Australian property companies have recorded a continuous ten-year run at the top of the global GRESB Real Estate Assessment ranking in 2020.

Green Building Council Australia (GBCA) CEO Davina Rooney says Australia continued to set the benchmark internationally for environmental, social and governance (ESG) outcomes in real estate and development.

“Even in this most challenging of years, our region has continued to outperform every other part of the world,” Rooney says.

“I commend Australia’s property companies for a decade of global real estate sustainability leadership. 

“Their commitment, innovation and relentless drive to continuously raise the ESG bar are helping to spur a worldwide transformation of the built sector to the sustainable net-zero emissions future we urgently need.

“We see the positive impacts of Australia’s efforts on the rest of the world in this year’s results which show the gap narrowing between Oceania, Asia and Europe, as well as a marked increase in participation.

“Most importantly, this year’s GRESB results reveal a 3% drop in global GHG emissions, demonstrating the power of our sector to make a material contribution to mitigating the impacts of climate change.”

Participation in the 2020 Assessment grew by 22% to cover 1,229 portfolios (2019: 1,005) worth more than USD $4.8 trillion AUM.

In 2020 the average score for Oceania was 77, ostensibly down on the 2019 score of 80.9 however, GRESB has noted that changes in this year’s reporting structure and scoring weights make it difficult to draw detailed comparisons with previous years.

Under the new arrangements, the average GRESB Score fell to 70 (2019: 72) with the Asian real estate coming in second with 72, followed by Europe at 69.5, slightly ahead of the Americas at 69.

Fundamental changes to the assessment process for 2020 included implementing a long-planned restructuring and mandatory asset-level data reporting to improve data quality, as well as a Review Period.

While stating that these changes were necessary to improve the quality of the benchmark and retain its relevance for the years to come, GRESB has also acknowledged some significant difficulties during operationalisation which adversely impacted the effective delivery of the 2020 Real Estate Results.

“A transparent, robust and clear global sustainability benchmark whose results can be simply communicated is an important tool for real estate companies, and investors, in transitioning to a more sustainable footing,” Ms Rooney said.

“GBCA looks forward to working with GRESB under its recently announced new ownership and governance structure to improve the assessment process for 2021.

“As Chair of the Australia Benchmark Committee, GBCA’s Head of Market Transformation Jorge Chapa will lend his considerable expertise to overseeing the development and maintenance of the Standards.

“GBCA is excited to continue our support for Australian property companies through many industry partnerships and initiatives and as part of the World Green Building Council network.

“The rollout of our new rating tools, which commenced last month with the launch of our new Green Star Buildings tool requiring a building to be fully electric, fossil-fuel-free and 100% powered by renewables, will help Australia retain the mantle of world’s best.”

Roxana Isaiu, Director Real Estate at GRESB, said: “While we still have many challenges to overcome on our way to a more sustainable future, it’s inspiring to see this collective commitment to ESG transparency and collaboration from across the global real estate industry.”