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2019

Real Estate

Assessment

Contents

Disclaimer: 2019 GRESB Real Estate Assessment

The 2019 GRESB Real Estate Assessment Document accompanies the 2019 GRESB Real Estate Assessment and is published both as a standalone document and in the GRESB Portal alongside each Assessment indicator. The Assessment Document reflects the opinions of GRESB and not of our members. The information in the Assessment Document has been provided in good faith and is provided on an “as is” basis. We take reasonable care to check the accuracy and completeness of the Assessment Document prior to its publication. While we do not anticipate major changes, we reserve the right to make modifications to the Assessment Document. We will publicly announce any such modifications. The Assessment Document is not provided as the basis for any professional advice or for transactional use. GRESB and its advisors, consultants and sub-contractors shall not be responsible or liable for any advice given to third parties, any investment decisions or trading or any other actions taken by you or by third parties based on information contained in the Assessment Document. Except where stated otherwise, GRESB is the exclusive owner of all intellectual property rights in all the information contained in the Assessment Document.

Introduction

About GRESB

GRESB is the environmental, social and governance (ESG) benchmark for real assets. Working in collaboration with the industry, GRESB defines the global standard for sustainability performance in real assets providing standardized and validated ESG data to more than 75 institutional investors, representing over USD 18 trillion in institutional capital.

For more information, visit gresb.com. Follow @GRESB on Twitter.

Overview of GRESB Assessments

GRESB Real Estate Assessment

The GRESB Real Estate Assessment is the global standard for ESG benchmarking and reporting for listed property companies, private property funds, developers and investors that invest directly in real estate. The Assessment evaluates performance against 7 Sustainability Aspects, including information on performance indicators, such as energy, GHG emissions, water and waste. The methodology is consistent across different regions, investment vehicles and property types and aligns with international reporting frameworks, such as GRI and PRI.

The GRESB Real Estate Assessment provides investors with actionable information and tools to monitor and manage the ESG risks and opportunities of their investments, and to prepare for increasingly rigorous ESG obligations. Assessment participants receive comparative business intelligence on where they stand against their peers, a roadmap with the actions they can take to improve their ESG performance and a communication platform to engage with investors.

GRESB Developer Assessment

In addition to the GRESB Real Estate Assessment for property companies and fund managers that focus on themanagement of standing investments, GRESB provides a stand-alone GRESB Developer Assessment to evaluate the ESG performance of organizations that focus on development activities. The Developer Assessment focuses on policies, strategies, and measurable actions related to new construction and major renovation projects. It contains a subset of indicators from the GRESB Real Estate Assessment, plus the 14 indicators in the New Construction & Major Renovations (NC&MR) Aspect.

The GRESB Developer Assessment is designed for:

GRESB Public Disclosure

GRESB Public Disclosure evaluates the level of ESG disclosure by listed property companies and REITs. The evaluation is based on a set of indicators aligned with the GRESB Real Estate Assessment, allowing for a comparison of ESG disclosure performance between GRESB participants and non-participants. It also provides investors with a resource hub to access ESG disclosure documents across their full investment portfolio.

GRESB Public Disclosure data is initially collected by the GRESB team for selected companies, including both 2018 GRESB Real Estate Assessment participants and non-participants. All constituents have the opportunity to review and update this data before it becomes accessible to GRESB Investor Members. GRESB Public Disclosure consists of four Aspects: Governance of Sustainability, Implementation, Operational Performance and Stakeholder Engagement. Together, these Aspects contribute towards a Public Disclosure Level, expressed through an A to E sliding scale.

(Real Estate and Infrastructure) Supplement: Resilience

The GRESB Resilience Module is an optional supplement to the GRESB Real Estate and Infrastructure Assessments. It evaluates how real estate and infrastructure companies and funds are preparing for potentially disruptive events and changing conditions, assessing long-term trends, and becoming more resilient over time.

The Module is motivated by two key factors:

(Real Estate) Supplement: Nareit Leader in the Light

GRESB works in close collaboration with the National Association of Real Estate Investments Trusts (Nareit), a GRESB Industry Partner. Nareit encourages its corporate members to complete the annual GRESB Real Estate Assessments, which, for the past six years, has been the basis for their annual Leader in the Light Award competition. The Leader in the Light Awards are presented to REITs in eight property sectors: Diversified, Global (for non-U.S. companies), Health Care, Industrial, Lodging/Resorts, Office, Residential and Retail. If there are both large and small cap entries that meet the awards criteria in a given property sector, awards are presented to both the leading large and small cap companies. To participate in the Leader in the Light Award program, Nareit members must complete both the GRESB Real Estate Assessment and the Leader in the Light Supplement. Once all sections of the GRESB Real Estate Assessment are completed, including the Leader in the Light Supplement, participants are able to submit their entire submission which will automatically be included in the Leader in the Light Award competition.

GRESB Infrastructure Assessment

The GRESB Infrastructure Assessment provides the basis for the systematic assessment, objective scoring, and peer benchmarking of the ESG performance of infrastructure investments. The Assessment provides infrastructure investors with actionable information and the tools they need to accurately monitor and manage the sustainability risks of their assets, and to prepare for increasingly rigorous ESG obligations

The GRESB Infrastructure Assessment has an initial focus on operating investments, infrastructure assets, companies and funds and covers a variety of infrastructure sectors, including:

Assessment participants receive comparative business intelligence on where they stand against their peers, a roadmap with the actions they can take to improve their ESG performance and a communication platform to engage with investors.

