Posts

GRESB 2019: Are you ready for the portal to open?

With just two weeks until the GRESB portal opens for 2019, the EVORA consultancy team is gearing up for our eighth year supporting clients through their GRESB Real Estate Survey submissions. We are experts in GRESB and that is why at least 80 funds have put their faith in us to manage their submission.

GRESB is by no means a walk in the park, that said with sufficient preparation and ensuring the right stakeholders are engaged from the beginning there is no reason why the process should not be straightforward. EVORA provides clients with an end-to-end service to take the pain out of GRESB.

Top Tips for a smooth journey through GRESB 2019

  1. Start [and aim to finish] early.
  2. At the start of the process and if you responded last year, remind yourself what went well and less well during the 2018 submission – consider both the process and individual question responses.
  3. Review changes to the survey questions (available from mid-February) and the guidance/scoring document (available from 1st March), as soon as they are released. Review these changes in the context of your entity/entities and its/their ability to maintain/improve GRESB scores. These changes may also create possible logistical challenges in gathering the necessary evidence and data in time for survey completion – so the earlier the better!
  4. Engage and educate those that will support you in delivering GRESB. Keep in regular touch with them throughout the process to make sure everyone is on track and is aware of their responsibilities.
  5. Although the survey closes on the 1st July, 5% of all submissions are selected for a Validation Plus interview so there is still a chance you may be called upon. The interview is a detailed review of your responses and the supporting evidence provided. Validation takes place from 1st June – 31st July.
  6. Automate data collection – Our propriety software, SIERA, delivered 65 GRESB submissions in 2018, helping clients to seamlessly acquire and report asset-level sustainability data into the GRESB portal.
  7. Seek external support/advice – Our team of sustainability consultants are experts in sustainability, real estate and [most relevantly] GRESB.

And lastly, GRESB 2020 will come around quickly. The results are released in early September and it is worthwhile putting some time aside to digest them. However, if you can’t wait that long, we provide clients with indicative scoring ahead of submission. This helps with future planning and managing expectations on current scoring.

We work with our clients to put in place a roadmap that aligns with their ESG strategy and which will enable them to continue to improve their GRESB score in the following and future years. If you’d like to speak to a member of the team, please contact us.

Download our GRESB eBook here.

GRESB 2019 pre-release: a review of the tweaks and refinements

GRESB has broadly taken a “don’t fix what ain’t broke” approach to the 2019 survey, with the pre-release revealing that only minor changes to the reporting framework have been made from last year.

This is perhaps a sign that, after ten years of development, GRESB are settling on a long-term formula for the majority of the questionnaire. This consistency will enable real estate funds and sustainability professionals to focus more on delivering improvement programmes and less on dealing with shifting reporting expectations, thereby maximising the benefit that GRESB participation will bring about.

Steps have also been taken to reduce reporting burden, with evidence requirements removed from ME2 (data management system) and SE8.1 (tenant satisfaction surveys) where past evidence acceptance rates were high. While EVORA generally supports attempts to reduce reporting burden, removing evidence requirements is potentially an integrity risk, particularly in this instance regarding SE8.1. Open text boxes removed from RO5/6/7 (implemented measures), PI1.2/2.2/3.2 (intensity calculations) and NC7.2 (net zero buildings) where the information was not considered to be adding sufficient value for the effort required.

While EVORA generally supports attempts to reduce reporting burden, removing evidence requirements is potentially an integrity risk

Despite the pursuit of consistency, GRESB is still recognising the real estate industry’s shifting goalposts by introducing two two-part questions to the stakeholder engagement section (SE12 and SE13) on the implementation of programmes for the promotion and improvement of health & wellbeing. These are at organisation (i.e. your employees) and asset level respectively. A selection of other references to health & wellbeing has also been introduced throughout the survey, acknowledging the growing importance of this theme in real estate.

The Resilience Module is also entering its second year, and we await further details of this with intrigue. This topic continues to gain significant momentum amongst our clients and in the industry as a whole, and we expect GRESB will acknowledge this through its updates to the Module and the subsequent introduction to the main survey in the coming years.

