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Best Practices for Submitting Your GRESB Assessment

GRESB is a huge sustainability report to tackle, and often real estate companies file with a number of unintentional inaccuracies. Get it right by ensuring these five areas are accurate and true to your individual processes.

1. Set Reporting Boundary Accurately:

According to the GRESB Reference Guide, you must report on all assets that were operational at any point in the prior reporting year that you own (not lease), even if it was bought/sold in that year.

When in doubt, report the asset.

This may differ from how you defined “reporting boundary” in the past. There’s a tendency to “turn off” assets if there’s missing data, if tenants are in a triple net lease (NNN), or if an asset was bought or sold in that year, among a host of other reasons. However, GRESB Reference Guide states that any asset that was operational at any point in the reporting year (2016) must be included in the reporting boundary. Any deviation from this rule should be addressed in the “reporting boundary” RC 5.2 section of the survey.

2. Get Your Property Types Right:

You can define each your sites in one of 18 property types in GRESB. If your site is only one property type, this should be an easy mapping for you. But, if you have a site with multiple property types, you have 2 options: 1) Report the site as all one property type, or 2) Report the site as separate property types.

If the property’s main property type is 75% or more of the total property floor space, option 1 is the best choice. However, if the secondary property type is more than 25%, option 2 is your only choice. A property with more than one “majority” property type is called “mixed use” and should be broken out by each majority space.

If you’re a Measurabl user, don’t worry – our system correctly identifies each site’s property type, which will roll-up correctly in GRESB.

In addition to property types, be sure to define your property as directly vs. indirectly managed assets correctly. Managed assets are properties where the landlord has operational control – the power to create and implement policies on how the building is run. If both the tenant and the landlord can introduce these types of policies, the asset should still be reported as a managed asset. Only in cases where tenants are the primary policymakers (i.e. triple net leases) should the asset be reported as an indirectly managed asset.

3. Allocate Meter Data:

Define what utility data you’re collecting as it relates to your building (i.e. Whole Building, Tenant, Common Area). The leasing structure can help determine the various ways you define meter data. Be sure you’re correctly assigning meter and meter data to the appropriate responsible parties.

For example, if the landlord (i.e. you) pays the utility costs for a particular meter, you can easily report on the data coming from that meter. However, if the tenant is responsible for the utility payment and the landlord does not have access to the meter data, you may not have full data coverage for the building. By knowing your appropriate meter allocations, you can accurately report your data coverage.

Some common scenarios:

  • Full Operational Control:  You can see and control the utility data used at that property. You have “Whole Building” data. (e.g. Office sites)
  • Partial Operational Control:  You can see and control the utility data for the common areas and vacant spaces only. Your meter represents “Common Area” data. (e.g. Multifamily or Retail sites)
  • Triple Net Lease:  You don’t have access to any of the utility data that your tenant uses. (e.g. Industrial sites)

4. Review Your Data Coverage:

Data coverage is the portion of your portfolio for which data is available in comparison to the total floor area for which data could have been collected. This figure is reported as a percentage of the data you collect vs. what you could collect (a.k.a. Max Coverage). Your Max Coverage should sum to your total portfolio floor space, even if you don’t have operational control of the entire space.

Understanding your meter data allocations, helps you define your data coverage.

Worried about how that hurts your score? Don’t be! You’re compared to peers with similar assets. Chances are, if you’re having difficulty collecting tenant data, so are your peers.

Not sure what “counts” towards your data coverage? In Measurabl, you can quickly assess which properties have data and which buildings still need data. The filtering tools make identifying problem areas as simple as a few clicks, while the Utility Sync feature helps fill in the gaps of manual data collection.

5. Go Beyond Utility Data

Your buildings are so much more than utility data. Though this is a great indication of your footprint, your building performance is highlighted every year with efficiency projects, audits, certifications, and energy ratings. Utilize your GRESB report to shine a light on your achievements.

All these items, along with many other questions in GRESB, ask for associated portfolio coverage. Similar to “Data Coverage”, this is equivalent to the floor area that’s certified or rated in comparison to the total portfolio floor area. Even if only a small portion of your building is certified, such as the retail portion at the bottom of your office building, this still counts! Make sure to only include the retail space floor area for portfolio coverage, though.

Collecting projects from the last reporting period is a fantastic start, but you can also report on projects ever completed, even if it was completed during construction. Any projects that were completed more than 4 years ago, during construction, or when someone else owned it can be reported in the “% whole portfolio covered” column (Q17-Q19). You can also report on audits performed over the last 4 years.

Not only will tracking these enhancements make reporting significantly easier, it will ensure you’re getting maximum points. Remember, if you measure what matters, it’s easier to improve upon success.

Still have questions? Your Measurabl Customer Success team will help keep you on track.

This blog has been updated to reflect changes to the GRESB 2020 Real Estate Assessment.