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Healthy and Wealthy! Upcoming Event: How to Improve Health and Wellbeing in Existing Commercial Properties

On Monday 3rd April, EVORA is running an event in partnership with BRE focusing on the health and wellbeing of operational buildings. There has been a lot of attention on health and wellbeing at the design and construction stages, but practical steps need to be considered for our existing building stock.


Event: How to Improve Health and Wellbeing in Your Existing Commercial Properties - book now!Click To Tweet

As professional sustainability consultants, a key part of our role has focused on reducing the environmental impacts in buildings, especially energy, due to the greater carbon impact and cost.

However, with the World Green Building Council’s Health buy levitra india online https://levitraed.com/ Levitra is a modern medicine that can give me unforgettable emotions during sex. I prefer Vardenafil pills as it rapidly impacts my body, has a long-lasting effect and even is compatible with alcoholic beverages that I like to drink on a date. Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices study referencing that 90% of a typical business’s overheads are staff costs compared to less than 2% for energy, common sense dictates that we must also ensure focus on providing healthy and productive properties for our landlords.

Although far from easy, approaches like the WELL building standard are available to support application in design and construction phases. However, consideration in existing buildings, especially from a landlord perspective, is more challenging. The infrastructure is already in place and the fabric of the building is set, so is there much opportunity to address the key elements of health and wellbeing as defined by the WELL Building Institute, i.e.

  • Air
  • Water
  • Nourishment
  • Light
  • Fitness
  • Comfort
  • Mind

Secondly, where tenants are in situ, what influence can the landlord have? Energy management has generally been straightforward with the majority of managed offices providing shared services of heating and ventilation enabling the landlord to influence the energy efficiency throughout the building. Health and wellbeing is more complex where the real opportunity is in the tenants’ own demises. How should the landlord engage, who pays for an evaluation of the tenant’s space and what are the intended outcomes both for the tenant and the landlord?

In our Healthy Buildings event, we bring together a number of industry experts to share their knowledge, experience and latest research to provide clarity and practical application in achieving healthy and productive operational spaces to work in.

The event is split into three sessions: the first focusing on the landlord and occupier perspective; the second provides a consultant’s viewpoint, identifying both the challenges and opportunities; and the final session identifies research and the application of solutions in relation to key elements of healthy buildings including lighting, biophilia, air quality and thermal comfort.

Healthy Buildings event: join EVORA, UKGBC, BRE, Arup, The Crown Estate, British Land and others on 3rd April. Book now!Click To Tweet

Among the 15 speakers are:

  • John Alker, UKGBC
  • Rebecca Pearce, CBRE
  • Darren Wright, Arup
  • Jane Wakiwaka, The Crown Estate
  • Matthew Webster, British Land

I am extremely excited by this event which will challenge the real estate industry on what can be done to make our existing assets healthy and productive places to work.


Don’t miss this exciting event – click here to view the full agenda and book your tickets now.

INREV and Sustainability Reporting: Mandatory Requirements and Best Practice Recommendations

INREV is the European Association for Investors in Non-Listed Real Estate Vehicles. It is recognised as the leading platform for sharing knowledge on the non-listed real estate industry and has a goal to improve transparency, professionalism and best practices across the sector.


In 2016 INREV Sustainability Reporting Guidelines were revised to establish a disclosure framework that enables delivery of meaningful data to increase visibility and insight into an investment vehicle’s ESG efforts and also details their next course of action for improvements. The new guidelines aim to present a clear picture of sustainability strategies and require the reporting of energy performance data.  They are aligned, where possible, with other industry standards including GRESB, EPRA and GRI.

The new INREV Guidelines published in 2016 consist of mandatory sustainability reporting requirements and best practice recommendations.

The INREV Guidelines consist of mandatory sustainability reporting requirements and best practice recommendations.Click To Tweet

The mandatory requirements have to be reported on an annual basis to claim compliance with the INREV Guidelines. Managers are required to report, based on these guidelines, over the year 2017.


Mandatory Requirements

  • Describe the overall approach to setting a long term ESG strategy for the vehicle
  • Detail the vehicle’s approach for ensuring compliance for current legislation relating to ESG issues is in place
  • Set out the annual objectives and associated targets for the coming 12-month reporting period
  • Detail objectives for the next 12-month reporting period for ensuring compliance with current legislation in relation to ESG and about preparations for any future legislation that may be undertaken in this period
  • Report against annual objectives and associated targets set for the vehicle
  • Report against compliance with current legislation requirements and objectives and associated targets for preparations for upcoming legislation
  • Disclose absolute and like-for-like environmental data for the proportion of the vehicle’s portfolio that is in the fund manager’s operational control.  This should cover:
    • Energy
    • GHG Emissions
    • Water
    • Waste

Best Practice Requirements

  • Detail any additional key material aspects for the ESG strategy for the vehicle
  • Detail additional information on other annual objectives (related to key material aspects referenced above) and associated targets for the vehicle based
  • Report against the annual objectives and associated targets as set out above
  • Disclose absolute and like-for-like environmental data for the available tenant data for the vehicle’s portfolio

Whilst this blog focuses on INREV, EPRA – The European Public Real Estate Association – sets out CORE and Additional Requirements in much the same way.

EVORA, supported by our proprietary software, SIERA, is highly experienced in the collation, analysis and reporting of data.  For further information, please get in touch.

The Internet of Things: Thinking Smart in the Commercial Real Estate Sector (Part 2 of 3)

There is no doubt that the Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the commercial real estate sector. It has emphasised the use of space in buildings, tapping into the connections of people and the environment. For real estate investment and management, buildings, people and energy performance form part of the network which can benefit from the IoT movement.

