Interview with Steven Pringle, GRESB – Climate Protection is a task for society as a whole, which is also increasingly reflected in the legal framework for the economy in Germany. The real estate industry has a special responsibility in this regard: the building sector contributes around 35 per cent to final energy consumption and around 28 per cent to CO2 emissions. In order to achieve the specified climate protection targets at portfolio level, HIH Invest's asset management is developing strategic measures with the aim of reducing CO2 consumption on a portfolio-wide basis, increasing energy efficiency and conserving resources.
HIH Invest is in close contact with industry associations and scientific initiatives. The questions that concerns us: How can real estate companies contribute to climate protection across sectors and beyond national borders? In this conversation we speak to Steven Pringle, Director Member Relations GRESB, for the first part of our three-part interview series. The organisation was founded in 2009 by a number of investors who wanted to facilitate access to comparable and reliable data on the environmental, social and management performance of their investments.
Real estate companies have realised that general declarations of intent are no longer sufficient. Self-image development is no longer based on how companies report on themselves in ESG reports. Today, reputation is built on public commitments and how the impact of the company's climate measures can be verified.
Many investors have different climate targets. GRESB believes that those targets related to net zero targets, regulatory reporting as well as physical and transition risks are becoming increasingly important. The GRESB valuation and the underlying data are aligned with many of these targets and will adapt to the changing needs of investors. The GRESB Benchmark Report is the first tool to identify a portfolio's ESG performance in relation to its direct peers and the real estate industry as a whole.
Investors and legislators are increasingly demanding transparency on sustainability aspects, which is also reflected in the further development of GRESB's assessment process. When we first started collecting information on sustainability, participating companies only had to prove that they had access to information on the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of their holdings. In the future, a high rating - irrespective of whether it is through GRESB or other initiatives - will not only depend on the availability and accessibility of the data. The data must reliably show the extent to which they contribute to the decarbonisation of real estate portfolio.
Digitisation plays a big role in enabling building owners to quantify their energy consumption and make plans to reduce it. If you don't have insight into your energy use and the resulting carbon emissions, it's difficult to determine which parts of the building's operation are the most energy and carbon intensive. This is where smart metering and advanced building management systems are critical for measuring performance.