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ESG Through Different Types of Sustainability Reporting

For commercial buildings, ESG (environmental, social, and governance) performance reporting is becoming increasingly important. Companies and organizations including real estate firms, retail businesses, hotels, restaurants, museums must not only demonstrate their commitment to protecting the environment but also to promoting the safety and well-being of employees, customers, and the community. In doing this, they are assuring stakeholders that they are working to mitigate risks and consistently operate in a responsible manner. 

Understanding Sustainability Reporting

Sustainability reporting is an ongoing practice of communicating environmental and social metrics to help drive sustainable business practices. It allows companies to benchmark their performance against peers and share their performance with stakeholders, regulators, and investors.

Furthermore, it aims to provide commercial establishments and companies with a greater degree of transparency on their environmental and social actions, as well as outlining preventative measures for mitigating risks in the future.


Top ESG Reporting Frameworks

Sustainability reporting frameworks have become an essential tool for tenable real estate management, as the world has come to better appreciate the interplay between natural resources and businesses.

The challenge many firms face is how to understand the various sustainability reporting standards and which are most relevant to their stakeholders and investors.

Let’s understand each of them.

GRESB (formerly the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) 

GRESB helps real estate investors assess the sustainability performance of commercial real estate portfolios around the globe. Every year, GRESB issues a survey asking about things like energy and water usage as well as waste and carbon output. They’re also interested in things like how well you treat and train your employees if you’ve been sued for corruption and dozens of other material indicators.

Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)

The CDP leverages the collective power of institutions to provide shared, measurable, and credible disclosure about companies’ impacts on forests, water, and climate. The CDP has announced plans to work in collaboration with other popular frameworks, including the GRI and the SASB, on a shared vision for what is needed to achieve more robust corporate sustainability reporting.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

The GRI encourages multinational organizations to disclose their social, environmental, and economic impacts to increase sustainability. With thousands of reporters in more than 100 countries, GRI is universally suitable for large and small organizations, the GRI is designed for all types of sectors and industries worldwide.

Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)

SASB’s mission is to develop standards for reporting sustainability information that could be meaningful to investors. It aims to provide transparent data that could affect an investor’s financial decisions towards the company.

Principles for Responsible Investments (PRI)

PRI is the world’s leading proponent of responsible investment and helps investors integrate social, environmental, and corporate governance into their investment decision-making. PRI does not operate for profit, but actively encourages investors to responsibly manage their own investment decisions.

Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR)

SECR aims to unify existing carbon reports and reduce the amount of reporting required by companies. has created a simplified and streamlined process that allows for greater consistency. Searchable, online, and updated in real-time, SECR makes it easy for businesses and commercial buildings to monitor and improve energy use, emissions, and costs.

Related: Five ESG Frameworks Real Estate Owners Need to Know in 2022 and Beyond 

ESG and Its Core Dimensions

By providing environmental, social, and governance metrics, one can accurately compare an organization to its peers. Though ESG is often viewed as similar to sustainability, they have one distinct difference. Sustainability is subjective and broad. The goal of ESG, on the other hand, is to be an objective measurement of corporate and social responsibility that customers and investors can use to compare performance and make responsible purchasing and investment decisions. 

Related: ESG vs. Sustainability: What’s the Difference?


A strategic approach to improving environmental performance through ongoing, integrated efforts to reduce every building’s carbon footprint and water/energy use.

To pursue environmental sustainability, businesses and establishments need to reduce the negative impact of their operations. This includes reducing carbon emissions, waste, and energy and carbon use while complying with environmental regulations.


This dimension of ESG  targets the company’s impact on society as a whole. It is centered around a company’s influence on its employees, customers, and community.

Does the company make efforts to improve the diversity, safety, and well-being of its workforce? Does it deliver customer satisfaction? And does it give back to the community? These questions and more are central to evaluating the social impact of a company.


Governance captures how a business is managed, and the structure of its internal controls. In addition, it highlights the business’s adherence to policies, rules, and procedures surrounding issues such as bribery, information security, and fair and equitable compensation.

The Importance of ESG

The environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices of a company are becoming increasingly important to all of its stakeholders.

Consumers are becoming more and more concerned about our environment, society, and the welfare of employees. This is especially the case among younger consumers, particularly Millennials and Generation Z, as they tend to have a stronger focus on social justice than most other demographics. That being said, ESG factors are important for consumers and investors from all demographics, as they indicate a company’s trustworthiness. Continuous measurement of a company’s impact on the environment and its ability to build strong relationships with employees, customers, and the community at large is key to its long-term survival.

Download our free guide to learn more about ESG and best practices for improving sustainability performance.