Exploring the role of data and the Internet of Things (IoT) in the commercial real estate sector.Click To Tweet

In Part 1, I eluded to the IoT as the ecosystem of things that are interconnected through sensors and connections. A building is a perfect example of this. When we start to connect the dots between the elements of a building’s design and operation, we can use the data to tell us more about what is going on in that building and how we can manage it in a better way.

What are the opportunities for the IoT in buildings?

Many sensors in the building can ‘sense’ the environment and gather information in real-time. The types of information that can be collected are light, humidity and temperature etc. With the IoT, it is possible to collect, compile and analyse data remotely about that building, which can be conveniently accessed via the cloud. As I mentioned in Part 1, data is the currency in this age.


The Internet of Things- Thinking Smart in the Commercial Real Estate Sector

Here are five ways the IoT can add-value:

1. Energy Efficiency

IoT technology can help increase efficiency through enhanced building performance and better management of the portfolio. One way this can be achieved is through looking at how spaces are being used. Data exchanges can give an insight into the value of processes and interactions between occupants and building operation. The building will become a smarter hub, where data can inform systems which can directly engage with occupants and adjust for their needs and the environment. From this, we can create more targeted energy distribution strategies and tenant engagement programmes.

2. Connectivity to the Cloud

IoT enabling technologies such as sensors can ensure data availability and visualization without being on-site at the building. Data can give an indication of how the building is operating and patterns can be identified in energy consumption or temperature for example. From this, many metrics can be linked together to give the larger picture on building performance.

3. Improved Living and Working Spaces

IoT is the step forward in making the environment more comfortable and reduce wastage; this creates new avenues for revenue generation through tapping into the essence of building use and adjusting where necessary. In the future, we can expect smart building technologies to have self-learning capabilities, like the human brain, to recognise patterns and make real-time adjustments.

4. Sustainability strategies

Building sustainability management strategies can be informed by data, which can lead to more accurate predictive capabilities and better asset management. The building can be optimized and operational costs reduced through IoT-enabled Building Management Systems (BMS). For example, occupant comfort is an opportunity and the use of better zoning controls can help achieve this; keeping occupants happy whilst reducing operational costs.

5. Building Design

Sensors collect data on how spaces are being utilized and this data can feed into the mathematical models for building intentions at the design-phase.

Five ways the Internet of Things can add value to the commercial real estate sector.Click To Tweet

Overall, the IoT movement has the potential to generate new avenues for revenue generation by tapping into the connections between people and buildings. As the world is becoming an increasingly interconnected place, cities are becoming smarter and the need for data applications accessible through the cloud is necessary.

Why not look at our software, SIERA, which has been created specifically for the commercial real estate sector? In Part 3, we will explore SIERA in more detail.


To speak to us about SIERA, or for any other enquiries, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

Commercial Real Estate Sustainability in 2017: Seven Likely Highlights

I think most will agree that 2016 has been year of surprises and uncertainties in many arenas. In spite of this, we’ve seen some positive moves in many aspects of the world of commercial real estate sustainability and 2017 could shape up to be an equally encouraging one. I wanted to share EVORA’s thoughts on what we think the highlights of the next 12 months could be.


1. EU and US Political Surprises

The question is will the progress of recent years to a greener and more energy efficient real estate sector be halted or even reversed following Britain’s vote to leave the EU and the US electing Trump? However, the reality is that for the next 5-10 years there could be very little regulatory change, certainly in Europe. Let’s not forget the global context; the UK and other members of the EU are all also members of the International Energy Agency (IEA). As such all are committed to implementing IEA guidelines which is a good example of why the UK as a whole, and more specifically the real estate sector, would still be required to act on climate change whether part of the EU or not.

Aside from Brexit we’ve already been anticipating some ‘rationalisation’ of the UK energy legislative landscape i.e. the review of how its main elements work together; Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), Climate Change Levy (CCL), the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) and mandatory GHG reporting etc.

For the time being, companies will still need to comply with existing legislation and instruments such as ESOS (and MEES – see No. 3, below) should surely, at the very least, only promote the business case for investment in energy efficiency rather than hinder it. Although broader economic performance has not been as bad as predicted since the Brexit vote, the continued uncertainty will be stifling company decision making and the sooner the UK government can provide clarity the better.


2. The Health & Wellbeing Agenda

Recent months have been awash with this topic and I would like to think that, despite staff engagement within many organisations still having some way to go, there need be no more debate that addressing health and wellbeing has a demonstrable business case. There are some great case studies coming out of the retail and commercial office sectors but can we expect 2017 to be the year in which there will be more action? EVORA expects the profile to continue to be increased but perhaps firm action (and to a certain extent, interest) could be limited to major developers and larger investment companies. That said, rapid acceleration of relatively inexpensive monitoring technologies should enable ease of access to valuable data (such as indoor air quality) to organisations of all sizes. This could lead to occupiers taking the initiative on health and wellbeing conversations with their landlords. It will also be interesting to follow the uptake of and insights provided by GRESB’s Health & Wellbeing Assessment; 2016 already saw nearly 25% of the entities that reported to the GRESB Real Estate Assessment voluntarily report to the Health & wellbeing module.


3. EPCs

With the 2018 Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) deadline looming, we could see potential high profile litigation relating to historically incorrect EPC assessments. With not much more than a year to go, 2017 should see a lot of activity in this space with a push to understand and address EPC risks. This is something EVORA have recognised the need for expertise in having recently launched EVORA EDGE, our technical engineering division.


4. Science Based Targets

Following the first theme regarding the global context to action on climate change, 2016 saw an increase in the commercial real estate sector’s interest in science based targets (SBTs). One of our Junior Consultants, Kim Diep, wrote two blogs on this providing considerations for the real estate sector. EVORA anticipates that SBTs will continue to gain interest amongst the REITs and Institutional Investors that consider themselves at the forefront of carbon reduction target setting. This will no doubt be a topic on the minds of those following the ongoing response to the COP21 outcomes as a means of aligning the carbon reduction strategies for real estate to the requirements of broader climate policy.