The role of the GRESB benchmark

GRESB’s global benchmark uses a consistent methodology to compare performance across different regions, investment vehicles and property types. This consistency, combined with our broad market coverage, means our members and participants can apply a single, globally recognized ESG framework to all their real estate investments.

The GRESB Real Estate Assessment is structured around seven aspects and contains approximately 55 indicators. The indicators follow a plan-do-check-act logic and are designed to encompass the wide variety of property companies and funds included in the benchmark.

GRESB results provide a practical way to understand ESG performance and communicate that performance to investors and other stakeholders. GRESB provides overall scores of ESG performance - such as the GRESB Score and GRESB Ratings - as well as detailed aspect-level and individual indicator-level assessments of performance. The key to analyzing GRESB data is in peer group comparisons that take into account country, regional, sectoral and investment type variations. This richer analysis enables fund managers and companies to understand their results in the context of their investment strategies and communicate this to their investors.

GRESB is committed to facilitating the use of its ESG metrics in investment decision-making processes and encouraging an active dialogue between investors, fund managers and companies on ESG issues. GRESB updates its Investor Member Guidance on an annual basis to assist GRESB Investor Members in their engagement with managers.

2019 Participation Fee

Participants can choose to submit the Assessment as a non-member and pay a nominal participation fee or submit the Assessment as a GRESB Member. Participation is free of charge for first-time participants and for companies and funds headquartered in non-OECD countries. GRESB Members, in addition to the benefits received by participants, have access to more advanced analytical tools and services as well as preferential marketing, industry recognition, and networking opportunities.

Additional information about the 2019 participation fee is available here.

Timeline and Process

The GRESB Real Estate Assessment opens in the Assessment Portal on April 1, 2019. The submission deadline is July 1, 2019, providing participants with a three-month window to complete the Assessment. This is a fixed deadline, and GRESB will not accept submissions received after this date.

The GRESB validation process starts on June 15 and continues until July 31, 2019. We may need to contact you during this time to clarify any issues with your response.

Results are published in September and are distributed as follows:

For an overview of key dates and activities for the 2019 Assessment cycle, please see the Assessment timeline.

Response Check

A Response Check is a high-level check of the Assessment response prior to final submission. It helps to reduce errors that may adversely impact the Assessment results and ensures the submission is as complete as possible.

The Response Check is available for request from April 1 to June 1, 2019 (midnight, Pacific time) subject to available resources. We strongly encourage participants to place their request as early as possible.

Fund Manager and Company Members are able to request a complimentary Response Check for one entity as a membership benefits.

Guidance & Support

The Assessment Portal includes indicator-specific guidance, available under the “Guidance” tab that explains:

In addition to the guidance in the Portal, each Assessment is accompanied by a Reference Guide. The Reference Guide provides introductory information on the Assessments and a report-format version of the indicator-by-indicator guidance that is available under the Guidance tab in the Portal. The Reference Guide will be available on March 1, 2019.

The GRESB Assessment Portal has the following tools and functionality to help ensure an efficient and accurate submission:

GRESB works with a select group of Partners who can help participants with their Assessment submission. To learn more about the services offered by GRESB Partners, take a look at our Partner Directory.

Participants are able to contact the GRESB Helpdesk at any time for support and guidance.

GRESB Assessment Training Program

GRESB Real Estate Assessment Training is designed to help participants, potential participants and other GRESB stakeholders (managers, consultants, data partners) improve their ESG reporting through the GRESB Real Estate Assessment.

The training is divided into two sessions – Introductory and Advanced – to reflect the level of experience with GRESB.

Both programs are delivered via face-to-face group sessions, in select locations across all regions with GRESB participation, including Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. See dates and locations for 2019 GRESB Assessment Training.

About the 2019 GRESB Real Estate Reference Guide

This Guide accompanies the 2019 GRESB Real Estate Assessment (referred to as “the Assessment”). Guidance is included for all Assessment indicators that comprise GRESB Real Estate’s seven aspects, plus the Assessment indicators addressing New Construction & Major Renovations. This Guide provides:

This Guide should provide all the basic information needed to complete the 2019 Assessment. If you need additional help, please contact the GRESB Helpdesk at any time for support and guidance.

Who can see my data?

Data is submitted to GRESB through a secure online platform and can only be seen by current GRESB Staff or authorized personnel from GRESB’s parent company, i.e, GBCI, Inc. (“GBCI”). GRESB benchmark scores are not made public. Data collected through the GRESB Real Estate Assessment is only disclosed to the participants themselves and:

No other third parties will see the data. GRESB Investor Members must request access to a participants' Benchmark results and scores, allowing the participant the control to either accept or deny this request.

Documentation provided as evidence can be made available to GRESB Real Estate Investor Members on a document by document basis. Each uploaded document has a checkbox (with the default set to ‘not available’) which, when selected by the participant, makes this evidence available to all investors with access to that entity. It is not possible to choose a subset of investors which you would like to share the documents for.

GRESB has developed a number of tools to assist participants with the collection and aggregation of asset level data that is required to complete certain aspects of the Assessment. Property companies and funds are encouraged to use the asset level tools to streamline data flows, and to increase data quality. The asset level data provided to GRESB is strictly confidential and will only be used for aggregation to portfolio level. No individual asset level information will be disclosed to participants’ investors.

As a default, GRESB does not disclose a participant’s data to other participants. For listed entities, the entity name is disclosed in the Benchmark Report, as well as the entity names of listed peer group constituents. For non-listed entities, only the fund manager’s name is disclosed, as well as the fund manager’s name of private peer group constituents.

