Seven years of global sustainability leadership

The GRESB results are in. And for the seventh year in a row, Australia’s real estate market has been named the world’s most sustainable.

GRESB, the global real estate sustainability benchmark, is the world’s leading data provider for environmental, social and governance performance of real assets.

This year, GRESB assessed 850 real estate companies and funds, representing more than 77,000 properties and AUD $4.6 trillion in global assets under management.

A record 66 Australian companies with $205 billion in assets reported to GRESB this year, up from 55 last year.

The Australia/New Zealand regional score was 73, compared with a global average of 63. Australia continues to lead the world, although GRESB acknowledges that the gap with other regions is slowly closing.

We can be proud of this recognition for our industry’s high level of transparency, collaboration and knowledge-sharing, as well as for our commitment to sustainability at the highest levels.

The fact that 20 per cent more Australian companies are reporting to GRESB than a year ago speaks volumes.

Disclosure and transparency continue to drive the market in Australia, influenced by a host of factors from the Paris Agreement targets and Sustainable Development Goals, to disclosure requirements through the stock exchange and the GBCA’s zero carbon agenda.

We have certified more than 1,700 Green Star-rated buildings, fit outs and communities, and green building certification programs like Green Star and NABERS are now institutionalised in mature real estate markets like Australia.

While each of the 66 Australian companies that disclosed their sustainability performance to GRESB deserve applause, a few leaders deserve to be singled out.

Lendlease’s Australian Prime Property Fund Commercial was ranked number one of all 849 companies and funds globally. This is the third time Lendlease’s fund has claimed the top spot, having achieved the same result in 2015 and 2014.

In addition, Lendlease International Towers Sydney Trust and Lendlease One International Towers Sydney Trust were jointly named the most sustainable development funds globally.

Lendlease’s Managing Director, Investment Management, Josh McHutchison says Green Star has played a role in his company’s success, as “established rating tools like Green Star provide investors with an independent verification of performance and helps us position our funds to meet the demands of leading investors.”

Dexus Wholesale Property Fund was named a global sector leader for diversified office and retail groups. Dexus has saved a massive $93 million since 2008 through energy efficiency measures, and Chief Executive Officer Darren Steinberg says the GRESB rating is “testament to the hard work and efforts of our sustainability team.”

Stockland was ranked first globally among listed companies for the diversified office and retail sector. Davina Rooney, Stockland’s General Manager for Sustainability, says she’s proud that her company “continues to take a concerted effort to improve and measure sustainability across the business - within our assets, through our supply chain, the location and design of our communities and through tangible benefits to our customers and retailers.”

GRESB also recognised regional sector leaders Vicinity Centres, Frasers Logistics & Industrial Trust, Dexus Office Trust and Goodman Group.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index named Mirvac the top real estate group last week. Investment specialist group RobecoSAM, which compiles the rankings, singled out Mirvac’s “climate strategy and approach to biodiversity” as “particularly laudable”.

Mirvac's top ranking was underpinned by strengths in corporate governance, impact measurement and valuation, environmental reporting, and social reporting. Mirvac’s CEO and Managing Director Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz says the result “demonstrates our whole-hearted commitment to sustainability in its broadest form, which provides real value to our communities, customers, partners and investors”.

So let’s applaud these leaders – all of them dedicated members of the GBCA – for their exceptional and enduring leadership in sustainability.