Addressing Environmental Risk in Shopping Centres

Environmental impact is not the first thing that comes to mind when we pop down to the local shopping centre. However, going behind the scenes offers a very different viewpoint.

Many impacts need to be considered and managed including energy and water usage, waste management, potential water discharges (think car washes), noise, air conditioning, climate change resilience, flood risk, EPCs and Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) obligations. I could go on and I haven’t even mentioned social, economic or health and wellbeing factors also at play. Left unmanaged, these issues can cause harm to the environment, waste money and even impact on asset values. This blog explores the benefits of implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS) to a shopping centre.

To provide a bit of background, I have worked at EVORA for 18 months now.  My role is varied and late last year I successfully completed my first ISO 14001 EMS implementation project. I thought I had better get my ideas down and quickly.


Proactive

Environmental issues are regularly dealt with on an ad hoc basis. Understanding risks and legal requirements is key in mitigating potential incidents and pollution events – otherwise they may only be identified after an incident has occurred. An EMS provides a proactive approach to managing risks as it provides a mechanism and structure to identify, understand and manage the site-specific issues appropriately.

As an example, a site I visited recently benefited from an interceptor, however, it had not been inspected for several years (due to access issues) and maintenance records did not exist. As a result, if there had been a significant spillage, the interceptor may have failed and resulted in a pollution event occurring in the local environment. An EMS, if implemented and used correctly, identifies risk, potential legal requirements and, in this case, would have ensured a regime of maintenance was implemented and sustained.

It could be argued that such an approach can be developed without an EMS – true – but in this case it was not.  Our project used EMS implementation to address this issue.


Legal Compliance

The environmental regulatory landscape can be a minefield for those unfamiliar with the subject. This can result in difficulties in maintaining legal compliance (you cannot comply with legislation if you don’t know what you have to do). Having worked for EVORA for the past 18 months, I have spent a lot of my time building up an understanding of the nuances and intricacies of environmental legislation.  Spoiler alert – it is never as straightforward as it seems! There are many different areas of environmental legislation applicable to shopping centres (and the wider arena of properties in general).

Examples include:

  • Ensuring that waste is stored correctly and disposed of appropriately, if treated on-site, waste exemptions must be considered
  • Maintaining the availability of accurate waste documentation
  • Ensuring EPCs are in place where applicable and compliant with MEES requirements
  • Arranging boiler servicing and F-gas leak testing to be undertaken in line with defined timescales by appropriately competent people
  • Maintaining the integrity of on-site fuel storage and associated systems such as interceptors
  • Bird control (one of the shopping centres we support has a significant seagull issue!)

An EMS can help ensure legislative requirements are understood and implemented.


 A Structured Approach

At first glance it can be difficult to understand the widespread benefits of an EMS. On my first EMS project I asked the question ‘Why are they were pushing ahead with ISO14001?’

On reflection, I think there are multiple reasons:

  • Structured control of environmental risks
  • Identification of improvement opportunities that reduce operating costs (energy savings)
  • Ability to demonstrate environmental credentials to the outside world.

An EMS provides a defined methodology for risk management. It can be implemented on a single site or across an entire business. Furthermore it can integrate with other systems (think health and safety or quality). The setting of objectives helps to manage risks (i.e. energy use) and improve performance often resulting in reduced costs. Progress is monitored in order to determine if objectives are on course to be achieved. This all drives continual improvement, which in turn ensures shopping centres with effective environmental management systems become more resilient to environmental risk and helps in future proofing the asset.


To Certify or Not to Certify

ISO 14001 is the international standard for environmental management. An EMS can be certified against this standard. This is not essential, however, it can be useful for an external party to certify the EMS as it can provide a fresh pair of eyes and helps to confirm that the system is working effectively. A certified ISO:14001 EMS provides external proof and strengthens reputation, provides good publicity for the business, improves GRESB scoring (where relevant) and is often perceived favourably by tenants.

Environmental Management Systems – Worth Far More than the paper they are written on!

If you want to find out more about Environmental Management Systems and wider sustainability strategies in shopping centres contact EVORA today.

HQE (Haute Qualité Environnementale) certification for buildings in operation: how does it compare on health and wellbeing?

Although many may not be overly familiar with it (in comparison to the likes of BREEAM and LEED), HQE certification has the strongest presence in Europe by area, with buildings totalling approximately 85 million m2 certified at the end of 2017[1].