GRESB provides an opt-in option that will disclose the entity’s name (public) or fund manager’s name (private), as well as the scores for the two dimensions (Management & Policy and Implementation & Measurement), to participants in the peer group that also opted to disclose their name and dimension scores.

Grace Period

GRESB offers participants reporting for the first time the option to not disclose their first-year Assessment results to their investors. This "Grace Period" allows companies and funds a year to familiarize themselves with the GRESB reporting and assessment process without externally disclosing their results to GRESB Investor Members.

While Grace Period participant names are disclosed to GRESB Investor Members, Investor Members are not able to request access to Grace Period participant results

The participation fee is waived for Grace Period participants reporting to GRESB for the first time. Participants will receive a GRESB Scorecard and have the opportunity to purchase a Benchmark Report for a more in-depth analysis of sustainability performance and a detailed indicator-level comparison with peers.

First-time participants wishing to opt for the Grace Period can select the option from the settings section in the Assessment Portal.

Participant tools

The following tools help participants with the submission process:

In 2019, you can use the online GRESB Asset Portal or a data partner system to upload asset level data for the following indicators:

Who can see my asset level data?

The asset level data provided to GRESB is strictly confidential and will only be used for aggregation to portfolio level. No individual asset level information will be disclosed to participants’ investors.

Why does GRESB ask for asset level data?

The main driver for asset level reporting is to improve investor confidence in data quality. In addition, it enables us to provide participants with additional insights into the impact of their ESG programs, the basis for and paves the way for more tailored assessments in the future. GRESB data quality page

Does GRESB fully comply with GDPR?

We do. You can check the GRESB Privacy Statement here. We also have specific internal policies, such as our Data Breach Policy and our Data Protection Policy, related to GDPR that we cannot share externally for security reasons. Please note that asset level data does not fall under the incidence of GDPR because it does not contain any personal data.

Cybersecurity. What steps have GRESB taken to prevent unauthorized access to asset level data?

We hired an expert to review all of our data security measures and systems. No issues were flagged. Our website, as well as the GRESB Portal are fully HTTPS/TLS encrypted. We have strict and extensive policies on data security that we cannot share externally for security reasons. Our public policies can be accessed here.

GRESB Real Estate Assessment and Reference Guide Structure

Allocation to E, S, G

Each indicator is allocated to one of the three sustainability dimensions (E- environmental; S- social; G- governance):

Assessment indicator structure

Every indicator in the 2019 Assessment can be answered with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and in some cases with ‘Not applicable’. If ‘Yes’ is selected, the participant has the option to further classify the response by selecting one or more sub-options.

Participants should select all sub-options that accurately describe the entity and for which the entity can provide evidence. If ‘No’ or ‘Not applicable’ is selected, the participant may not select any additional sub-options. A 'Not Applicable' answer is interpreted and scored in the same way as a “No” and will yield 0 points. GRESB has marked each indicator to reflect whether it has been amended or is new, by providing the indicator number in orange.

Evidence

Selected indicators in the Assessment require supporting evidence. Evidence is information that can be used to validate the overall answer to the indicator and support any additionally selected criteria. GRESB does not have a prescriptive standard for evidence, rather the expectation is that a validator with reasonable domain expertise can review the evidence and find support for the overall indicator response and selected answer options. This means that the uploaded evidence should clearly reference the answer options selected by the participant. The evidence should not require extensive interpretation or inference, and participants are strongly encouraged to provide the simplest evidence that supports their claim.

It is the responsibility of the reporting entity to provide clear and concise information that can be easily found and understood by the validator. The validator will reject claimed answers or selected answer options not supported by clear evidence.

Hyperlink

If a hyperlink (or deep link) is provided, ensure that the relevant page can be accessed within two steps. Ideally, the landing page should contain all the information needed to validate the answer. In order to qualify as valid supporting evidence, the evidence provided must demonstrate the existence of the relevant topic relating to each of the criteria selected. The participant has the obligation to ensure that the hyperlink is functioning. Broken links are the responsibility of the participant and will be interpreted as the absence of evidence. Hyperlinks can only be provided if indicated. In all other instances, the actual document should be uploaded, or the document name and publication date should be provided. Hyperlinks in uploaded documents will not be checked.

Languages

Your Assessment response must be submitted in English. Documents uploaded as supporting evidence do not need to be entirely translated. However, a thorough summary of the content, sufficient to convey that each requirement has been met, should be provided in English.

GRESB intends to translate the 2019 GRESB Real Estate Assessment in to Japanese.

For other languages, the GRESB assessment portal can be translated by using “Google translate” via the Google Chrome web browser. This applies to the assessment portal , guidance notes and online version of the reference guide.

How to use Google Translate

Turn translation on

You can control whether Chrome will offer to translate web pages.

Disclaimer

Please note that not all text may be translated accurately or be translated at all. GRESB is not responsible for incorrect or inaccurate translations. GRESB will not be held responsible for any damage or issues that may result from using Google Translate.

Open text boxes

Over the years, the number of scored open text boxes has been reduced in an effort to shift focus from management to implementation. GRESB distinguishes between open text boxes:

Each type of text box is clearly marked in the Assessment.

"Other" answer

Some indicators offer the opportunity to provide an alternative answer option (‘Other’). These other answers must stand outside of the options listed in the question. It is possible to add multiple other answers, however scores will not be aggregated. All answers are validated as part of the data validation process.