5. Increasing Momentum in Voluntary Reporting

2016 saw a 30% increase in the number of participants in GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) in two years, with Europe participants alone comprising $750 bn in total asset value. EVORA was certainly kept busy managing the process of more than 40 submissions for our participating clients. Indeed, the uptake of GRESB in the real estate sector is a fairly good barometer of interest. Investors are asking more and more about ESG and GRESB appears to be an increasingly popular means of engaging in the topic with their fund and asset managers. GRESB has recently released the guidance for the 2017 survey; whilst it’s important that participants engage with GRESB to shape the methodologies to ensure scoring is reflective of market conditions, it will be good news to the ears of those involved with administering submissions that the Real Estate Assessment is being kept stable. EVORA expects increased uptake but also even more focus on score improvement.

Stay tuned to our newsletters for information on the release of our upcoming GRESB eBook and our GRESB Masterclass in March.


6. Focus on Data Accuracy

With more and more data being collected and analysed to inform real estate decision making, accuracy is going to be ever more important. We’ve already highlighted this in respect of EPCs but also GRESB as an example where accuracy of information will be key to implementing improvements and where there is a trend increasingly toward the need for investment grade data. These are merely two examples against a background of emerging ‘big data’ trends which are increasingly pertinent in the real estate sector. Our Technical Architect, Alex Graham, blogged about this very topic in 2016; he highlighted how big data will continue to shape our approach to our software SIERA, for example, to enable our clients to get the insights and information they need to improve their sustainability efforts.


7. Continued Fall in Cost of Low Carbon Tech

Despite the recent backtracking from the Government on the fiscal incentives for low carbon technologies, EVORA would argue that the shortfall in policy could be replaced by market forces which seek similar objectives to ensure a low carbon, energy efficient, economically viable and productive real estate sector. Therefore, despite the seemingly persistent barriers, we expect to see a continued uptake and fall in cost of low carbon technologies. Getting the strategic balance between decarbonisation of energy supplies/generation and energy efficiency will continue to be important.


If you have any questions or if you would like more information on any of the topics covered in this blog post, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts today.

The 2017 GRESB Reporting Cycle and Five Tips for GRESB Survey Submission Success!

On your marks, get set… GRESB!

According to the time stamp on Tuesday’s Newsletter from GRESB, 01:51pm marked the starting gun for the GRESB 2017 reporting cycle. The race is on…!

Within the Newsletter, GRESB provided a link to the ‘pre-release’ of their Real Estate and Developer Assessment surveys. Review of the pre-release offers early insight into changes to the 2017 survey. Understanding the changes may unveil potential impacts on your organisation’s ability to maintain/improve its GRESB score and illuminate possible logistical challenges regarding gathering the necessary evidence and data in order to complete the survey.

I have written this blog to help you unpick these changes and explore the potential impacts on your business. Loosely, the contents of this blog boil-down as follows:

  • very brief reminder of the purpose and importance of GRESB and key dates for your 2017 diary
  • outline of the key changes for the 2017 survey and reflections on the impact of these changes
  • some humble tips on how to achieve GRESB and, more generally, ESG success.
The GRESB 2017 reporting cycle. The race is on…!Click To Tweet

What is GRESB?

In their own words, GRESB (or Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) is “…an investor-driven organization that is transforming the way we assess the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of real assets globally, including real estate portfolios and infrastructure assets.”

With over 250 investor members and having assessed more than 1,100 property entities, GRESB continues to dominate the ESG rating industry for commercial real estate, globally.

Key dates for your calendar:

  • March 1, 2017 – Release of
    • Assessment Reference Guide
    • Health & Well-being Module and Reference Guide
  • April 1, 2017 – GRESB Portal opens
  • June 1, 2017 – Response Check request deadline
  • July 1, 2017 – Assessment deadline
  • September 6, 2017 – Results day
Here are 5 key GRESB dates for your calendar...Click To Tweet

Key changes identified in the ‘pre-release’

Overall, the changes this year are relatively minor and thus if you are familiar with the GRESB format I think it would be justified for you to breathe a sigh of relief at this point. That said, it is important to bear in mind that larger changes are pipped for 2018, which GRESB Managing Director Sander Paul van Tongeren confirmed at our GRESB event in November 2016.

Scoring and weighting changes

Perhaps the most significant change is the increased emphasis on completing technical building assessments covering a broader range of sustainability impacts (Q16). ‘Piloted’ in the 2016 survey, from 2017 technical building assessments of impacts other than energy will be scored for the first time. This includes:

  • water (up to 1.5 points)
  • waste (up to 0.5 points)
  • health and wellbeing (up to 0.5 points)

Critically, the increased emphasis on assessment of improvement opportunities has been balanced by slightly reducing points available for actual implementation of efficiency measures for energy (Q17) and water (Q18).

We at EVORA have mixed feelings about this particular change. On the one hand, we worry when attention is taken away from making real and tangible interventions to improve asset sustainability performance. As such, we speculate as to whether the points should have been ‘balanced’ through reductions in points associated with a different section of the survey.

On the other hand, we do welcome the increased emphasis on other sustainability issues beyond energy. Energy has rightly been the emphasis of action for many organisations to date as it typically contributes the greatest environmental impact and is attributed with the highest operational cost of buildings, after security and M&E. However, water, waste and health and wellbeing matter as well and also present real opportunities for operational improvements that can benefit tenants, asset owners and investors. This is something EVORA strongly supports and on which we have a strong track record of advising clients. For example, we have competed more than 300 sustainability audits over the last six years.

Increases in reporting requirements

A small number of questions have been bolstered in order to increase the robustness of their assessment.