While HQE was first developed in France, the new international platform Cerway has brought it to an international audience.

Overall, HQE certification presents comparably comprehensive coverage of sustainable construction to BREEAM In-Use and LEED certifications, with a major focus on overall quality and assurance of the result. Additionally, HQE certifications present a non-prescriptive nature, which aims to rely less on application standards and specific thresholds, and rather account for local context and conditions, therefore providing a flexible, yet clear guidance.

HQE’s non-prescriptive focus addresses primarily:
1) Environmental and Energy Performance
2) Health and Comfort

In the first category, attention is focused on sustainable practices and management, with a particular distinction drawn between on the one hand, the intrinsic environmental quality of the asset, and on the other hand, the effectiveness of environmental practices.

The second category focuses upon the assets’ qualities that contribute to the health, comfort and wellbeing of its occupants.


So where does health and welling fit in?

While BREEAM In-Use and LEED allocate substantial coverage to the environmental and energy aspects of a building, their coverage of health and wellbeing is to a lesser extent in comparison to HQE. HQE embraces both equally and provides an approach that aligns with current trends in the real estate sustainability sector. In my opinion, HQE has adopted a proactive approach which has foreseen and been able to react to the increasing need for stronger health and wellbeing monitoring. HQE’s direction aims to ensure that the assets will benefit equally from a reduction in energy consumption, good management of resources and better health and productivity for the occupiers. Hence, it has the potential to deliver long-lasting value for real estate investors and tenants, whilst providing enough flexibility on the “how” to achieve them through its non-prescriptive nature.

EVORA Global HQE image one

GBC, F. (2015). International Environmental Certifications for the Design and Construction of Non-Residential Buildings. Paris: France GBC, p. 4

Approximately 50% of the HQE certification focuses on health and wellbeing, whereas in BREEAM In-Use the scoring is split is 17% in part 1 and 15% for parts 2 and 3, respectively, based on the proportion of the overall available points.
BREEAM’s definition of health and wellbeing encompasses a wider range of aspects (outdoor rest space, active lifestyle options, safety and security); however, the percentage coverage dedicated to health and wellbeing in the BREEAM In-Use certification is smaller than in HQE. LEED puts less emphasis upon health and wellbeing, with a focus on general indoor environmental quality, and a more limited weighting coverage for comfort.

Out of the fourteen categories, the HQE rating system requires an asset to perform highly in at least three categories and achieve a basic level for a maximum of seven categories. Categories are not weighted, as they are considered to be equally important to obtain the certification[2], which further strengthens its duality in its coverage of energy and comfort.


Is HQE for you?

If you wish to challenge your assets with a new certification, HQE offers a balanced assessment of both energy and environmental factors and health and wellbeing features. This being said, certifications are continually evolving to remain relevant. All certifications will likely be aiming to grow their coverage of health and wellbeing factors as the topic begins to become more of a mainstream consideration in real estate sustainability. In my opinion, at some point it will become as equally important to ‘sustainability’ as energy currently is. Additionally, there is a growing realisation that these aspects are heavily interlinked. Working on one aspect will benefit the other, which will help to achieve greater sustainability overall.

All in all, HQE provides a useful, comprehensive and straightforward evaluation of an asset regarding management and performance, with equal attention paid to sustainable construction and, management, comfort and health & wellbeing, which would secure a comprehensive and solid assessment of your assets. Irrespective of whether the certification is being obtained for identifying improvement opportunities, benchmarking between assets, marketing or GRESB, the end output should be a certification which meets your needs and expectations. If those expectations include a good balancing of energy performance and health and wellbeing, then the HQE certification may be more suited to your needs than the more widely known certifications of BREEAM and LEED.

Clearly, if health and wellbeing performance assessment and certification is your primary aim, an entirely wellness focused assessment routine such as the WELL Standard, Fitwel or RESET, will likely be more appropriate.

If you would like to receive more information about which certification would be most relevant to your assets, do not hesitate to get in touch with our consultancy team here at EVORA.


  1. HQE, Ceerway (2017). HQE Certification: Whom for? What for? How?. Paris France, p.6
  2. Bernardi, E., Carlucci, S., Cornaro, C., & Bohne, R. A. (2017). An Analysis of the Most Adopted Rating Systems for Assessing the Environmental Impact of Buildings. Sustainability, p. 10.

Clean Energy for all Europeans Package: future implications for the real estate sector

On the 13th of November the European Parliament adopted new targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy generation as part of its wider package of clean energy initiatives.