Indicator-specific guidance

The indicator-specific guidance contains:

Reporting period

Answers must refer to the reporting period identified in EC3 in the Real Estate Assessment. A response to an indicator must be true at the close of the reporting period; however, the response does not need to have been true for the entire reporting period. GRESB does not favour the use of calendar year over fiscal year or viceversa, as long as the chosen reporting period is used consistently throughout the Assessment.

Reporting level

Assessment questions are asked at three levels. When a participating entity is part of a larger investment management organization or group of companies (the ‘Organization’), GRESB directs some indicators to be answered either:

Organization Level: These indicators do not need to relate specifically to the entity for which you are submitting an Assessment response. Instead, if the entity is part of an investment management organization or group of companies, your response may relate to the Organization.

Organization Level applicable to Entity Level: These indicators require you to respond at entity level but, if the entity is part of a larger organization (as defined above), your response may relate to organization level activities. However, in these circumstances, the organization level activities must apply to the entity.

Entity Level: These indicators ask for the highest level of detail in your response. Your response should relate specifically to the named entity for which you are submitting an Assessment response.

Each indicator specifies at which level you should respond. As part of the validation process, GRESB may seek confirmation that a question has been answered at the correct reporting level. Where a participating entity is not part of a larger organization, all Assessment responses should be answered at the entity level.

Service provider (Organization name)

This information is used in the data validation process. State the full name of the organization(s). As part of our annual validation of service providers, we may ask you to provide additional information via the GRESB Portal.

Scoring Methodolody

The GRESB Real Estate Assessment is structured into seven sustainability aspects, with a separate aspect for New Construction & Major Renovations. The weighted combination of scores for each aspect generates the overall GRESB Score. This Reference Guide provides detailed insight into the points available for each indicator, and the weighting of Assessment aspects. The information in this section provides additional context. Points per indicator are decided by GRESB in advance of the Assessment opening for responses. Indicator scoring goes through a three-stage review process based on GRESB’s rules, principles and guidelines.

Points per indicator

For indicators where you can select one or more answers, GRESB awards points cumulatively for each individual selected answer and then aggregates to calculate a final score for the indicator. For many indicators, this final score is capped at a maximum, which means that it is not necessary to select all answers in order to receive full points. This scoring mechanisms allows the diversity among property companies and funds and the variety of their sustainability-oriented activities to be reflected. Open text boxes (where participants answer through a descriptive text), and indicators for which participants select ‘other’ answers, are manually validated. Points are awarded based on the validity of the response.

Scoring model

The scoring model is based on an automated system, which uses a technology platform designed for GRESB by a third party that specializes in data analysis software development. The scoring is completed without manual intervention after data validation has been completed.

The sum of the scores for each indicator adds up to a maximum of 139 points, and the overall GRESB Score is then expressed as a percentage – from 0 to 100. The maximum score for each aspect is a weighted element of the overall GRESB Score. GRESB takes into account the unique characteristics of different property types, not only in benchmarking absolute scores, but also in the scoring of a selection of indicators. A selection of indicators is scored based on each portfolio’s main property types – this holds specifically for the Performance Indicators and Building Certifications indicators.

The overall GRESB Score is divided into two dimensions: Management & Policy (MP) and Implementation & Measurement (IM).

Sustainability Aspect Weight (% Overall Score)
Management 7.9%
Policy & Disclosure 9.4%
Risks & Opportunities 12.9%
Monitoring & EMS 8.6%
Performance Indicators 25.2%
Building Certifications 10.8%
Stakeholder Engagement 25.2%
New Construction & Major Renovations Scored individually
Resilience Module Scored individually

Management & Policy is defined as “the means by which a company or fund deals with or controls its portfolio and its stakeholders and/or a course or principle of action adopted by the company or fund.” The maximum score for Management & Policy is 36.25 points – this is 26.1 percent of the overall GRESB Score and is expressed as a percentage.

Implementation & Measurement is defined as “the process of executing a decision or plan or of putting a decision or plan into effect and/or the action of measuring something related to the portfolio.” The maximum score for Implementation & Measurement is 102.75 points – this is 73.9 percent of the overall GRESB Score and is expressed as a percentage.

Participants reporting on new construction and major renovation projects complete the additional New Construction & Major Renovations (NC&MR) aspect, which receives a separate aspect score that is not included in the overall GRESB Score. Companies and funds that focus on development activities rather than the management of standing investments must complete the separate GRESB Developer Assessment and will receive a separate Developer Score.

Other information

In response to industry feedback, GRESB has compiled a Scoring Document outlining the scoring methodology in detail as applied to each indicator in the 2019 Real Estate Assessment. The 2019 Scoring Document is available to participants via the Assessment Portal on April 1, 2019 and is shared for information purposes in an effort to increase transparency around the Assessment, Methodology and Scoring processes. GRESB reserves the right to make edits to this document during the scoring and analysis period preceding the 2019 results launch.

GRESB Rating

The GRESB Rating is an overall measure of how well ESG issues are integrated into the management and practices of companies and funds. The rating is based on the GRESB Score and its quintile position relative to the GRESB universe, with annual calibration of the model. It is calculated relative to the global performance of all reporting entities - property type and geography are not taken into account. In this way the GRESB Rating provides investors with insight into the differentiation of overall ESG performance within the global property sector. If certain regions systematically perform better, they will on average have higher-rated companies and funds. If the entity is placed in the top quintile, it will have a GRESB 5-star rating; if it is in the bottom quintile, it will have a GRESB 1-star rating, etc.

Entities with a score higher than 50 for both the Implementation & Measurement and Management & Policy dimensions receive the Green Star designation, highlighted through a distinctive markup in the Scorecard and Benchmark Reports.

