GRESB Highlights 2018

As the Verdani team is busy preparing for the upcoming GRESB reporting season, we thought it would be useful to put together a high-level overview of GRESB’s most recent updates. Whether you are actively working with GRESB, are busy with your own sustainability programs, or like to stay well- informed in the industry, we’ve summarized the mission critical items below to help you stay on top of your GRESB game. With that, we are looking forward to a stellar reporting season in 2018 and welcome you to contact our team at [email protected] if any support is needed for your GRESB submission this year.
Below are eight of the most important updates to keep in mind when working with the 2018 GRESB survey. The highlighted items will help to ensure that you are starting off on the right foot for reporting season this year. (Repost from Verdani News & Insights on March 2, 2018)

1. Assessment Structure, Scoring and Methodology

GRESB has outlined a variety of changes from the previous year. Below is a highlight of the 2018 updates:

  • Indicators renumbering – Each category within the real estate indicators has been renamed to correspond with each GRESB Assessment Aspect (e.g. Building Certifications Q30.1 becomes BC1.1, etc.).
  • The random selection of 25% of participants for a more detailed check of all supporting evidence has been replaced by 100% of participants to be checked for the same subset of indicators.
  • GRESB has published the 2017 Real Estate Scoring document. Please note that the 2018 scoring methodology may differ partially or completely for certain indicators.
  • 2018 Assessment developments have been designed with the purpose of scoring performance in a way that encourages improvement in ESG performance (measured, tested performance).
  • By integrating API with BRE, participants can now directly connect their asset-level performance indicators to the GRESB platform.The GRESB provided table below identifies updates to existing indicators related to overall content, documentation, and survey structure:

2. Headline Content Developments

The below items provide further clarity for existing topics:

  • As a next step in evaluating portfolio performance, GRESB is now asking for the applicable building certification levels, although these will not be used for scoring in 2018 (see section 5 for more details).
  • GRESB will also be looking for the gross asset value (GAV) to be broken down into a per state basis within the U.S. (RC5.1).
  • Starting in 2018, participants will be asked to define the size of their Like-For-Like (LFL) scope. This change will not affect the data collection process.
  • Reporting on scope 3 emissions is now available. This update is only applicable to portfolios that currently track scope 3 emissions where previously, they may have been including the amounts within scope 1 or 2. This update does not apply to portfolios that do not have linked data coverage associated with tracking their scope 3 emissions. Splitting these categories out will not affect the overall score.
  • In 2018, GRESB will incentivize asset-level reporting for a minimum set of data through scoring, awarding up to 2.75 points.
  • In 2018, properties will now be rewarded for off-site generation of renewable energy.

3. Assessment Modules

There are now two assessment modules: Health & Well-being and Resilience. See details below.

  • 2018 is the last year of the GRESB Health & Well-being Module. Some of the health and well-being questions are now integrated within the GRESB assessment, but the entire module is still unscored. For additional details, click here.
  • GRESB is introducing a new Resilience Module for the 2018 Assessment cycle. This module will run for an estimated 3-year cycle and will remain unscored throughout that time. Additional details are available here.

4. Reminder – New GRESB Fees

Non-member submission fees are $4,100 USD per entity at the time of submittal. For additional details, see the schedule here. On a positive note, as part of the new fees, GRESB will now make the benchmark reports available to all participants, which will help portfolios better understand their strengths and weaknesses.

5. How Fitwel is recognized within GRESB

The scoring for BC1.1 of the Building Certification Aspect is based on the type of certification and the percentage of the portfolio covered by floor area. The portfolio may now provide a second row to highlight the same asset, if that asset has also received a health and wellbeing certification. Because each certification is evaluating different factors for each asset, this additional line item is permitted. Additionally, the portfolio coverage of each certification will be added up and benchmarked against other entities within the same comparison group (same property type and region). In general, reporting on more certifications with a higher percentage of portfolio coverage has had a positive impact on scoring, except when the percentage number was already ranked in the top quartile within its comparison group.
In other words, for BC1.1, each building is only permitted to document a total of two certifications. That being said, the best option should be chosen for:

  1. Building-based certification (LEED, IREM, BREEAM, Living Building Challenge, Green Globes)
  2. Health and wellbeing-based certification (WELL or Fitwel)

6. Using Existing Surveys vs. Upcoming Surveys

Use existing information for a maximum of 3 years (2014-2017)

RO2 (Q13) Entity-level governance and/or social risk assessments RO3.2 (Q15.2) Asset-level environmental and/or social risk assessments
SE2.1 (Q34.1) Employee satisfaction survey
SE3.2 (Q35.2) Monitoring employee safety
SE8.1 (Q37.1) Tenant satisfaction survey[/one-half-first]


Use existing information for a maximum of 4 years (2013-2017)
RO4 (Q16) Technical building assessments
RO5 (Q17) Energy efficiency improvement measures
RO6 (Q18) Water efficiency improvement measures
RO7 (Q19) Waste management improvement measures


7. Key Dates to Remember

  • March 1 – Pre-release materials will be available
  • April 1 – Ability to login to the portal
  • June 8 – Deadline to request a Response Check
  • June 15 – Validation starts
  • July 1 – All submissions due
  • September 5 – Assessment results distributed

8. Tips and Strategies for an Organized GRESB

To strategize on how to digest these changes, GRESB recently published a blog written by our Sustainability Manager, Kelly Hagarty, on tips for preparing for the upcoming GRESB season: Six Tips to a More Organized GRESB Reporting Season.

To view the GRESB sources used for the updates, click the following links to review the GRESB Assessment Pre-release announcement and the published Reference Guides and Modules.

This article is written by Jessica Loeper, Vice President, Verdani Partners.

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