The “Clean Energy for all Europeans Package” aims at moving towards a renewable future with reduced dependence on coal, gas and oil. The new agreements adopted this week target a 32.5% energy consumption by 2030, as well as requiring 32% of energy spend be on renewably sourced energy by 2023 within the bloc. Additionally, 14% of fuels utilised in transportation will have to be issued from renewable sources by 2030.

The legislation, divided into three major documents, stipulates that member states will have to roll out specific measures to address disparities in energy production and provision, and make renewable energy available for citizens to produce, purchase and sell.

Each member state will be asked to develop a 10-year national plan addressing energy and climate, detailing objectives, contributions, policies and measures, by the end of 2019. This will then have to be updated each decade.


What does it mean for real estate investors with pan-European portfolios? 

The agreement aims at reducing CO2 emissions, maximising energy efficiency, reducing energy costs for European consumers, and fighting global warming. These are goals that have been growing in prevalence over the past decade and are now at the heart of the EU’s agenda, with this recent legislative development further evidencing its importance to the bloc. With buildings consuming around 40% of the energy used worldwide, real estate is inherently at the heart of this commitment.

Firstly, real estate investors with pan-European portfolios can expect a wave of new incentives and regulations promoting renewable energy over traditional energy sources. The design, extent, and stringency of new legislation could however vary from country to country as each is being allowed to develop its own action plan. Considering renewable energy projects at your assets or switching to green energy contracts, now available from most major suppliers, are great ways to contribute toward these goals and enhance your portfolio’s environmental credentials.

An additional benefit of moving toward renewable energy sources is reduced exposure to the price volatility of traditional energy sources such as coal and oil as a result of geopolitical, legislative and environmental dynamics. Not only is renewable energy better for the planet, it may not be long before it comes at a lower and more stable price.

Real estate investors with pan-European portfolios can expect a wave of new incentives and regulations promoting renewable energy over traditional energy sources

It is unclear as to whether national-level plans will mainly apply to primary energy producers, and the extent to which they will involve public and private bodies. It is likely, however, given the scale of this new European directive, that such national goals will to some degree affect all stakeholders involved in the energy supply chain.

As the real estate sector is at the very core of the fight against climate change and in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, real estate investors may be expected to comply to new emission thresholds, standards and increased transparency, in order to meet new national targets. This will certainly require additional resources and capacity to be devoted to better, more structured and regular energy and environmental reporting to external governmental and institutional bodies. Moreover, these new commitments should act a trigger for creating a more transparent energy supply chain for buildings. Re-evaluating and adopting a better step-by-step energy supply strategy will become increasingly important in the years to come.

Real estate investors may be expected to comply to new emission thresholds, standards and increased transparency, in order to meet new national targets

Finally, the initial Energy Efficiency Directive of the European Commission clearly stated the overarching goal of this agreement. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and using resources efficiently, the idea is to move towards a healthier, more comfortable and respectful future for people and the environment. It is of fundamental importance that all stakeholders understand the role that businesses and investments play in shaping the years ahead, and how this legislative step fits into a larger framework of creating resilient value for the future.


Sources:

  1. Energia, efficienza e rinnovabili al 32,5 e 32 per cento nel 2030. La Repubblica. Published.
  2. European Commission. 19 June 2018. Energy efficiency first: Commission welcomes agreement on energy efficiency American [Press release].
  3. European Commission. 13 November 2018. Commission welcomes European Parliament adoption of key files of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package. [Press release].
  4. European Commission. Buildings.

Health, Wellbeing and Resilience: where do we start?

Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of hosting our first breakfast event in our newly expanded London office. Speakers included our own Oli Pye, Jo Smallwood from M&G Real Estate, Richard Hamilton-Grey from TH Real Estate and Roxana Isaiu of GRESB. A lively two hours of presentation and discussion followed. Many points and some great examples were raised. Here are some of the headlines.


Health and wellbeing – a roadmap approach

Health, wellbeing and resilience in particular needs to be defined at organisational level. Oli presented a structured road map approach – recommending that real estate organisations map boundaries, consider materiality, manage risk and opportunities and monitor performance, before feeding back through a continual improvement loop. Assessing materiality is key to reducing the long list of possible impacts into a short list of material issues, taking account of the key business risks and opportunities as well as stakeholder expectations.