Entity categorization

A pre-set threshold determines an entity’s geographic location and property type:

The four-tier systems works as follows:

Peer group allocation

Each participant is assigned to a peer group, based on the entity’s legal structure (public/private), property type and geographical location. To ensure participant anonymity, GRESB will only create a peer group if there is a minimum of six peers in the group.

Peer group assignments do not affect a company/fund’s score, but determine how GRESB places an Assessment participant’s results into context.

The goal of the peer group creation process is to compare participants who share as many characteristics as possible, while:

Each participant can be part of multiple peer groups, but can only have one active peer group. The active peer group is the one which is used for benchmarking and is displayed in the participant’s Benchmark Report. This means that participant A can be in the active peer group of participant B, without participant B being in the active peer group of participant A. The practical consequence of this is that A will be displayed in the Benchmark Report of B under “Peer Group Constituents”, while B will not be displayed in the Benchmark Report of A.

The peer group composition is determined by a simple set of quantitative rules and provides consistent treatment for all participants.

GRESB creates peer groups by filtering participants on all relevant characteristics. If the peer group is too small or has too many participants with the same fund manager, we eliminate filters until we have a valid peer group. There are two ways in which the filter can be widened:

The system attempts to find the best peer group based on the criteria presented above. This process repeats in a loop following the logic described in the table available in

The system attempts to find the best peer group based on the criteria presented above. This process repeats in a loop following the logic described in the table available in Appendix: 9 Peer Group Allocation Methodology

Customized Benchmark Reports

Participants who would like to be compared against a different peer group than the one assigned by GRESB can request a Customized Benchmark Report (click here for details). The GRESB Customized Benchmark Report provides advanced analytics through alternative indicator-level performance comparisons and rankings based on a self-selected peer group. It builds on the detailed insights you can draw from the standard Benchmark Report and adds additional flexibility to understand your relative performance in the market.

Peer group disclosure

For public companies, the entity name of the peer group constituents is disclosed in the Benchmark Report. For private entities, only the fund manager’s name of the peer group constituents is disclosed. GRESB provides an opt-in option that discloses the entity’s name (listed) or fund manager’s name (private), as well as the scores for the two dimensions (Management & Policy and Implementation & Measurement). However, this is only disclosed to participants in the peer group who also opted to disclose their name and dimension scores.

Customized Benchmark Reports

Participants who would like to be compared against a different peer group than the one assigned by GRESB can request a Customized Benchmark Report (click here for details). The GRESB Customized Benchmark Report provides advanced analytics through alternative indicator-level performance comparisons and rankings based on a self-selected peer group. It builds on the detailed insights you can draw from the standard Benchmark Report and adds additional flexibility to understand your relative performance in the market.

2019 GRESB Data Validation Process

Data validation is an important part of GRESB’s annual benchmarking process. The purpose of data validation is to encourage best practices in data collection and reporting. It provides the basis for GRESB’s continued efforts to provide investment grade data to its investor members. Following receipt of Assessment submissions, prior to analyzing the data, GRESB validates the input data. This process continues from June 15 until July 31, 2019.

GRESB operates a three-tier validation process (All Participant Check, Validation Plus, Validation Interview). Over the past years, the topics covered by the validation process and the scope of work for Validation Plus and Validation Interviews have increased significantly.The validation process is completely outsourced to GRESB’s parent company GBCI.

What data does GRESB Validate?

GRESB validation is a check on (a) the factual accuracy and (b) the logic (e.g. clear, sound reasoning) of GRESB Assessment submissions including:

GRESB checks:

  1. The existence and content of answers to open text boxes;
  2. The additional information provided to Assessment Indicators, e.g. third-party organization names, assurance, audit, certification and verification standards and ‘other’ answers;
  3. Uploaded documents, and/or on provided document name and date of publication.
  4. Automated outlier and consistency checks of performance data (energy and water consumption, GHG emissions and waste).

Document uploads are validated based on the validity of the document relative to the requirements stated in the guidance for the indicator, including the actual reference to selected answer options (see “Evidence”). Uploaded evidence that was accepted in previous Assessment submissions might not be accepted in subsequent submissions. Enhanced validation checks and/or a change in the level of validation may result in different validation outcomes. In order to be accepted, the provided evidence should meet the requirements as stipulated in this Reference Guide.

All Participant Checks

Validation Plus

The 2019 list of indicators selected for Validation Plus is:

MA5ESG factors included in performance targets
PD1Policy on environmental issues
PD5.1Disclosure of ESG performance
RO3.1Due diligence on new acquisitions
SE4.1ESG specific requirements in the procurement process
NC1Sustainability strategy for new construction & major renovations
NC8Promotion of water conservation
NC14Monitoring impact on local community

The GRESB/GBCI validation team reviews the uploaded documents, they are not disclosed by GRESB to any third parties, unless the option to make the evidence available to investors was selected. You may redact the documents, provided that enough information to validate your Assessment responses is available. All supporting evidence for indicators selected for Validation Plus must be submitted alongside the Real Estate Assessments. Documents, clarifications and information provided after submission will not be taken into consideration.

Validation Interviews

Validation Interviews participants are automatically selected using a system that analyzes criteria based on the previous year’s Assessment data. Participants selected will be notified by email after the Assessment submission. In 2019, GRESB anticipates that approximately five percent of participants will be selected for a Validation Interview.

Quantitative Data Quality Control

Based on statistical modelling, GRESB identifies outliers in all reported quantitative data. This analysis is performed to ensure that all participating entities included in the benchmarking and scoring process are compared based on a fair, quality-controlled dataset.