If anything, I would argue that it’s the “checked” and “verified” categories that could be merged

Perhaps the most controversial change to the Survey is that “verification” and “assurance” of data will be scored equally. Having been through the assurance process with clients in the past, I can vouch that it is extremely thorough and, in my view, warrants the additional points it receives. If anything, I would argue that it’s the “checked” and “verified” categories that could be merged, as the lines of definition between these two are generally more blurred.

Overall, EVORA supports GRESB’s approach of striving for consistency whilst acknowledging new industry themes, and we look forward to continuing to drive innovation and transformation through its delivery in 2019.


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.

Contact us to see how we can help you.

GRESB 2019: What are your limiting factors?

It feels like not too long ago, the GRESB reporting season reached its climax and our consultants breathed a sigh of relief, dubbing last year as one of our busiest GRESB periods yet.

Ironically, it’s set to get even busier for us this year with our team expected to support close to 90 submissions, quite a leap from the 70 submissions we supported on last year.

But how do we manage to accurately support all these submissions you may ask?


EVORA has had a close working relationship with GRESB over the last six years and has been supporting clients with the survey ever since. The depth of experience we’ve gained over this time enables us to support first-class submissions for our clients. To a large extent, our efforts are powered by our proprietary sustainability software, SIERA, which seamlessly transfers data into the GRESB portal reducing what we well know is a time-intensive process.

Getting outstanding results (where targeted), which is the much coveted five-star rating, comes with being recognised as an industry leader and speaks highly of you to investors and stakeholders. However, to achieve GRESB success we often find that there are limiting factors that can hold participants back from reaching their end goal.

With our experience in supporting clients right from the early stages through to market leadership, we seek to address common limiting factors that get in the way of achieving high GRESB ratings.

Have you identified areas where you can improve scoring opportunities?

“It’s the little things that matter!”

To bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be, spend some time reviewing/analysing last year’s scores and define an action plan for this year’s survey aligned with your fund’s sustainability strategy and objectives. If this is your first GRESB assessment, consider each of the sustainability aspects within the survey and review the availability of sustainability performance data such as utility data, technical audits, and stakeholder engagement programmes. Allocate roles and responsibilities within the business, a timeline for completion and track progress.

Don’t forget to review changes to the survey questions within the pre-release document, which is available now!

Is there a coordinated approach within the organisation for submitting supporting evidence?

As we well know, a lot of supporting evidence that broadly covers ESG (Environmental Social & Governance) topics is required throughout the survey. It gets even trickier if you have an international portfolio and you work with multiple stakeholders.

Put a structure in place for collating and preparing evidence required early! Engage with internal and external stakeholders to ensure they understand what is required of them to ensure a smooth submission process.

Are there efficient processes in place for collating and submitting PI (performance indicators) data?

Collating asset level data can be quite a challenge for organisations with large portfolios, however, the PI aspect of GRESB accounts for 25.6% of the overall marks; the highest weighting of all seven aspects.

As we always say, focus on transparency, quality, and automation as much as possible. For example, with our software SIERA, we support clients to collate asset level data, provide verification, analyse and support submissions.

To provide an even more streamlined process to the GRESB survey we are set to release exciting updates to our SIERA software prior to April 2019 – keep your eyes peeled.

How would you respond to new ESG trends included within the survey this year?

The GRESB 2019 survey includes select questions from the previously optional Health & Wellbeing module. Prepare in advance by studying the pre-release document which sets out the key changes and will let you draw up an approach your organisation may take in responding to these. Keeping an eye on the weighting will help you to take a strategic view when identifying key focus areas for GRESB 2019.

Health and wellbeing is a broad topic and as such we recommend you engage with a variety of key stakeholders (considering internal programmes and what’s happening within your portfolio) to draw out key considerations. This could be across health, safety, crime, wellbeing, accessibility and inclusivity.

Implement a monitoring procedure which you can easily report on, that reflects these activities such as tenant satisfaction surveys, IEQ (Indoor Environmental Quality) assessments etc.

Final thoughts

With each limiting factor that you eliminate, you accelerate the rate at which you progress towards enhanced fund performance and GRESB success. EVORA can offer advice on overcoming any of these factors that are limiting your potential.

Read our GRESB eBook here for a comprehensive guide on how to prepare your assets and portfolio for success in the GRESB 2019 reporting cycle.

To make it easy on yourself and others, get in touch and our team of experts will be happy to help.

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 see ativan online https://ativanusa.com/ best sleeping pills ativan 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.