EVORA Global health and wellbeing roadmap approach

 

It was notable that both Oli and Jo highlighted the need for health and safety to be recognised as a key component of the broader health and wellbeing  agenda, with the former being more the protection of value and the latter creating value. Oli recommended the use of existing certification standards such as FITWEL to provide content and guidance to your approach rather than trying to create an approach from scratch. In the same way, Oli highlighted existing resources which had been developed to identify political, climatic and natural hazards around the world.


Systematic and tiered approach to health and wellbeing

Jo presented M&G’s approach to health and wellbeing, talked about the systematic and tiered approach M&G take and the target to reach 10 million people with their health, wellbeing and inclusivity programmes by 2025. This was underpinned by their three pillars of health and wellbeing;

  • Training and Awareness for the property managers to deliver enhanced support and customer service;
  • Information and Services, providing information on building accessibility and facilities – great examples Jo gave were changing accessible toilet signage in shopping centres (not all disabilities are visible) and the use of apps for tenant engagement;
  • Physical Environment to positively affect customers’ experience, with a good example being the introduction of shared electric vehicles at residential developments.

Resilience to protect and grow long term value

Richard took the audience through TH Real Estate’s approach to resilience to protect and grow long term value through evaluating cycles, understanding megatrends and focusing on cities. As well as the consideration of political, societal and technological megatrends, Richard highlighted the importance of resilience at the asset level to protect exit yield from specific areas such as future regulatory risk, climatic impact, reputational risk and potential obsolescence.

He also explained the importance of TCFD – the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures to provide the governance and transparency of reporting on climatic impacts for an organisation such as TH Real Estate.


GRESB real estate assessment

Finally, last-but-not least, Roxana discussed changes to GRESB. Happily for most of us, there are no major changes planned for 2019! She discussed the importance of buildings being healthy, resilient and efficient if they are to be sustainable and the requirement for GRESB to include these key elements into the survey. Health and wellbeing has been a separate module in GRESB for the last three years and in 2019 it will be fully integrated into the real estate assessment. Roxana discussed key learnings over the last three years, which included that investors care about health and wellbeing, that it has the ability to differentiate buildings and create value, and importantly that unlike environmental impact change that is driven by the capital providers, health and wellbeing is driven by the tenants and employees.


So, in conclusion, organisations should identify and define health and wellbeing and resilience strategies at the top level and establish systematic approaches to manage them (with continual improvement being a key element), as well as implementing controls and improvements at asset level to deliver on strategy promises.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Request our event resources.

Health and Wellbeing: Emerging or Mainstream?

For many professionals working in the built environment, Health and Wellbeing still feel like relatively new buzzwords. In some ways this is surprising given that the subject area has been around for many years; for example, the term “sick building syndrome” was coined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1986.

In reality though, the subject area has received a massive uptick in attention in recent years and a simultaneous increase in the number and robustness of relevant building standards: RESET was released to the public in 2009, the WELL standard (V1) was published in 2014 and Fitwel in 2015.

Perhaps in part this is due to an increase in available academic research linking employee health and wellbeing with improved productivity, which significantly boosts the business case for it to be taken seriously. And arguably, being taken seriously it is…

  • WELL boasts it has projects covering 195 million of square feet.
  • The health and wellbeing GRESB module will be integrated with the main GRESB survey in 2019. Indeed 32% of Real Estate participants and 52% of developers responded in 2018.

All of this makes me wonder whether Health and Wellbeing is now genuinely becoming mainstream?

Well, in my view the trajectory is certainly forward however, Health and Wellbeing certifications are not desirable for all buildings. Typically, these standards are being applied to new buildings and major renovations where clearly, the application of Health and Wellbeing will always be easier with a blank canvas. For me the challenge really lies in the integration of Health and Wellbeing improvements in existing buildings. According to Defra 80% of the current UK building stock will still be standing in 2050; thus there is  a huge imperative to address what can be done to make the spaces in which we work and inhabit supportive of long-term health and mental wellbeing.

As a first step towards achieving this goal for existing buildings, we work with clients to baseline the Health and Wellbeing credentials of their portfolios. This identifies gaps and key opportunities that will make a material difference and optimise the available budget. Whilst it may not be possible to redesign the fabric of the building or available daylight, improving the cycling facilities can enable tenants to switch their mode of commute. ‘Enable’ is the key word for landlords here. Although more direct interventions are possible through improvements to the ventilation and thermal comfort following a review of the building management system and the installation of sensors. These are but some of the scalable solutions that can be considered regardless of the inherent constraints of a building.

