Australia has maintained its top ranking in the 2019 GRESB Real Estate Assessment for the ninth year running, while also achieving the highest score to date to set a new world record.

GRESB is the global benchmark for environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of real assets, defining and measuring standards for sustainability performance. In 2019, GRESB assessed a record 1,005 property companies, REITs, funds and developers, comprising more than 100,000 assets worth in excess of AUD $6 trillion.

Australia’s score of 81 was the highest to date as the country also improved upon last year’s top score of 76; the global average climbed to 72 from 68 in 2018.

Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) CEO Davina Rooney said Australian companies were providing global leadership and continued to raise the sustainability bar.

“Australian property companies have set a new benchmark in this year’s GRESB results for outstanding sustainability performance,” Rooney said.

“Having provided global leadership from their position at the top of the international rankings for nine years now, these companies have continued to innovate, to work even harder and to achieve even better results.

“The voluntary industry-led tools and initiatives we deploy in partnership with our members, like the Carbon Positive Road map and independent Green Star certification, support Australia’s property companies in their pursuit of new levels of sustainability excellence.

“That’s why we continue to evolve our rating tools, as we are currently doing through Green Star - Future Focus, to ensure they keep pace with the new heights industry is scaling, while also broadening accessibility so more companies can realise the benefits strong ESG performance delivers.”

Rooney adds that GRESB’s standardised reporting and measurement gives companies, investors and governments a clear picture on progress, which helps them focus efforts to meet their climate goals.

Notwithstanding the overall strong improvements in performance, more is needed to meet key global goals and achieve the transition to a low-carbon, resilient and more sustainable future. GRESB noted a slowdown in the rate of like-for-like GHG emissions, meaning it will not be enough to meet the 1.5-degree target set out by the Paris Climate Agreement.

“Even in the face of present challenges, we remain optimistic because of the breadth and depth of the sustainability ecosystem that has grown up since the inaugural Real Estate Assessment in 2009. Looking back, it has been a remarkable decade of movement building that has laid the groundwork for exponential progress to be made in 2020-2050,” says Roxana Isaiu, director Real Estate at GRESB.

Scott Mosely, managing director of Lendlease Funds Management Australia says: “GRESB provides Lendlease and our investors with an independent assessment of sustainability performance as we track emerging environmental, social and governance trends as part of our investment strategies. For example, human health and wellness, as well as climate change resilience, are growing trends now being tracked by GRESB.”

Rod Fehring, CEO of Frasers Property Australia, says: “GRESB, underpinned by Green Star, provides an appropriately rigorous framework for continuous improvement in the design, delivery and operation of the properties we create, on our way to a decarbonised built environment and socially, environmentally and economically resilient communities.”

Dexus CEO Darren Steinberg says: “Our strong sustainability performance is a result of the effective integration of ESG factors across our business operations to manage risk and generate long-term value for Dexus and our third party capital partners.”

David Yates, executive general manager, Sustainability at Dexus says: “We have consistently delivered on what we set out to achieve when it comes to our sustainability targets and have already progressed our 2030 net zero emissions target.

“Our ambitious 2030 target, combined with our continued focus on improving energy efficiency and enhancing our customers’ experience, all contributed to our GRESB results this year.”

GRESB’s global leaders for Australia:

Overall Global Sector Leaders (Achieved highest score for its sector)

Office – Private: Australian Prime Property Fund Commercial, Lendlease

Retail – Private: Australian Prime Property Fund Retail, Lendlease

Diversified - Office/Retail – Private: Dexus Wholesale Property Fund, Dexus Property Group

Developer – Residential: Frasers Property Australia Pty Ltd - Development Assets, Frasers Property Australia Pty Ltd

Developer – Industrial: Goodman Group (GMG), Goodman Group

Global Sector Leaders (Achieved highest score for the combination of nature of ownership and sector)

Office – Listed: Dexus Office Trust, Dexus Property Group

Industrial – Listed: Frasers Logistics & Industrial Trust, Frasers Logistics & Industrial Asset Management Pte Ltd

Diversified - Office/Industrial – Private: Frasers Property Australia Pty Ltd - Investment Properties, Frasers Property Australia Pty Ltd

Diversified - Office/Retail – Listed: Stockland

GBCA member Sekisui House Reit, Inc., Sekisui House Asset Management, Ltd. also achieved Asian Regional Sector Leader status in Diversified - Office/Residential.