Indentification of outliers

GRESB identifies reported consumption values as outliers, if the corresponding consumption intensity (consumption/area) and/or its change over time is abnormal relative to all reported data for the particular property type. Through an in-house developed statistical program, GRESB groups and benchmarks values within their property type, which allows for the identification of consumption values that fall outside normally observed ranges. Beyond reviewing the intensity of consumption, the like-for-like development of consumption over a two-year period is also used to identify abnormal data points.

Once the overall portfolio consumption and/or its consumption change over time are identified as abnormal, all underlying data points are reviewed by a member of the validation team. All GRESB participants undergo the same data review and all decisions are automatically protocolled by the system so that they can always be reviewed.

Elimination of outliers

GRESB acknowledges that some identified abnormal data points are not the result of incorrect data, but rather the result of unusual business development. To account for this explanation, outliers are not removed if a reasonable explanation by the respondent exists. Once participants enter unusual data points, the GRESB Portal requires a written explanation for those reported values. GRESB reviews all explanations for outliers and considers those before making a final decision on removing the outlier from the dataset. If a data point is identified as outlier and no reasonable explanation is provided, the data point is removed from the participant’s assessment response, both for scoring and reporting purposes. The outcomes of the outlier validation process are presented in the Benchmark Report and are not communicated to participants during the validation process. Please check Appendix 7c: Outlier validation for more information

Validation issues: queries and disputes

Participants with questions on individual validation decisions can contact the GRESB Helpdesk. For a complete interpretation of the validation decisions in the Assessment, participants can request a Results Review. For more information about the Results Review, please click here.

Each validation inquiry sent via the GRESB Helpdesk is evaluated internally and can be the result of:

Reporting Scope and Boundaries

GRESB requires property companies and funds to report on their whole portfolio, including both managed and indirectly managed assets.

The Annual GRESB Assessment includes all assets that are held during the reporting period, including those that have been sold or purchased. For these assets, ESG data is reported for the period of time that the assets were part of the portfolio. This enables us to deliver the standardized and comparable assessment of portfolio-level ESG performance that the market is seeking. However it is also worth noting that in addition to simple overall scores of ESG performance - such as the GRESB Score and GRESB Ratings - we provide detailed aspect-level and individual indicator-level assessments of performance. This richer analysis, further complimented by peer group benchmarking, enables managers to understand their results in the context of their investment strategies and communicate this to their investors.

Joint ventures

When an asset or assets are part of a joint venture, joint operation or are in joint ownership, participants are required to report on these assets, even if the joint arrangement means that the participant does not have direct operational control over the asset(s). Joint venture partners with a stake of 25 percent or higher are considered to have significant influence over operational initiatives and can therefore drive implementation of sustainability initiatives and performance improvements, even in the case the operational control resides with another partner. If the equity share in a joint venture, joint operation or joint ownership is more than, or equal to 25 percent, participants can choose to either (a) report on their share or (b) report on the full asset. This must be done consistently throughout the portfolio and is regardless of operational or management control. This may result in an asset being included in two separate submissions. However, this does not impact GRESB’s analysis or the benchmark results. If the equity share in a joint venture, joint operation or joint ownership is less than 25 percent, participants can exclude the asset(s) from the reporting boundaries. In either case, participants must explain their approach in the open text box in RC5.1.

If an asset is part of multiple portfolios managed by the same fund manager, the asset should be treated as a joint venture in each portfolio. The rules outlined above apply.

Managed/Indirectly Managed

The definition of Indirectly Managed assets in the Assessment is solely based on the landlord/tenant relationship.

Managed assets or buildings are those for which the landlord is determined to have “operational control” where operational control is defined as having the ability to introduce and implement operating policies, health and safety policies, and/or environmental policies. If both the landlord and tenant have the authority to introduce and implement any or all of the policies mentioned above, the asset or building should be reported as a Managed asset. Where a single tenant has the greatest authority to introduce and implement operating policies and environmental policies, the tenant should be assumed to have operational control. For example, in the case of a full repairing and insuring (FRI) lease in England and Wales, the tenant has operational control meaning that the asset is Indirectly Managed.

GRESB distinguishes between Managed assets and Indirectly Managed assets in the Performance Indicators aspect. GRESB has done so in recognition of the fact that landlords of Indirectly Managed assets may have little or no control over the use or purchase of utilities for the asset, or over waste management practices. The guidance for this aspect explains GRESB’s approach in more detail.

GRESB does not specifically distinguish between Managed and Indirectly Managed assets outside the Performance Indicator aspect. The Assessment measures ESG performance using a consistent methodology that applies both to listed companies and private funds and which applies across property sectors and regions. GRESB encourages the collection of data and qualitative information regarding ESG issues that give property companies and funds and their investors the tools to identify areas in which they can improve performance and as a toolkit for internal and external engagement.

Furthermore, while GRESB does measure absolute performance, it emphasizes the importance of peer group comparisons in scoring and the analysis of benchmark results. Where participant numbers allow this, GRESB creates separate peer groups for each property type, for listed and private entities and for Managed and Indirectly Managed assets. Additionally, participants have the opportunity to explain the composition of their portfolio in the open text box in RC5.1, including clarifying limits on asset control that arise from the landlord/tenant relationship.

With these factors in mind, while the landlord’s day-to-day involvement in Indirectly Managed assets may be limited, the topics covered by the Assessment are equally relevant to Indirectly Managed assets. Accordingly, the same questions and methodology apply.