  • Increase in data granularity: Portfolio coverage for energy (Q17), water (Q18) and waste (Q19) technical building assessments must now be reported as a precise percentage of the whole portfolio. Previously, drop-downs were provided at 25% increments (e.g. >0 – <25%, ≥25 – <50%).
  • More supporting evidence: Monitoring property/asset managers’ compliance the sustainability-specific requirements (Q41.1) must now include upload of supporting evidence.

Reduction in the reporting burden

Several questions have been streamlined, generally on the basis that they will make the survey more straightforward and / or less resource intensive to complete, without compromising data and therefore rating quality. For example, a number of open text boxes and evidence upload requirements have been reduced or removed.

As long as the robustness of the assessment is preserved, we welcome improvements in the efficiency of GRESB’s reporting requirements.


Five Tips for GRESB Survey Submission Success!

As I write this blog, there are about 163 days left until the 2017 deadline.

In some respects this feels like a long time, however – and you will know this if you have completed an investor survey of this nature before – it is easy to underestimate the importance of planning when it comes to GRESB delivery.

Don't underestimate the importance of planning when it comes to GRESB delivery!Click To Tweet

As you look to start plotting out your programme, we recommend that you consider the following:

  1. Start early.
  2. Remind yourself what went well and less well last year – consider both the process and individual question responses.
  3. Engagement and education of people that will support you in delivering GRESB. Keep in regular touch with these people, particularly if they will be providing you with information.
  4. Data automation – our propriety software, SIERA, delivered 41 GRESB submissions in 2016, helping clients to seamlessly acquire and report data. Why not take a look at the following blog post: GRESB Data Automation: Ensuring Seamless Does Not Result in Senseless.
  5. Seek external support / advice. EVORA will be holding a masterclass on responding to GRESB, in March 2017. Keep a look out for this in our e-newsletters and be sure to sign up early.
Here are Five Tips for GRESB Survey Submission Success!Click To Tweet

Tips for ESG management and performance success

For more general advice on how to implement practical and tailored sustainability solutions, please refer to the following blog post: Environmental Management Systems: Plan-Do-Check-Act…Deliver?


EVORA is a GRESB Premier PartnerAbout Us

Why firms choose us for GRESB survey submission support

EVORA is an independent, pan-European sustainability consultancy and software provider, specialising in (but not limited to) the commercial real estate sector. We are a GRESB Premier Partner Consultancy.

We have helped a large number of funds complete the GRESB survey, including Schroder Real Estate, AEW and Moorfield. Our experience and relationship with the GRESB team has enabled us to provide comprehensive client support – and in all cases improved results.

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.

For more information, please sign up to our newsletter and remember to look out for our upcoming GRESB Masterclass!

Giving Our Clients The EDGE With Our New Technical Engineering Division

I hope you are having a very happy new year, which will also bring you good health and prosperity. It has been three months since my last update bringing the exciting news of our rebrand to EVORA, recognising our own evolution, as well as that of the real estate industry, being transformed by the impact of sustainability.

A lot can happen in three months, as we experienced in 2016 with some pretty groundbreaking changes around the world. So, not to be outdone, we have some pretty groundbreaking news of our own with the launch of EVORA EDGE, our new technical engineering division.

CRE sustainability consultancy, EVORA, launches EVORA EDGE - its new technical engineering division.Click To Tweet

Technical Engineering Solutions for the Built Environment

EVORA EDGE, being an acronym for Energy, Design, Generation and Engineering, further positions EVORA as a leading full service provider to meet the ever-evolving needs of the commercial real estate sector. EVORA EDGE will complement our current energy and M&E consulting provision with a much more comprehensive breadth and depth of engineering solutions.

I am also delighted to announce that Andrew Cooper, an expert in asset and energy management, and Neil Dady, a senior building services engineer, have merged their respective businesses with EVORA to head up EVORA EDGE. Both Andrew and Neil have joined as Directors and bring a wealth of knowledge and practical experience.

Andrew Cooper & Neil Dady join EVORA as Directors of its new technical engineering division, EVORA EDGE.Click To Tweet

EVORA EDGE will not only significantly strengthen our existing technical offering, which includes the delivery of Part L of Building Regulations, energy audits, EPC work and MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards) compliance, but will also provide us with a wealth of new services, including:

  • Building services specification and management
  • Compliance with the Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations and with CIBSE CP1(Heat Networks: Code of Practice of the UK)
  • Indoor air quality performance auditing (health and wellbeing)
  • Life cycle assessment including embodied carbon

Please click here to see the full list of services delivered by EVORA EDGE.


Andrew Cooper EVORA EDGE Technical Engineering SolutionsAndrew Cooper

Andrew has over 23 years of property experience. He is regarded as an expert in asset and energy management, and has a background in lease advisory. He is a Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) Low Carbon Consultant (in Building Design, Building Simulation and Heat Networks), a CIBSE Low Carbon Energy Assessor (to Level 5, the highest level of accreditation possible) and a MEI Chartered Energy Manager. Andrew comments:

“I have worked as an independent consultant and Deloitte LLP sub-consultant since 2008, and I am delighted to be joining EVORA to help set up its new engineering division. EVORA EDGE will both complement and expand upon the existing technical services offered by company.”


Neil Dady EVORA EDGE Technical Engineering SolutionsNeil Dady

Neil has over 25 years Director-level experience in the building services sector, specialising in air conditioning and mechanical services. He has a wealth of experience in delivering energy audits, identifying inefficiencies and optimising energy performance whilst project managing deliverable solutions. Neil comments:

”Having worked with the EVORA team for many years, I am excited to be joining this dynamic business. EVORA EDGE will bridge the gap between design concepts and engineered projects. Our focus will be on practical solutions with measured and managed outcomes.”


Looking Ahead

This continues to be a very exciting time for EVORA. Our mission from the beginning has been to work with our clients to provide practical solutions whilst providing an outstanding level of service.

