GRESB Results 2017: How SIERA Delivered Immense Efficiencies

The GRESB Results 2017 are out and the EVORA team is eagerly reviewing the scorecards and reports to see how our participating clients fared. Early indications are that the news is generally excellent. EVORA will have a presence at the results event in London next week, so we look forward to joining the other attendees to get GRESB’s view on the overall direction of travel.

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As one of the members of EVORA’s GRESB delivery team, I’ve been reflecting on the journey we took over the summer months to get to this point.

From a numbers perspective, it’s interesting to me that the effort to collate, validate and aggregate many and often disparate data points gets distilled down to a handful of scores across the main GRESB Aspects. The process of data gathering is a necessary function and can take a lot of time, but it’s important that participants and their delivery partners allow for time to understand the materiality of the data in each of the Aspects in relation to their business strategies. However, this is easier said than done when delivery times can often get compressed near the submission deadline. So it’s even more important that there are tools that drive efficiency in the data gathering and validation process so that we can take a step back from the detail to understand what the data is showing us.

[clickToTweet tweet=”@GRESB #data gathering can take a huge amount of time. The good news is that much of it can be automated with #SIERA.” quote=”GRESB data gathering can take a huge amount of time. The good news is that much of it can be automated.”]

For us as a delivery team, our system SIERA was vital in being able to provide the efficiencies we needed to be able to manage the sheer quantum of data that we were handling. The number of GRESB submissions that we were directly involved with delivering increased from last year by 57% to 36 in 2017. As many will appreciate, the sharp end of the data processing often relates to asset level data as this is more granular, so usually more assets means more data. To put this into context, in these direct submissions, we saw an 84% increase to just shy of 1000 assets collectively that without SIERA we would likely have found far more time consuming to manage.

New to SIERA? This video explains the software in less than 2 minutes.

SIERA is one of the systems that is helping with the shift away from manual entry to more automated transfer of data to the GRESB portal. Our Managing Director, Chris Bennett, wrote previously on how a more seamless transfer of data is welcome but it’s important we have visual clarity of the data being submitted. I’d like to explain a little more how SIERA helped provide both visual clarity but also massive efficiencies.

First of all, we had replicated GRESB’s Asset Level interface in SIERA so we could automate the transfer of not just the Performance Indicators but also a key set of qualitative asset level question responses and building characteristics. This meant that when we were happy with the data we could simply upload the SIERA template directly into the GRESB Portal and populate the Portfolio data, thus entirely removing the need to manually enter data into the GRESB Asset Spreadsheet.

This integration is only possible because SIERA’s database structure is fully aligned to GRESB’s data requirements. Even GHG calculations and waste volumes by disposal route are automatically calculated, which further reduces the chance of human error.

[clickToTweet tweet=”EVORA’s @sierasoftware significantly reduces the risks of human error when it comes to @GRESB’s #data requirements.” quote=”SIERA software significantly reduces the risks of human error when it comes to GRESB’s data requirements.”]

In 2017 we took SIERA beyond the Asset level interface to drive further efficiencies by automatically calculating the responses to a number of percentage coverage-related questions. Again, this was only possible due to SIERA’s ability to hold broad range of data types. For example, SIERA can store and profile EPC data for any EU region which meant that SIERA could automate the response to Q31, saving vast amounts of time using what would otherwise likely be spreadsheets. SIERA also replicated question RC 5.1 utilising the property characteristic information SIERA holds, which helped to align responses to the Performance Indicators.

The examples that I have highlighted in this post demonstrate how SIERA helped to save countless hours of data input which we typically estimated to be around a 70% time saving. EVORA is continuing to expand the question responses SIERA can auto-calculate and survey Aspects that can be more efficiently answered, so we look forward to being able to support on even more GRESB submissions in 2018.


Questions? Come and meet us at the GRESB Results 2017 Launch event in London on 13th September. To book a demonstration of SIERA, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 


GRESB Premier PartnerAs a GRESB Real Estate Premier Partner, we 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.

2017 GRESB Results: Future developments for enhanced portfolio sustainability performance

I, like many others, will be excited to receive the 2017 GRESB results when they are released tomorrow, 6th September. The rating approach, often simplified by how many Green Stars have been achieved, veils the trials, tribulations and efforts undertaken over the past year (or longer in many cases) to prepare for and complete the survey.

Visit our GRESB support service page.


Whilst I eagerly await gratifying news on how our clients fared for their past efforts, I am certainly more enthusiastic about collaborating on future programmes that will deliver value to their portfolios through making buildings productive, profitable and resilient to change.

In a previous blog, I introduced how the framework of an Environmental Management System (EMS) structured according to ISO’s Plan-Do-Check-Act methodology, is central to implementing successful real estate sustainability strategies that also result in better than peer average GRESB results.

In this blog, I introduce how insights into future developments of the GRESB survey will also provide that same win-win result of enhanced portfolio sustainability performance and GRESB ratings.


