Australian real estate ranks number one for sustainability

Australia’s real estate market has topped the list in the internationally recognised GRESB Real Estate Assessment ranking for 2021, proving yet again that the sector leads the world in sustainability.

It’s the 11th consecutive year Australian property companies have taken the top spot. 

GRESB is the global benchmark for environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of real assets, defining and measuring standards for sustainability performance.

The 2021 benchmark saw GRESB’s largest ever growth; the group of listed entities grew by 20 per cent, while the non-listed group grew by 25 per cent.

Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA) Chief Executive Officer Davina Rooney applauded Australian companies for outperforming other regions for the eleventh time.

“In what has been a challenging year globally, our region keeps lifting the bar of ESG and sustainability within the property sector by meeting GRESB’s targets then innovating to improve results year-on-year,” Ms Rooney said.

“Australia’s property sector has strengthened its commitment to climate change mitigation, emission reduction and sustainability performance, and this commitment is second to none.”

The GRESB Real Estate Assessment generates two benchmarks.

The GRESB Standing Investments Benchmark considers management and performance factors and is aimed at portfolios with operating buildings, while the GRESB Development Benchmark considers management and development factors and is for portfolios with new construction and major renovation projects.

Globally, Oceania maintains the highest regional average score of 79 in the Standing Investment Benchmark and 84 in the Development Benchmark.

Property Council of Australia’s Chief Executive, Ken Morrison, said GRESB’s ESG data was highly valued by investors, and defined the standards of sustainability performance and reporting.

“GRESB continues to set the international goalposts for ESG performance and Australia continues to score highly, showing the rest of the world how a sustainable, net zero and healthy future is possible,” he said.

“Our industry’s leadership is testament to what can be achieved when targets are in place and our sector leaders should be recognised and praised for their willingness to innovate to meet these goals.”

GRESB’s Head of Asia Pacific, Ruben Langbroek, said the impacts of climate change and the international pandemic had accelerated responsible investments within the property industry, with institutional investors increasingly allocating their capital to portfolios that generate positive environmental, social, and economic outcomes.

“We are realising that the environmental and social challenges we face cannot be solved with a business-as-usual approach,” he said.

“Our industry needs to respond by building back better, reaching net zero earlier and moreover, becoming climate positive.

“The 2021 GRESB results for Oceania show that transformative change is possible, and transparency on ESG performance supports this transition.”

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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a freelance journalist for Elite Agent.