Going a step further if Healthy Buildings are to become mainstream this must be tackled in conjunction with the understanding that buildings do not operate in isolation.

Going a step further if Healthy Buildings are to become mainstream this must be tackled in conjunction with the understanding that buildings do not operate in isolation. The fact that the built environment can make a positive impact to enable ‘Healthy Placemaking’ needs to also be considered. Linking the internal with the external does move the goal post but it is all the more necessary if we are to be truly successful at enabling healthy outcomes for tenants and communities alike and fostering resilience.

The WELL Community standard seeks to address this and it will be interesting to track its adoption. Taking an integrated approach further boosts any derived benefits from interventions made at the asset level. Returning to the example of the improved cycling facilities within the building. Where this is made in conjunction with improved access to local cycling routes outcomes can be further enhanced. Approaching Health and Wellbeing as part of a joined-up strategy that situates the building in its locality will ensure we create truly Healthy Buildings and urban environments that serve many generations to come.

This blog post was first published on GRESB Insights.


You can download our FREE GRESB eBook here or contact one of the team to discuss how EVORA can help you.

Fitwel: Five ways Fitwel could benefit you and your buildings

Over a very short period of time, Fitwel has established itself as a leading health and wellbeing-related certification scheme for the built environment.

Fitwel was introduced in pilot form in 2014 and officially launched in November 2017. Current uptake statistics are impressive:

  • 95 buildings certified;
  • 620 projects registered;
  • 942 users; and,
  • 661 Fitwel ambassadors in over 22 countries.[1]

The concept of health and wellbeing has evolved over time and progressively broadened to incorporate a huge number of issues and considerations within the real estate sustainability sector.  Certification schemes like Fitwel [and WELL] are commensurately wide-ranging, and cover factors related to the indoor environment as well as aspects such as healthy foods, outdoor amenities and green spaces, among others.

Critically, these schemes weight different issues according to their level of scientific evidence and their degree of impact on health. With its 63 evidence-based strategies, Fitwel enables recent research on health and wellbeing to be practically implemented in our daily lives, whether it is in our offices or homes. Its research background is robust, with over 3,000 scientific studies incorporated and input garnered from multiple stakeholders.[2]

Fitwel enables recent research on health and wellbeing to be practically implemented in our daily lives, whether it is in our offices or homes

I have personally embarked upon the health and wellbeing journey by initially qualifying as a Fitwel Ambassador. I have started in this way as I believe that health and wellbeing certifications offer several multidimensional benefits towards people, the environment and have the potential to materially contribute towards securing a better future for both.


Five major benefits of certifying your assets through Fitwel:

  1. Occupant health, wellbeing and productivity
    A healthier building improves occupants’ wellbeing, productivity and satisfaction, increasing employee retention rates, company attractiveness and reputation.
  2. Tenant attraction, retention, longer lease terms and capital value
    We have arrived at a time where location, aesthetics, condition [etc] are not the only ones that will influence and determine your building’s attractiveness. Fitwel could be a tool to improve your building’s facilities, efficiency and even originality, following sometimes only very minor changes.
  3. A framework for a stronger strategy for the future
    Fitwel helps you to verify your approach to health and wellbeing, incorporating health and safety procedures, procurement and supply chain, sustainability and transparency. Additionally, through recertification every three years, Fitwel ensures that your building performance is not only maintained but also [and ideally] continually improved.
  4. Better practices and behaviours contribute to wiser asset and resource management
    Fitwel could push the boundaries of your overall management strategy at the asset level, resulting in the delivery of not only health and wellbeing-related infrastructure improvements, but also general improvements in tenant engagement/management practices, which may ultimately lead to increases in tenant satisfaction. These can benefit the overall performance of the building and increase the property and facilities managers’ consideration and awareness of tenant needs.
  5. Science-based and continuously evolving
    Fitwel’s strategies follow the latest research on health and wellbeing. Aligning to Fitwel therefore provides a way to ensure that your buildings meet the current and future health and wellbeing related requirements of its occupants.

Finally, we all love better looking, more efficient and pleasant cities. Each building resembles a piece of a puzzle for a healthier and better looking future. Fitwel is a way of contributing to the wider community and be at the forefront of future innovation.

If you’d like to know more about health and wellbeing and the Fitwel certification, do not hesitate to get in touch with our consultancy team.