Our services now extend to:

  • EVORA – expert commercial real estate sustainability consultancy across Europe
  • SIERA – leading sustainability management software for the commercial real estate investment market
  • EVORA EDGE – industry-leading technical engineering solutions for the built environment

EVORA SIERA EVORA EDGE logos together

EVORA - providing practical sustainability solutions and an outstanding level of service to the commercial real estate sector.Click To Tweet

To learn more about any of the services delivered by EVORA EDGE, or to contact Andrew or Neil, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Science-Based Targets: Considerations for the Commercial Real Estate Sector

Interest in Science-Based Targets (SBTs) has grown significantly following last year’s Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris (which led to a climate change agreement signed by 195 member states) and more recently at COP22 in Marrakech. For a general overview, take a look at Part 1 for a short introduction to Science-Based Targets.

The importance of greenhouse gas emission reductions is expected to have varying implications across different industries. For the commercial real estate sector, there are several issues to consider.

Science-Based Targets: Categorising Emissions

SBT platforms require the input of emissions data, which is then analysed to generate emission reduction targets over time. Greenhouse gas emissions are caused by multiple organisational activities. One way to describe greenhouse gas emissions is through Scopes 1, 2 and 3 according to the GHG Protocol as shown in Figure 1.

Science-Based Targets: Discussions for Commercial Real Estate: Blog Image 1

Figure 1. Scopes and Emission Breakdown (Source: GHG Protocol, 2011)

Science-Based Targets: Discussions for Commercial Real Estate: Blog Image 2

Data on emissions from sources is collected, entered into a model, and then targets for each emission scope are set based on the business’ contribution to the overall 2°C reduction plan (agreed at COP21). This relies on the ability to measure and monitor accurately the different categories of greenhouse gas emissions for an organisation’s activities (Figure 1 – GHG Protocol, 2011). The Better Buildings Partnership (2016) recently made this observation, but specifically mentioned the landlord-tenant split and allocation of emissions as the key challenges. The problem for commercial real estate firms is who is made accountable for the emissions– the landlord, the tenant or both?

The problem for commercial real estate firms is who is made accountable for the emissions– the landlord, the tenant or both?Click To Tweet

Different Approaches

We have been asked by clients to explain how Science-Based Targets actually work in practice. This is a good question. At present, there are many approaches available. Examples include: the Sectoral Decarbonisation Approach (SDA); The Absolute Emissions Compression; The 3% Solution; Climate Stabilisation Intensity Targets (CSI); Corporate Finance Approach to Climate-Stabilising Targets (C-FACT); GHG Emissions per Value Added (GEVA) and Context-based Carbon Metrics (CSO). All have different approaches.

How do Science-Based Targets actually work in practice?Click To Tweet

The Sectoral Decarbonisation Approach (SDA) is currently being considered alongside other approaches within commercial real estate. It was originally developed by the Carbon Disclosure Project, World Resources Institute and WWF. Here, we focus on this approach, but in the future, we will consider other methodologies.

How does SDA work?

In short, this method splits up the carbon reduction pathway to different kinds of sectors and activities and is based on the establishment of business-level emission trajectories that support the 2°C global warming threshold, developed by the International Energy Agency, which limits the total remaining cumulative energy-related CO2 emissions between 2015 and 2100 to 1,000 GtCO2 (IEA, 2014).

The step-by-step approach for setting emissions targets

The steps below provide a summary of how SDA targets are set (this is intended to be an overview, please contact us for more information).

  1. Identify emissions by converting energy use into CO2e
  2. Categorize by Activity Type or Scope
  3. Produce a forecast of business-as-usual for each activity type – what will emissions look like if the business continues without intervention?
  4. Produce a forecast for each activity type based on the emission reduction required to align with the global 2°C carbon reduction target. This becomes your SBT
  5. Compare Business-as-Usual vs. Science-Based Target for the different activities
  6. Combine activity-level analysis to identify an overall target
  7. Track progress over time, engage and review
Science-Based Targets: Discussions for Commercial Real Estate: Blog Image 3

Figure 2. Sectoral Decarbonisation Approach Schematic. Source: Science-Based Targets http://sciencebasedtargets.org/

 

Modelling Methodologies – Some Considerations

Emissions data is not the only input that goes into the model – especially with regard to real estate. There are other things to consider:

  • Scale: What do the emissions cover and what is the timescale – building level or portfolio level?
  • Geography and Location: Where does it apply?
  • Activities: What kinds of activities occur in the building? What activity levels are we expecting to see in the building? What are the occupancy levels like? What does the electricity-use look like?
  • Trends and Changes Over Time: What are the consumption trends and how do we see this changing in the future i.e. rates of change?
  • The Grid and Energy Procurement: Should carbon emissions from the grid be factored into the model? How are regional variations in the make-up of the grid and type of energy procurement taken into account in the emission scenarios?

On the whole, there is the question of what to include or exclude from the model. There is a risk of data over-refinements and normalisation, which could lead to an erroneous not-so-Science-Based result, which could be meaningless as a strategy!

Data Accuracies: Measurement and Monitoring

Target-Setting begins with data. If the data was poor at the outset, it cannot be considered to be a true reflection of what is happening in reality and as a result, any target would be inaccurate. SBTs are only scientific in their alignment to decarbonisation pathways which lead to a limit of 2°C global surface temperature increase, but it is wrong to believe that SBTs can act as the silver-bullet approach to achieve cost-savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions directly.

It is wrong to believe that SBTs can act as the silver-bullet approach to achieve cost-savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions directly.Click To Tweet

Another issue is how to set the baseline for SBTs. Of course, the scale and extent of data matters in this case, especially with the issues of measurement, monitoring and completeness of greenhouse gas emissions data at the building and portfolio level.