The Performance Indicator – a three-layer approach

The Performance Indicator (PI) ‘aspect’ is one of seven aspects in the GRESB survey. It holds joint top weighting, at 25%, with the Stakeholder Engagement aspect. Arguably, it is the Performance Indicator aspect that can best portray (to investors) how portfolios are performing and, importantly, contributing towards meeting the ambitious international targets set in the Paris Agreement. The PI aspect allows participants to set out their long-term sustainability targets together with quantitative disclosures on data coverage, like-for-like change and intensity values (KPIs) for energy, water, waste and carbon impacts.

A concern, however, is that the current approach does not provide investors with sufficient comparability of portfolio performance. This concern is underpinned by the fact that the current GRESB scoring approach rewards data coverage more highly than like-for-like change (concerning only year-on-year change, which certainly has limitations), but moreover, that no points are awarded for long-term changes to portfolio intensity values, such as kilowatt hours per metre square of lettable space. Only the methodology used to calculate intensities is scored, rather than the change in intensity values over time. The reason for this is likely due to a lack of data transparency and potential accuracy issues that stem from portfolio level, rather than asset level, reporting.

[clickToTweet tweet=”GRESB is willing to introduce an additional scoring element for accurate asset level data.” quote=”Current discussions indicate that GRESB is willing to introduce an additional scoring element for participants that can disclosure transparent and accurate asset level data.”]

GRESB recognises these issues and has set out to address them through a series of benchmarking committees, which EVORA participants in. Current discussions indicate that GRESB is willing to introduce an additional scoring element for participants that can disclose transparent and accurate asset level data. I expect GRESB to introduce their three-layer approach to Performance Indicator scoring in the 2018 or 2019 survey. This approach is set out below:

  1. All assets are evaluated on Transparency, based on data availability
  2. Only assets with high transparency levels can be evaluated on data Quality, given the external forms of data assurance or internal capabilities of data analysis (asset level data checks)
  3. Only assets with high data quality can be evaluated on Performance, most likely driven by like-for-like and intensities values.

Enhanced scoring methodology

GRESB is seeking to enhance its scoring methodology with the objective that only assets with high quality data are benchmarked to ensure fairness. This strategic change may assist in providing investors with more certainty on sustainability performance and comparability between portfolios.

[clickToTweet tweet=”GRESB is seeking to enhance scoring methodology with objective that assets with high quality data are benchmarked” quote=”GRESB is seeking to enhance their scoring methodology with the objective that only assets with high quality data are benchmarked to ensure fairness”]

Requesting asset level data will undoubtedly increase the reporting burden for a number of participants – most notably those who painstakingly enter portfolio level data directly into the portal.

Data can already be submitted at the asset level, either via an API link or the Asset Level Interface. However, this function is not used by all participants and furthermore, if you do not have the benefit of a sustainability software platform, such as SIERA  (which seamlessly updates the PI sections using the Asset Level Interface), then data collection and analysis will remain a manual, laborious task.


So why bother?

As mentioned above, the reward of additional points will be a sufficient driver for many. However, GRESB aside, let’s not forget that to make any notable impact on the performance of a portfolio, it is essential to have asset level data (or preferably meter level data) available in a format that can be easily accessed, interpreted and communicated to Asset and Property Management Teams in order to effectively manage sustainability impacts across a portfolio.

For more information on using data management systems to enhance portfolio performance see here.

Whilst some may see this change as GRESB introducing additional challenges and reporting burdens, I applaud their ambition in seeking to drive change in the real estate industry through promoting the availability and disclosure of investment grade asset-level data.

I applaud their ambition in seeking to drive change in the real estate industry through promoting the availability and disclosure of investment grade asset-level data.

It is important to reiterate that reporting asset, or even meter level data, doesn’t have to be a burden. Many participants, including all our clients benefitted from using the direct interface provided by SIERA to seamlessly update the required field in the Performance Indicator section and additionally, to review opportunities to make their buildings productive, profitable and resilient to change.


What’s next?  Plan-Do-Check-Act

Reverting to the Plan-Do-Check-Act methodology, I recommend that Fund, Asset and/or Property Managers review if they can effectively understand and manage sustainability impacts at asset and meter level using existing programmes. Where there is any doubt, I encourage stakeholders to:

  • Plan – start early and identify what you can meter already and what you would like to meter
  • Do – implement an appropriate metering strategy according to the value proposition of doing so
  • Check – utilise the powerful Monitoring & Targeting, and reporting tools provided by SEIRA
  • Act – use the investment grade data obtained through SIERA to drive improvements across your portfolio(s)

If you’d like to talk to us about your GRESB results, or about SIERA, we will be at the London results launch on 13th September. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch to arrange a meeting or a demo.


GRESB Premier PartnerAs a GRESB Real Estate Premier Partner, we 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.