[1]The Business Case for Healthy Buildings: Insights from Early Adopters. Washington, DC: Urban Land Institute, 2018
[2]Reference Guide for the Fitwel Certification System. Center for Active Design. New York, NY. Version 2. July 2018

EVORA’s Associate Director, Oli Pye, selected to join WELL Portfolio Advisory

Oli Pye, Associate Director has been invited by the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™) to be part of the 2018-2019 WELL Portfolio advisory.

Oli joins a select group of leading industry professionals who will guide the continuous evolution of the WELL Portfolio Pathway pilot, a new streamlined pathway for WELL Certification for multiple new or existing buildings and tenant spaces in a single portfolio.

Being released as part of the WELL v2 pilot, the latest iteration of the WELL Building Standard (WELL), WELL Portfolio is part of a suite of enhancements to WELL that addresses growing demand across the building industry for a program that helps owners, developers and tenants streamline and scale health and wellness upgrades to their real estate assets.

“Since we launched WELL, we’ve seen an explosion of interest from global companies to bring the same health and wellness benefits across their portfolios,” said IWBI Chairman and CEO Rick Fedrizzi. “The commitment of our early adopters who are now sharing their knowledge in this advisory role is what will make this process realizable for more companies and positively impact more people in every corner of the globe.”

The WELL Portfolio advisory includes a collection of professionals, practitioners and experts across a range of industries and sectors who will help shape and advance the implementation of the WELL Portfolio program.

Advisors will work with IWBI throughout the year to help ensure that WELL Portfolio continues to align with the latest industry research, meets user needs and raises the bar for healthy, high-performing buildings around the world.

Oli said, “I’m delighted to have been invited onto the panel with my fellow WELL Portfolio Advisors and I’m looking forward to supporting the programme.”

You can read more here.

Do sustainability professionals ever ‘switch off?’

It’s official: despite my best efforts, I cannot switch off from work.

It has slowly been creeping into my life away from the office without me even realising it. Don’t get me wrong, as a sustainability professional I am more than happy to recycle at home, switch off lights, nag my friends into action, and do various other things as part of ‘my bit’ for the environment. But lately it has been entering other areas of my life unannounced. I thought it would be interesting to share my experiences in the hope I’m not the only one!


Example 1 – Watching TV. I had a bit of a binge watch of the series ‘Mad Men’ on Netflix recently (for anyone who watched it first time round you will realise I am about 10 years late to this programme!). It has been described by some TV experts as the most historically accurate portrayal of the era out of any show which has made it to the small screen. The sexism and racism is, at times, jaw dropping, the costumes are spot on and everyone smoking and drinking heavily throughout the day is a well-established norm.

And yet, for all the things they got right (I am having to base this on other peoples’ opinions as I was born in the 80s!), there is one glaring error which ruins the show…..the lighting. The camera is regularly angled upwards to show row upon row of perfectly illuminated square LED panels – a major oversight for a show set in the 1960s/1970s!

Example 2 – The shopping experience. Long do I yearn for the days when I would simply walk into shops to buy things. Now however, my first thought is always the temperature. 98% of the time, shops do not take into account the fact that customers will be wearing clothes suitable for the external weather conditions. For example, if it’s 0ºC outside, they will be wrapped up appropriately, and the last thing they’ll want is to walk into a shop which is reminiscent of a sauna and be baked like an arctic explorer in the Amazon. Cue me walking into a shop and swiftly leaving after five seconds (which happens regularly!).

Example 3 – Going for dinner or drinks. Currently, the trend seems to be for bars and restaurants to be fitted out in a ‘vintage’ style, including filament style lightbulbs. My first thought when I walk into these places is whether they are actually old high wattage filament bulbs or a sneaky LED alternative (which can be very realistic). Cue my attempts to try and touch the lights to see how much heat is being given off, prompting some very shifty looks from the bar staff.

So, it seems that I am destined to never ‘switch off’ from the job. However, I take solace in the fact that the above scenarios are not life threatening and do not keep me awake at night (like some jobs must). Instead it has formed an integral, albeit mildly annoying, part of my sub-conscious that will likely never fade.

GRESB 2018: The Results

At EVORA, we support a broad range of clients to complete GRESB submissions – from new starters and organisations just starting out on development of their ESG strategies through to industry leaders.

