The GRESB website and the GRESB Portal are fully HTTPS/TLS encrypted. GRESB has strict and extensive policies on data security that cannot be shared externally for security reasons. GRESB’s public policies can be accessed here.
First year participants can submit the Assessment without providing GRESB Investor Members with the ability to request access to their results. This is referred to as a “Grace Period”.
First year participants wishing to report under the Grace Period can select the option on an entity-by-entity basis from the settings section in the Assessment Portal. Participants who select the “Grace Period” option can decide to unselect the option following receipt of their results. The Grace Period is not available in the second year of participation, regardless of whether it was used in the first year or not.
The “Grace Period” allows participants a year to familiarize themselves with the GRESB reporting and assessment process. The names of participating entities are still visible during the Grace Period, but GRESB Investor Members will not be able to request to see their results.
Grace Period participants receive a GRESB Scorecard and have the opportunity to purchase a Benchmark Report for a more in-depth analysis of their ESG performance.
The following tools help participants with the submission process:
- Template tool: Participants can use the template to store and share question responses that are identical across multiple participating entities. Members can access the sharing template via the GRESB Portal.
- GRESB Evidence Cover page: Participants are recommended to make use of the GRESB Cover Page in order to better structure evidence provided at an indicator level. For indicators that are subject to manual validation, it is highly recommended to identify where each selected issue from an indicator is located in the evidence uploads. For evidence provided in languages other than English, a thorough summary sufficient to convey the requirements have been met is required for validation purposes. Participants may make use of the open text box provided in the cover page to do provide the document summary. In addition, each selected issue must be identified in the evidence uploads by providing page number and exact location such as paragraph, clause, sentence, etc.
- Assessment access tool: A participating property company or fund manager can invite colleagues, advisors and consultants to register in the Portal to assist with the submission of data to GRESB.
- Asset-level data tools: GRESB has developed a number of tools to assist participants with the collection and aggregation of asset-level data that is required to complete indicators from the Performance Component.
The tools are designed to streamline data flows and increase data quality.
- Application Programming Interface (API): This tool is available through an increasing number of data providers. It allows participants to seamlessly feed information from a data provider’s data collection system to the GRESB Portal, automatically completing some of the indicators in the Performance Component. The full list of data partners can be found on our website: Real Estate Data Partners.
- GRESB Asset Spreadsheet: Participants who do not have access to the Automated Data Feed can upload asset data to the GRESB Asset Portal using the Asset Spreadsheet. Please check the Asset Portal Guide for more information.
In 2020, participants can use the online GRESB Asset Portal or a data partner system to upload asset-level data for the following indicators:
- Performance: Reporting characteristics: R1.1 and R1.2
- Performance: Energy (EN1), Performance: GHG Emissions (GH1), Performance: Water (WT1), and Performance: Waste (WS1)
- Performance: Building Certifications BC1.1 and BC1.2
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