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[Event Recap] [BASIC Event] Crash Course in Sustainable Real Estate for the Investor Point of View

Marion Rockwood

[Event Recap] [BASIC Event] Crash Course in Sustainable Real Estate for the Investor Point of View
On the rainy evening of March 28, BASIC members and folks interested in sustainable real estate gathered at the LEED platinum-rated Atlantic Wharf to hear USGBC-MA executive director Grey Lee speak about the U.S. Green Building Council’s GRESB tool for investors. Before the talk, there was some lively networking, where attendees could get to know one another and make connections to pursue after the event.

The GRESB benchmark offers a way to assess the ESG performance of real estate, real estate debt, and infrastructure projects. GRESB provides systematic assessment, objective scoring, and peer benchmarking, which gives investors a useful tool to assess the expected risk and return of their portfolios. It is currently tracking $2.8 trillion of real estate assets under management. Since its inception, the list of benchmark participants has expanded and now includes 750 real estate developers, investors, and owners. Participants receive scorecards based on factors such as management, disclosure, monitoring, building certification, and stakeholder engagement.

After Mr. Lee’s presentation, there was an insightful question and answer session with the crowd. The discussion touched on what insights the transparency offered by GRESB can provide into the risk and opportunities of a portfolio. For example, the benchmark can answer asset managers’ questions about whether LEED-certified properties see stickier tenants or those willing to pay higher rents. GRESB may also reveal trends in certain markets, such as high energy cost markets, hospitals, or universities.

The benchmark provides a new angle for the analysis of real estate portfolios—a potential edge investors are always eager to gain. On average, real estate portfolios that use GRESB have outperformed the market by 2%.