This year, we assisted around 70 submissions.  It has been (and continues to be) challenging work. However, we are delighted with the results.  We are in the process of completing a detained analysis for all participants we supported, however, below, we set out some exciting highlights.


GRESB 2018 Results for some of our clients

FORE Partnership, a purpose-driven, direct co-investing platform for UK and European real estate achieved five green stars (out of five) and came third in its peer group.  This was particularly pleasing as FORE has rapidly progressed to five green stars through a deep-rooted commitment to incorporate sustainability into everything it does.

SPF Joint Venture, an investment in German out of town retail parks and managed by PATRIZIA achieved five green stars and came third overall in Germany.  This GRESB result recognises two years of work to establish best practice ESG programmes.

The Hines Pan-European Core Fund(HECF), an open-ended non-listed pan-European diversified core fund, also achieved five green stars.  This time, for the second year in a row. HECF also retained its GRESB Global Sector Leader status and ranked first among European diversified office/retail portfolios. This year, HECF also achieved first place among the 367 European non-listed vehicles and seventh globally among the 874 vehicles that participated in the survey. Notably, the HECF also ranked first globally in the optional ‘Health & Well-Being’ and ‘Resilience’ modules.  Read more here.

Europa Capital submitted five funds to GRESB. EVORA has supported Europa to develop and operate an ESG strategy over the last two years and has assisted with responding to GRESB for longer.  The ongoing work is paying off.  This is reflected by improved ratings for all funds and an average 15% score increase.

For more information on GRESB, and on Health, Wellbeing and Resilience in particular, why not request to attend our upcoming event.


EVORA Global GRESB Premier PartnerWe are perfectly positioned to provide GRESB support. View our official Premier Partner profile.

We can work with you to complete the submission and understand your scoring, as well as develop a sustainability plan that will improve your future GRESB performance and align with your organisation’s key environmental objectives.

GRESB 2018: A Call to Arms!

Following the release of individual respondent-level GRESB results on Friday 7th September, overall results were presented by GRESB in London on Tuesday 11th September. Results presentations will continue to be delivered by GRESB around the world throughout September.

Headline figures presented demonstrated both the increased level of interest in GRESB and the positive impact the survey is having on real estate sustainability performance. In summary:

  • Participation has increased. In 2018 there were;
    • 903 survey responses (207 of which were from publicly listed entities)
    • From 64 countries
    • Covering 79,000 assets and $3.5 trillion in gross asset value.
  • A continual improvement in ESG performance was reported – where average GRESB scores increased to 68, up from 63 in 2017.  GRESB state that this continued improvement reflects the industry’s commitment to further integrate ESG best practices.
  • Australia maintains its regional leadership position but the performance gap between geographies is narrowing.
  • Of the 79,000 buildings covered by GRESB, 50,000 submitted data at ‘asset level’ (74% of all participants).
  • 83% of reported energy data was subject to a third party review.
  • Like-for-like energy, GHG and water data all demonstrated a year-on-year reduction (a good thing).
  • 11% of reported floor area benefits from some form of green building certificate.

I am heartened by progress to-date and continue to believe that GRESB remains a powerful mechanism that can help drive change in the real estate industry. However, I also believe that as an industry we must change-up a few gears.

However, as an industry we must rapidly progress further towards automated collection and transfer of ESG performance data to speed-up the process and also reduce potential for human error.

We have been talking about data – coverage and quality – for years, and yet it is still a problem. This must be addressed ‘globally’ and soon. EVORA developed our proprietary software tool SIERA to support the process of data acquisition and validation.  The decision to do so was and continues to be transformational for us and our clients. It has helped simplify and speed-up data collection and analysis at meter, asset and fund level. However, as an industry we must rapidly progress further towards automated collection and transfer of ESG performance data to speed-up the process and also reduce potential for human error. The technology exists to automate data acquisition but adoption remains low, in simple terms, data collection is still a bottle neck and the source of many errors, even in 2018!

Furthermore, wholescale adoption of new technologies and investment in retrofit of domestic and non-domestic buildings is needed, especially if, as an industry, we are going to contribute to our fullest ability to the internationally agreed commitments to mitigate climate change.

Rapid progression is needed!


EVORA Global GRESB Premier PartnerWe are perfectly positioned to provide GRESB support. View our official Premier Partner profile.

We can work with you to complete the submission and understand your scoring, as well as develop a sustainability plan that will improve your future GRESB performance and align with your organisation’s key environmental objectives.