GRESB Real Estate Net Zero Working Group

Working Group expected to run from February to May 2023

Call for applications – open until 26 January 2023


Net Zero has been identified as the number one priority ESG topic that needs to be addressed and scored in the GRESB Real Estate Standard. In 2022 this topic has been subject to multiple discussions between the RESC members. The group converged on the need to first define what Net Zero means in the context of the GRESB Real Estate Standard, and subsequently use this definition to determine the way Net Zero is addressed and scored.

While Net Zero is unquestionably a very material issue for the real estate industry, the way particular stakeholders assess whether their buildings or portfolios are Net Zero (or “on the path to”) still widely depends on a variety of underlying assumptions and beliefs. This puts various stakeholders at seemingly opposite ends of the table with regards to what Net Zero means, and what constitutes a viable journey to achieve Net Zero. As a consequence, the GRESB Foundation agreed on the need to form a Working Group of experts across the GRESB membership, to provide them with an independent review of the various Net Zero perspectives, and help them determine the most appropriate way to evolve the GRESB Standards going forward.


The purpose for this Working Group is to explore the core assumptions and beliefs that drive divergence in what Net Zero means for real estate. This will be done through the identification and mapping of the core issues at the center of why a common definition of Net Zero in real estate is so difficult. The Working Group will attempt to deconstruct the various dimensions of scope and measurement of Net Zero performance, and shed light on critical assumptions that underlie major sources of disagreement.


The output of the Working Group will feed into the GRESB Standards Development Process by informing the Real Estate Standard Committee.

The format of the output will be an independent ledger of major areas of discussions linking (1) key lines of argumentation, (2) validating/disproving assumptions, and (3) outlining pros and cons of each in light of their scientific basis, market technicalities as well as risks and challenges.

Examples of key areas of discussion to be explored by the Working Group:

  1. Role of energy efficiency in the journey to Net Zero: the extent to which energy consumption/efficiency constitutes a critical element on a path to achieving Net Zero versus only considering overall GHG emissions.
  2. Level of Net Zero status: whether the assessment of an entity’s Net Zero status takes place at the (aggregated) portfolio level, or rather takes place at the asset level.
  3. Scope of a Net Zero strategy: whether the scope of a Net Zero strategy for a real estate portfolio should be limited to what is under the operational control of the landlord, or rather include tenant emissions. In addition, whether such a strategy should consider the life-cycle stage of an asset (and consequently include embodied carbon) or not.
  4. Carbon accounting: uncover the effectiveness of location-based and market-based emissions calculation methodologies, as well as their respective constituents (e.g. renewable energy procurement).
  5. Use of carbon offsets: explore practical pitfalls of offset markets and how these can be mitigated.


  • Application Portal open until January 26, 2023
  • Applicants informed of the decision w/c February 13, 2023
  • Start: first WG meeting on February 21, 2023
  • Duration: 10-12 weeks
  • Output and Final Report to be delivered to the Real Estate Standards Committee by May 5, 2023 (to be presented/reviewed at the mid-May committee meeting)

Expectations of WG Members 

  • Members of Working Groups are expected to not only provide input in an advisory capacity, but to also carry out the necessary work to develop the research and outputs specified in the detailed scope, and within the planned timeline.
  • Members of Working Groups must be able to dedicate at least on average 2.5-3 hours per week to the WG research and meetings.
  • This work may be done individually, in collaboration with other group members, or in collaboration with external advisors or experts
  • Work can take place in formal meetings of the Working Group but also between times in any way in which members find suitable to achieve the deliverables and outputs
  • The Working Group Chair will have the responsibility to ensure the WG conduct the requested research and produce the report stipulated in the WG output/deliverables.
  • GRESB Staff, acting as WG Secretary, will assist the Chair to monitor the progress made by the WG, as well as provide guidance and administrative support.

Link to Net Zero Working Group Application Form.

If you have any questions or would like to recommend an individual or firm that you know is well suited for this opportunity, please let us know below.

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