Concluding Remarks

Setting SBTs has the potential to convey a message and a common goal; but there is a need to link to the bigger picture.

Other factors should be considered alongside SBTs for maximizing the performance of portfolios through achieving energy and cost-saving opportunities. The setting of SBTs as outlined above does not consider opportunity for improvement. SBTs should be used as the initial framework and its design should be informed by data and sustainability management strategies, as well as the climate science. Performance must also be tracked over time to assess alignment to the target.

In the future, SBTs are expected to be a popular area for development, but for now, take-up is still slow in the commercial real estate industry.


What next? It is clear that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, if you identify any issues on sustainability and data management strategies that you would like to talk to us more about, please get in touch.



Further reading:

Science-Based Targets: A Quick Introduction

This is an introductory post. To find out what Science-Based Targets mean for commercial real estate firms, look out for Part 2. You can join our exclusive mailing list here.


What does it all mean?

Interest in Science-Based Targets (SBTs) has grown significantly following last year’s Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris (which led to a climate change agreement signed by 195 member states) and more recently at COP22 in Marrakech.

Climate modelling studies point to the influence of human-driven climate change on increasing overall global surface temperatures. SBTs have been established to support achievement of the agreed target which aims to keep global warming below 2°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures (IPCC, 2013). Thus, it is important to situate CO2 emissions within the framework of the past, present and future (IPCC, 2013) and this represents a long-term commitment in tackling climate change.

Science-Based Targets: The Potential?

There is a lot of potential for SBTs, as their use could bolster corporate action on making long-term greenhouse gas emission reductions, as carbon emissions have been proven to enhance the earth’s greenhouse effect, leading to increasing global surface temperatures.

However, SBTs will only be effective because they align to the Paris Agreement’s 2°C target which is a simple, clear goal that not only conveys the urgency of the need for action, but also allows policy-makers to make decisions which have global significance (Rahmstorf, 2014).

How Scientific is a Science-Based Target?

SBTs are scientific in the sense that they align to the 2°C global warming target, but the process that goes into designing a SBT is complex and resource-intensive and may not be transparent to the user. As with climate modelling techniques, tools used to inform SBTs are still undergoing refinements, and to this end, there are still some issues to consider in terms of their practical applications.

To the user, SBTs appear as a ‘black box’ solution. Information on user activities are inputted into the systems and this is used to generate outputs.  However, to the regular user, little known about how the calculations are made. Understanding on how SBTs work will need to develop before we see widespread use.

Science-Based Targets: A 5-Minute Discussion Blog Image 1

Figure 1. A Black Box. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_box

Even without a SBT, it makes sense to seek energy-saving measures, apply sustainability strategies to prevent loss of financial value and improve organizational reputation. If used correctly, a SBT can support development of improvement goals and plans. However, such targets can vary according to the context of use, importantly, the data used to inform the target-setting process at the outset. Moving forward, it will be important to assess the applicability of each SBT approach and how it works in practice.

Final Thoughts

There are multiple SBT methodologies out there and results will differ dependent on the approach taken. At a user level the analogy of cake baking using different ovens can be used.  All ingredients are prepared in the same way, however, different ovens lead to differing results. One questions whether multiple different approaches will help to achieve the common goal or will the complexity cause confusion and possibly even slow progress.

SBTs are still in their infancy.  Profile is increasing but understanding is still low. The initiative is certainly thought-provoking and something to look out for in the future. At the present time, SBTs do not have the same weight in the commercial real estate sector than it does in other sectors and take-up has been slow.


Look out for Part 2 in this series: Science-Based Targets: Discussions for Commercial Real Estate


To talk to us about Science-Based Targets and what they mean for your organisation, please get in touch.


Interesting Links:

Science-Based Targets Initiative

COP22 Marrakech

IPCC: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis

How Can GRESB Help to Deliver Fund Performance? Key Highlights from Our Exclusive Event

Read this post for some exclusive updates from GRESB that were announced during the event, and to find out how you can make sure you don’t miss out on attending our future events.


Background

EVORA is a GRESB Premier PartnerOn Tuesday 15th November 2016, EVORA ran an important industry event considering the impact GRESB (the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) is having on the real estate industry. Over 60 attendees from more than 50 commercial real estate firms attended.

As a business that works solely with the real estate sector in providing practical sustainability solutions, EVORA has seen the meteoric rise of GRESB since its initiation six years ago. In fact, we have been working with GRESB and supporting our clients in the completion of the survey since 2011 – we are also a GRESB Premier Partner – and this year we were involved in the completion of 41 submissions. So it’s fair to say that GRESB is a subject that’s close to our hearts!

There is no doubt that GRESB has had a major impact in mobilizing the real estate industry to embrace the issues of sustainability. From its humble beginnings in 2010, 2016 saw 759 participants complete the survey representing US$2.8 trillion of asset value. However, the benchmark survey is complex and challenging to complete and GRESB pretty much has a monopoly in this area of benchmarking the sustainability performance of real estate portfolios.

There is no doubt that GRESB has had a major impact in mobilizing the real estate industry to embrace the issues of sustainability.Click To Tweet

And it was with this in mind, that we decided to run this exclusive invitation-only event, kindly hosted by TH Real Estate and chaired by Sarah Ratcliffe, Programme Director at the BBP, which considered ‘How Can GRESB Help to Deliver Fund Performance?’.

Great representation from industry leaders

We had five outstanding speakers from the industry, each with their own experiences and opinions of GRESB: Abigail Dean, Head of Sustainability at TH Real Estate; Dan Grandage, Head of Sustainability at Aberdeen Asset Management; Mathieu Elshout, Investment Director at PGGM; Erik Ruane, formerly Head of Development and Head of Sustainability at a leading pan-European, real estate fund management group; and last but by no means least, our own Paul Sutcliffe, co-Founder and Director at EVORA.