2019 GRESB Real Estate Assessment Changes

GRESB works closely with its members and broader industry stakeholders to ensure the Assessment addresses material issues in the sustainability performance of real estate investments. The main focus of the 2019 Assessment development process were enhancements to asset-level reporting functionality and the integration of selected Health & Well-being Module elements. The changes serve the longer term development of the Assessment, support our efforts for good quality data and reflect the evolution of the real estate industry as measured by the benchmark over the last years.

The table below lists all changes, as well as their implications for your reporting process.

High-level comments

Continuous, all year use of the GRESB Asset Portal and API

With the year round availability of the Asset Portal and API, assets can be added and edited throughout the year. Added data can then be used during the reporting period for aggregation to portfolio level indicators.

Updated checks in the asset portal and improved guidance for asset level reporting

The updates to data integrity rules and live validation are designed to simplify reporting and improve data quality.

Updated API

API endpoints are updated and migrated to https://api.gresb.com/api/entities. For more information visit our updated API documentation.

The access to the Template Tool is no longer restricted to members.

The template tool enables participants to copy information across multiple submissions, reducing the amount of time spent replicating information across entities held by the same fund manager.

The Validation Interview process changes structure and will be mainly based on a desktop review.

While the scope of the Validation Interview will remain the same (the validators will do an in-depth analysis of all supporting evidences, mandatory and non-mandatory, performance indicators and outliers), the Validation Interview report, the call with the participant, and the participant’s ability to change their responses following the call will be removed from the process. Participants will continue to be automatically notified if they are selected for a Validation Interview and there may still be instances where we need to contact the participant for missing supporting evidence, additional information, clarifications or corrections to the data submitted.

A selection of Health & Well-being indicators are incorporated into the Real Estate Assessment

With the release of the 2018 results and after a successful 3-year cycle, the Health & Well-being Module has served its purpose as an exploratory vehicle and incubator for new indicators. In 2019, a selection of health & well-being indicators are incorporated into the GRESB Real Estate Assessment, effectively making these indicators a reporting requirement for all GRESB participants. The newly introduced Health & Well-being indicators are grouped as a separate section in the Stakeholder Engagement aspect.

Validation Plus indicators

The Validation Plus indicator selection is performed by GRESB and is subject to change on an annual basis in order to rotate the validation scope every year. This allows GRESB to apply a consistent level of scrutiny on all participating entities. In 2019, the following changes are introduced:

  • MA1, PD3: are excluded from the Validation Plus scope and become APC indicators. 2018 supporting evidence is pre-filled and pre-validated
  • MA5, PD1: become Validation Plus indicators and the supporting evidence is reviewed for all participants

Indicators level comments

Entity & Reporting Characteristics

RC5.2

New evidence requirement for reporting boundaries provided in RC5.1

Rationale for change: RC5.1 determines the entity’s peer group composition and enables data checks on benchmarked indicators. To facilitate a fair and accurate benchmark, it is essential that the portfolio boundaries identified in RC5.1 are complete.

Impact of change: Increased participant and investor confidence in the accuracy of the GRESB Real Estate Benchmark. An improved ability to confirm accurate portfolio reporting in both Response Checks and Validation.

RC-NC1.1

Vacant land is excluded from the reporting scope.

Rationale for change: Vacant land does not share the same ESG issues as standing investments or development projects, and it does not directly associate to any performance indicator.

Policy and Disclosure

PD2

Two new options are added “Employee Health & Well-being” and “Tenant/customer and community health & well-being”.

Rationale for change: This is part of the Health & Well-being integration.

Impact of change: The scope of the indicator is expanded to assess the presence of policies to address employee, tenant/customer and community health and well-being. The indicator will still be pre-filled for 2018 participants.

PD4

Non-scored indicator is further developed to introduce a set of quantitative diversity metrics and the ability to report on governance bodies and employees separately.

Rationale for change: This indicator was introduced as a non-scored indicator in 2018. Building on last year’s answers, we have further developed it into a more analytical indicator on diversity.

Impact of change: The changes bring a better alignment with the GRI Standards and EPRA’s sBPRs.

PD5.2

Third-party verification and third-party assurance of sustainability disclosure receive equal points.

Rationale for change: Over the past years, the non-financial information third-party review industry has witnessed the development of several new verification and assurance standards. The level of scrutiny underpinning such third-party reviews tends to be dictated by the standard used, rather than the terminology used to describe the review process.

Impact of change: The scoring is adjusted to recognize external verification in the same way as external assurance. “Other” answers provided to the Scheme name dropdown menu are subject to validation.

Risk and Opportunities

RO5/6/7

Indicators are simplified to reflect whether such measures exist across the portfolio. The column for individual measure descriptions is replaced by an open textbox below the table.

Rationale for change: Participants no longer need to report on the measures that were implemented over four years ago.

Impact of change: Reduced reporting burden.

Monitoring and EMS

ME2

Evidence removed.

Rationale for change: The supporting evidence for this indicator was validated for a few consecutive years. More than 99% evidence uploaded in 2018 was Accepted.

Impact of change: Reduced reporting burden.

Performance Indicators

Asset level data

Enable the download of asset-level data

Rationale for change: Provide a more flexible asset level reporting process controlled by the participant.

Impact of change: This can be done once outliers are solved and missing data is completed, enabling the participant to use a curated dataset online (through the portal) and offline.

PI1.2/ PI2.2/ PI3.2

Open text box for description of intensity calculation methodology is removed, and the scoring of these three indicators is updated.

