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Important Updates to the GRESB 2020 Real Estate Assessment

The GRESB portal for 2020 reports opens soon, and with a new year comes new guidelines. We’re here to help untangle these changes. 

We do our best to stay ahead of this annual ESG (environmental, social, governance) benchmark specifically designed for real estate companies and entities before our clients submit hundreds of GRESB reports. From our analysis, here are highlighted changes from the 2020 GRESB Real Estate Pre-Release and Reference Guide. 

Key Changes to the 2020 GRESB Real Estate Assessment

This year, GRESB made a number of changes to its real estate survey. We’ll cover structural changes first, address a few changes to the types of questions asked, and finally we’ll cover the timeline for the 2020 benchmark – including the new review period.

Changes to the Structure of the GRESB Assessment

This year’s assessment included several changes, including the transition to three sections: Management (30%), Performance (70%), and Development (70%). This new system replaces Management & Policy (formerly 26% of a GRESB Score) and Implementation & Measurement (formerly 74% of a GRESB score). The changes are meant to better reflect the way real estate is managed. 

The GRESB Real Estate Assessment now comprises three components:

  • The Management Component addresses the entity’s strategy and leadership management, policies and processes, risk management and stakeholder engagement approach to ESG at the organizational level.
  • The Performance Component measures the entity’s performance at the asset and portfolio levels. This section is meant for any real estate entity with operational assets.
  • The Development Component incorporates the entity’s efforts to address ESG issues during the design, construction and renovation of buildings. This component is aimed at entities involved in new construction (building design, site selection, construction) and/or major renovation projects with on-going projects or completed projects during the reporting period.

If your reporting entity does not include new construction and/or major renovation projects (on-going or completed during the reporting year), only the Management and Performance components will be applicable; vice versa for entities that only develop or redevelop buildings during the reporting years. If your entity both develops and manages assets, you will need to submit all three components and you will receive scores for both the development and performance breakouts. 

Changes to Questions on the Assessment

Asset-level reporting is now mandatory. Performance indicators, including energy, water, GHG emissions, and waste, must be monitored and reported. Efficiency Measures (Projects), Technical Assessments (Audits), Ratings, and Certifications will also be reportable on the asset-level – this will be submitted through the asset-level spreadsheet. For those who reported at the asset-level last year, your data for the reporting years will already be properly aligned when you download the spreadsheet from the portal.

GRESB is eliminating “Managed” and “Indirectly Managed” assets. This concept has been replaced with “Landlord Controlled” and “Tenant Controlled” areas. These changes are being made at the space-level rather than the asset level; therefore, an asset can include both Landlord and Tenant Controlled areas. This better aligns with the industry terms and control over what areas are owned by tenants and what areas are managed by landlords.

Intensities no longer need to be calculated by the reporter; GRESB will calculate these. Gone are the days that you had to manually calculate the energy intensity of every asset. This will save you a good amount of time so you can put your energy behind other areas of the assessment.

Adjustments to the Scoring Methodology and Process

With the three components of the GRESB Real Estate Assessment, the results of these reports will follow suit. Your score will be broken out into these components so you’ll have better visibility into each area of your business and how you compare against your peers. If you submit both the Performance and Development Components, you’ll get two different scores that align accordingly.

We expect the requirement of asset-level data to make an impact on scores this year. GRESB will be comparing a significantly larger dataset than in previous years, so having superior data coverage will be helpful to increasing your scores. However, this increase in data points could also lead to an increase in errors. GRESB has planned for that as well.

The 2020 GRESB Real Estate Assessment has included a review period after the initial scores are released on September 1. During this time, participants will be able to use a dedicated form to submit a review request to GRESB if they strongly believe that there has been a miscalculation of their score. This should only be reserved for a case where entities are confident that their score has been miscalculated.

Essential Dates for the GRESB 2020 Reporting Timeline:

In the 2020 reporting cycle, GRESB has introduced a few new elements to the reporting process. Here is our suggested timeline:

  • March 2020: Release of Real Estate and Infrastructure, Reference Guide and Resilience Module
  • April 1, 2020: GRESB Real Estate assessment opens in GRESB and Measurabl portals
  • March – May: third party assurance through Measurabl’s partners
  • April-May: Response check through Measurabl (if you are a customer)
  • April-July 1: GRESB Response Checks (customers are still welcome to submit early)
  • August 1, 2020: Survey submission deadline*
  • October 1, 2020: Launch of Preliminary Benchmark Reports, Review Period begins
  • November 1, 2020: Final results will be released to participants and investors
  • November – December 2020: Results Events (hosted globally)

*The deadline was moved back to August 1, 2020 on April 1, 2020. Some aspects of the timeline have been updated to reflect this change

More GRESB reports are submitted through Measurabl’s software platform than any other service. We pair our GRESB Reporting Module with a service, Report Filing Support, to ensure customers are well equipped with established milestones, timelines, and a plan for a successful submission. If you are interested in submitting this year on the extended deadline, we recommend you reach out immediately so you can benefit from this service and longer submission period.

If you’re a Measurabl user, you can check out our Support Center article for specific updates that impact your reporting this year. To dive into the details, you can review the full Pre-Release and Reference Guide from GRESB.

Please note that some of this content may change as GRESB releases new guidance. This post was updated on April 1, 2020 to reflect changes in the 2020 reporting timeline.

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