The results of our pre-event survey

Paul presented the results from our pre-event survey completed by the participants, which provided some interesting findings.

Firstly, the majority agreed that GRESB is both investor-driven and important to investors, which should be no surprise, since this was the original intention of GRESB.

Of greater note, was the far smaller proportion who thought their GRESB rating fairly reflected their sustainability performance and accurately reflected the key issues, highlighting that many respondents feel that greater alignment is required.

Do you think your GRESB rating fairly reflects your overall sustainability performance?Click To Tweet

EVORA - How Can GRESB Help to Deliver Fund Performance? Blog Image 3

Opinions of the Speakers

1. The Benefits

Paul kicked off by re-enforcing that GRESB is a force for good, driving change and focusing on participation. He also highlighted the alignment of the survey to a best practice management system approach (Plan/Do/Check/Act), which from our own experiences, support in driving performance – see our well-received thought leadership piece by Ed Gabbitas on this:

Environmental Management Systems: Plan-Do-Check-Act…Deliver?

Abigail highlighted that GRESB had pushed the industry to improve, whilst enhancing investor insight. Dan and Mathieu also said it supported fund strategy and post-performance evaluation, helping in year-on-year objective and target setting for the funds. Importantly, Erik highlighted that at a more practical level, GRESB had promoted wider utility data collection enabling the funds to better understand performance both at portfolio and asset level.

GRESB has promoted wider utility data collection enabling funds to better understand performance both at portfolio and asset level.Click To Tweet

2. The Challenges

What did the speakers see as the challenges? Paul and Abigail highlighted that scoring rewards the wrong behaviour by being more about coverage of data than efficient buildings, and year-on-year improvements rather than absolute performance. Another key issue was the risk of chasing GRESB points, which may not add value to the fund.

A consistent theme from all the presenters was that one size did not fit all, with specific reference to opportunistic and value add funds that can struggle to perform well in the survey, a key area Sander Paul of GRESB picked up on in the Q&A – keep reading!

EVORA - How Can GRESB Help to Deliver Fund Performance? Blog Image 2

A Lively Q&A Session

Presentations were followed by a lively Q&A discussion with a panel that included Sander Paul van Tongeren, Head of EMEA and co-founder of GRESB, and Olivia Muir, European Analyst at UBS. Olivia, highlighted from an investor perspective the importance of GRESB to provide a due diligence tool for the capital markets, but accepted that the GRESB performance data had to be re-worked to provide appropriate outputs.

EVORA - How Can GRESB Help to Deliver Fund Performance? Blog Image 4Our attendees heard it first! Exciting updates for 2018, direct from GRESB

Sander Paul agreed that one size fits all is not ideal. He advised 2017 would be a period of stability for the GRESB Real Estate Assessment with minor updates, but that there would be changes going forward. GRESB is exploring property type supplements, where ESG-performance would be aligned to the specific nuances of different property types, and potentially regional supplements as well.

New industry working groups will be set up in early 2017 to support in the development of the 2018 GRESB Real Estate Assessment.

However, he did highlight that GRESB also offers a Developer Assessment, which might be applicable to some of the opportunistic and value add funds that consider development activities to be their core business. It is a stand-alone assessment that contains a selection of questions from the Real Estate Assessment.

EVORA - How Can GRESB Help to Deliver Fund Performance? Blog Image 5Sander Paul also spoke of the importance of optimising property portfolios to reduce their environmental impacts to counter the significant risks of climate change. He expressed the need for disruptive technologies to help achieve this, including innovative software solutions, an area we have majored on with the development of our unique real estate focused sustainability management software, SIERA.

Comments were also made that the GRESB scoring had been opaque. Sander Paul advised that the GRESB validation process and scoring model is now available here, and also on their website.

The GRESB validation process and scoring model is now available on their website.Click To Tweet

A great wrap-up by Sarah Ratcliffe

In summing up, Sarah Ratcliffe provided a fantastic analogy of the evolution of GRESB, comparing it to a child growing up and currently being a teenager; slightly spotty, with a number of imperfections and a bit awkward, but with lots of potential!

I’d agree with this and I certainly do believe in GRESB’s potential. However, as an industry, the onus is upon us to ensure that GRESB not only transforms through mobilising the real estate sector, but also that the content – and hence the scoring – is absolutely aligned to material sustainability issues that can impact on fund performance both now and in the future.


This was an invitation-only event to those on our mailing list.

If you did not receive an invitation but would have liked to attend, please click here to join our mailing list now.


To talk to us about GRESB support in 2017, implementing an EMS, or to request a demo of SIERA, please get in touch.


Further reading:


GRESB also offers an ESG Masterclass which focuses on interpretation of the annual GRESB Real Estate Assessment results and the various reporting and benchmarking tools available to real estate investors, companies and fund managers. The program addresses all material aspects of ESG in real estate investment portfolios as covered by the GRESB Real Estate Assessment.

 

The Future of Sustainability In The Commercial Real Estate Sector

The Future of Sustainability In The Commercial Real Estate Sector: A Summary of the 7th Annual 40 Percent Symposium


Read this post if:

  • you had wanted to attend the Symposium but were not able to make it
  • you’d like a quick overview of the key points of discussion throughout the day
  • you heard something about the link between frothy beer and the value of data (?!)
  • you’re interested in the feedback of this year’s attendees
  • you’d like to express your interest in attending the next Symposium in April 2018

Introduction

On Thursday 3rd November, approximately 60 senior commercial real estate and sustainability professionals gathered at the Regent Hotel in Berlin for the 7th Annual 40 Percent Symposium.

Founded in 2011 by John Pike, the aim of the Symposium is to create a one-day, high-quality conference which gives delegates a complete overview of current sustainability issues as they affect commercial property both from an investor’s and occupier’s perspective.

joh-pike“To attend a 40 Percent Symposium is to join a committed and thoughtful audience of like-minded property and investment professionals who understand the need to deliver a sustainable future in property. The 2016 Symposium was our most successful event yet.”

