By Grey Lee

The power of data:

The Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) was created in 2009 by a team of economists and statisticians from the Netherlands. Co-founded by Nils Kok at the University of Maastricht, GRESB was developed as a way for asset managers to more complexly assess real estate assets to uncover greater territories of value for owners.

GRESB is a process – not a certification, not an analysis, but a process of assessment which enables the multi-faceted aspects of property to be tracked over time in greater detail than has ever been done before. Through the GRESB process, an asset is rated in a new way, and the management entity is evaluated in a new way, which creates new data about the underlying asset. With this data, and with the identification of component processes, asset managers can see into real estate and how non-financial aspects affect their financial performance.


Yesterday evening, EnerNOC hosted a discussion and networking event with Boston commercial real estate developers and investors, featuring a presentation and conversation centering around GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) data. GRESB is committed to assessing the sustainability performance of real-estate portfolios around the globe. This useful tool encourages better management, more action and improving outcomes.

COO Chris Pyke presented recent survey data, highlighting global trends and explaining their impact on investors, GRESB survey participants, and the green building market. The 707 Participants–whose institutional capital represents $2.3 trillion of property value–have made many great strides in sustainability since 2014. The in-depth survey focuses on 7 thematic targets. This survey impressively revealed an average improvement from GRESB participants in each category:

Management: 96% have a specific person with responsibility for implementing sustainability objectives
Disclosure & Assurance: 92% report having specific sustainability objectives
Tenant & Community Engagement: 60% now have best-practice lease clauses 
Health and Well-Being: 84% increase in new construction measures to support health and well-being
Climate Risk & Resilience: -3.04% reduction in GHG emissions
Water & Waste: -1.65% decrease in water use
Energy: -2.87% reduction in energy consumption

Of the 155 North American participants in this globally diversified survey, the highest-ranking REIT on the East Coast was Boston Properties, which was represented in the event Q&A by Amy Gindel, SVP of Finance & Planning, and Ben Myers, Sustainability Manager and USGBC Board member. Dan Winters, Head of N. America for GRESB, asked panelists to elaborate on the value of GRESB data for Boston Properties' sustainability goals. They emphasized the importance of a comprehensive plan initiated from the top-level management. Jon Hartnett, EnerNOC's Commercial Real Estate Team Lead, detailed how the EnerNOC – Boston Properties' partnership helped developers and engineers immediately realize the impact of their efforts.

In summary: GRESB data provides participants and investors with evidence-based, actionable targets to increase real estate asset values. Check out for more information, and to download the full 2015 report.

Thank you to Dan Winters and Chris Pyke for coming up from Washington DC to present, and to Lisa Park and the team at EnerNOC for hosting this great event!

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