Rationale for change: The information provided via the text boxes was repetitive and lacked specificity. This is a simplification step towards the 2020 Assessment framework, which will simplify these indicators even further.

Impact of change: Scoring for these indicators remains the same, but the points previously assigned to the open text boxes are re-distributed to the intensity data tables and selection of normalisation factors.

PI2.1

Table is extended to capture emissions from outdoor / exterior spaces

Rationale for change: Participants with outdoor / exterior spaces energy data reported in PI1.1 (and particularly those with only outdoor / exterior spaces data available) were not able to correctly represent the emissions corresponding to this consumption, leading to outlier messages in some cases.

Impact of change: A more accurate representation of GHG emissions data. No impact on scoring.

PI1.4/ PI2.3/ PI3.4/ PI4.2

Third-party verification and third-party assurance of data receive equal points

Rationale for change: Over the past years, the non-financial information third-party review industry has witnessed the development of several new verification and assurance standards. The level of scrutiny underpinning such third-party reviews tends to be dictated by the standard used, rather than the terminology used to describe the review process.

Impact of change: The scoring is adjusted to recognize external verification in the same way as external assurance. “Other” answers provided to the Scheme name dropdown menu are subject to validation.

Stakeholder Engagement

SE3.1

Indicator is incorporated into SE12.1

Rationale for change: Consolidation of health & well-being indicators into an individual section

Impact of change: Indicator maintains its score within SE12.1 and is pre-filled with the 2018 information (if applicable)

SE8.1

Evidence removed.

Rationale for change: The supporting evidence for this indicator was validated for all participants in 2018 and had a 90% Accepted rate. The remainder of 10% answers were Partially Accepted, with only a few exceptions.

Impact of change: Reduced reporting burden.

SE12.1/ SE12.2/ SE13.1/ SE13.2

New indicators on employees and tenants health and well-being.

Rationale for change: Integration of select indicators from the old Health & Well-being Module into the Real Estate Assessment.

Impact of change: The weight of the Stakeholder Engagement aspect increases as a result of:

  • SE12.1: 2p, S, IM
  • SE12.2: 0p, S, IM
  • SE13.1: 1.5p, S, IM
  • SE13.2: 0p, S, IM

New Construction and Major Renovation

NC7.2

The open textboxes for describing the entity’s definition of “net-zero energy” and referenced code/standards are replaced by checkboxes.

Rationale for change: Responses in open textboxes are difficult to compare and provide little analytical value.

Impact of change: An easier to report, better-structured indicator.

Entity & Reporting Characteristics

Entity Characteristics

Reporting Characteristics

New Construction & Major Renovations

Management

Sustainability Objectives

2018 Indicator

2 points , MP, G

3 points , MP, G

Sustainability Decision Making

2018 Indicator

2 points , MP, G

1 point , MP, G

3 points , MP, G

Policy & Disclosure

ESG Policies

2018 Indicator

3 points , MP, G

2 points , MP, G

2 points , MP, G

Not scored , MP, G

Sustainability Disclosure

2018 Indicator

4 points , MP, G

2 points , MP, G

Not scored , MP, G

Not scored , MP, G

Not scored , MP, G

Risks & Opportunities

Governance

2018 Indicator

1 point , IM, G

2 points , IM, G

Environmental & Social

2018 Indicator

2 points , IM, E

2 points , IM, E

4.5 points , IM, E

3 points , IM, E

2.5 points , IM, E

1 point , IM, E

Monitoring & EMS

Environmental Management Systems

2018 Indicator

3 points , MP, G

Data Management Systems

2018 Indicator

4 points , IM, E

Monitoring Consumption

2018 Indicator

3 points , IM, E

2 points , IM, E

Not scored , IM, E

Performance Indicators

Energy Consumption Data

2018 Indicator

Not scored

12 points , IM, E

1.5 points , IM, E

3 points , IM, E

1 point , MP, E

Not scored

3.5 points , IM, E

0.75 points , IM, E

0.75 points , MP, E

Not scored

3.5 points , IM, E

0.75 points , IM, E

0.5 points , IM, E

0.75 points , MP, E

Not scored

3.25 points , IM, E

0.75 points , MP, E

3 points , MP, E

Building Certifications

Green Building Certificates

2018 Indicator

10 points , IM, E

12 points , IM, E

Energy Ratings

2018 Indicator

3 points , IM, E

Stakeholder Engagement

Employees

2018 Indicator

2 points , IM, S

1.5 points , IM, S

1 point , IM, S

0.5 points , IM, S

Suppliers

2018 Indicator

3 points , MP, G

Not scored , MP, G

2 points , IM, S

2 points , IM, S

Not scored , MP, S

Tenants/Occupiers

2018 Indicator

4 points , IM, S

3 points , IM, S

1 point , IM, S

3 points , IM, E

3 points , IM, E

1 point , IM, E

Community

2018 Indicator

3 points , IM, S

1.5 points , IM, S

Health and Well-being

2018 Indicator

2 points , IM, S

Not scored , IM, S

1.5 points , IM, S

Not scored , IM, S

New Construction & Major Renovations

Sustainability Requirements

2018 Indicator

1 point

3 points

1.5 points

Materials and Certifications

2018 Indicator

2.5 points

2 points

5 points

Energy Efficiency

2018 Indicator

3 points

3 points

1 point

Water Conservation and Waste Management

2018 Indicator

2 points

2 points

Supply Chain

2018 Indicator

2 points

2 points

Health, Safety and Well-being

2018 Indicator

2 points

1 point

1 point

Community Impact and Engagement

2018 Indicator

1.5 points

1.5 points