John Pike, Founder and Managing Director, The 40 Percent Symposium

After having been held in London in 2015, this year saw the Symposium make a welcome return to Germany, where the event has always been held in high esteem, not least for the fact that it manages to attract attendees from a broader spread of countries.

This year, we were delighted to welcome attendees from more than 7 countries including the UK, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, The Netherlands and the USA, all eager to network with their peers and share best practices.


Keynote Address

“Let’s pay more attention to the optimisation of existing buildings’ energy performance…”

The day was kicked off by Martin Brühl, Managing Director of Union Investment and RICS Past President 2015/2016. Mr Brühl delivered a catchy keynote address in which he stressed the importance of optimising the energy performance of existing buildings in addition to the weight that is often placed on the credentials of new builds.

Martin Brühl“Today’s 40 Percent Symposium will mark one essential step towards making sustainability our business as usual… Each of us can contribute to that today, embed what we learn from others in our business routine and tell our clients about it. So our work is cut out and we must succeed. This should be an exciting day.”

Martin Brühl, Managing Director, Union Investment


The Outlook for Political Change in the CRE Sector

The first session of the day saw four experts exploring the following topics:

  • European Union carbon dioxide targets and an outlook on the corresponding regulation changes in Europe and Germany.
  • Thoughts on opportunities and challenges of green policy in the commercial real estate sector.
  • Market perspectives on landlord and tenant relationships and legal implications. Examples beyond pure regulation.
  • How to get tenants on board. Launch of a new sustainability survey to get feedback from real estate users.

The audience showed their engagement early on, with several questions to the panel on the social side of sustainability, including the UK’s Modern Slavery Act, on which one of our sustainability consultants, Louise Russell, has written this informative and well-received blog.

Attendees were also particularly keen to hear more about the work that ECE has done across its shopping centres, which includes collaborating with Philips to develop a new lightbulb.


Economics, Opportunities and Risks, from an Investor Perspective

Next up, these four experts delivered engaging presentations on the following topics:

  • The investors’ long-term risk: without green investment, performance improvement is not possible.
  • How does the enhancement of health and wellbeing in the built environment affect value in real estate?
  • How can the GRESB Assessment support the industry to optimise risk/return profiles of real asset investments?
  • Update on market value of green building certified assets in Europe.

The audience was particularly eager to ask as many questions as possible to Dr. Whitney Austin Gray, Executive Director of Research and Innovation at Delos, following her presentation on health and wellbeing. Health and wellbeing is a topic that is gaining ever more interest each week; is it ‘the next sustainability’?

GRESB was also discussed at length during the panel session and the networking breaks, with many attendees asking us about the support we have provided on multiple GRESB submissions through the combination of our consultancy expertise and our sustainability management software, SIERA.

kay-killman“I thoroughly enjoyed the 40 Percent Symposium, especially the well-balanced mix of investors, developers and other organizations.”

Kay Killman, President, German Green Building Association


Best Practice From Across Europe, Focusing on Innovation

The final session of the day, split into two parts, saw these seven speakers present on the following subject matter:

  • 2050 climate goals for apartment buildings built and realised in 2014.
  • Spondability: Sponda’s signature of responsibility, which takes economic, social and environmental aspects into consideration.
  • Creating green value.
  • How data delivers sustainable value.
  • Turning global challenges into business opportunities.
  • The underestimated energy saving potential: premature pump replacement in existing buildings.
  • Harnessing consumer power.

In many ways, this session is what the 40 Symposium is all about – attendees learning about best practices from their peers.

The audience remained highly engaged right up until the close of the final presentation, keen to learn more about everything from water pump replacements to how seriously Sponda, the Finnish real estate investment company, takes CSR measures.

It was also our chance to shine, with our Managing Director, Chris Bennett, delivering a highly entertaining presentation on the value of data to commercial real estate firms. If you’d like to learn more about the relationship between frothy beer and well-managed sustainability data, you’ll have to get in touch! To whet your appetite, you can watch a short clip of Chris’ presentation in the embedded Tweet below.

frank-rader“For my colleagues and I, this was a fantastic event; well organised and with top content. We had many interesting discussions!”

Frank Räder, Head of Customer Training, Grundfos


The 40 Percent Symposium Will Return in April 2018!

We’re delighted with how well this year’s Symposium was received by all attendees. So much so, in fact, that a placeholder date has already been set for the next one in April 2018!

Based on the excellent feedback of attendees saying that they valued being able to get to Berlin very easily and the opportunity to meet colleagues from all over Europe and beyond, the Symposium will once again be held in Berlin.

Here’s what our partner, Dr. Birgit Memminger-Rieve has to say:

birgitmemminger-rieveTo host the 40 Percent Symposium and bring it back to Germany as an international sustainability conference has been a great experience. Very many thanks to John Pike, who moderated the conference with ease and charm and to the EMA Events team that made sure that our schedule was followed with no delays. I’ve talked to a lot of attendees to get their feedback, which I’d like to summarize here.

The Regent Hotel was a great venue and everyone felt at ease during the day, enjoying and discussing versatile and interesting topics with great speakers from various countries. They say they appreciated having this international symposium in Berlin, giving them insight to the actual political framework, current sustainability studies, and best practice experiences. More practical examples would be good to learn about next time. They also emphasized the excellent networking opportunity during the breaks and at the drinks reception in the evening.

All in all, we’re looking forward to the next Symposium in April 2018.”

Dr. Birgit Memminger-Rieve, Managing Partner, ES EnviroSustain – German consultancy partner to EVORA


To register your interest in attending the next 40 Percent Symposium in Berlin in April 2018, click here now.


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