Australia Out in Front on Real Estate Sustainability

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Wednesday, September 14th, 2016
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Companies and investment funds who operate in the corporate real estate sector throughout Australia and New Zealand are leading their international peers in terms of practices designed to promote environmental management, social impact and governance and accountability practices, a new survey states.

Unveiling a new scorecard in which it assesses the performance of entities involved within the corporate real estate space against a range of criteria which are commonly seen to comprise the notion of corporate social responsibility, Netherlands-based industry body Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) said companies operating within Australia and New Zealand significantly outperformed their peers in other markets.

All up, entities throughout Australia and New Zealand achieved an overall average score or 74 points out of a possible score of 100 – four points above last year’s ranking of 70 and well above the international average of 60.

Companies throughout Australia performed well in areas such as management, identifying risks and opportunities, policy and disclosure, stakeholder engagement and monitoring and energy management systems.

In terms of environmental performance, companies throughout Australia had continued to drive strong improvement throughout 2016, slashing carbon emissions, energy usage and water consumption by 5.4 per cent, two per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively.

Carbon management performance is especially impressive, with a strong majority of companies including undertaking proactive actions such as having data management systems in place, including carbon emissions in environmental, social and governance policies, incorporating carbon emissions into due diligence practices, reporting on carbon emissions data and having carbon emissions targets in place.

Strong improvements are also being made in terms of the reporting of carbon intensity data and having reviews of carbon emissions data carried out by an external party.

Australian and New Zealand entities are also well ahead in terms of their efforts with regard to stakeholder engagement. Companies throughout Australia and New Zealand outperform their international counterparts in terms of engagement strategies with tenants, employees and the supply chain. There are, however, opportunities for further improvement with regard to strategies of engagement with consumers, GRESB said.

In its report, GRESB lauded the region’s commitment to sustainability, collaboration and knowledge sharing.

“Companies and funds in Australia and New Zealand are competitive, yet they also are unusually open to exchanging experiences and insights,” the report said.

“Competitors frequently work together to address new issues. For instance, firms in Sydney recently worked together to tackle the intractable issue of operational solid waste generation. At the same time, the sector regards superior ESG performance as a proxy for quality – both at the asset and manager level. Collaboration and competition help drive the region’s companies and funds to higher levels of performance and support its global leadership year-after-year.”

Within the Australian and New Zealand markets, GBESB said Lend Lease took out the top spot for the sustainability of its retail and office (private) portfolios. Dexus took out the top spot for listed office trusts and Stockland rated best for its diversified retail and office funds.

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