GRESB Foundation Update Events November 2022 – Q&A

On November 29 & 30, GRESB hosted two GRESB Foundation Update & 2023 Standards Changes events online. Both events were well-attended and provided a forum for GRESB members and the wider real assets industry to discuss the 2023 Standards changes in detail. Below we share the most salient questions and answers from the events, as well as responses to the questions we were not able to address during the events due to time constraints.

You can find more information on the 2023 GRESB Standards changes and related resources here.

GRESB Foundation & Standards

  • Pending approval of the 2023 Foundation work plan, the Foundation will establish several Working Groups in 2023. Some of these Working Groups will  start operating early in 2023, with the aim to help inform the prioritization phase of the Standards Development process, in which the key topics to be addressed and scored in the 2024 GRESB Standards are identified.

    Other Working groups may start later in the year and will address topics to be covered by the GRESB Standards on a medium and/or longer term. Announcements regarding the recruitment of Working Group members will be shared soon.

  • The GRESB Standards will continue evolving on an annual cycle. However, going forward, the approach will be twofold and split into two interrelated workstreams:

    • Work on the changes for the coming year
    • Work on the strategic direction of the GRESB Standards in the medium and long term.

    Both workstreams will be based on stakeholder consultation to not only provide an opportunity to input or feedback, but to also allow more visibility and ability to anticipate the changes.  

    The plan is to publish changes to the GRESB Standards early in Q4 of the year preceding their implementation. The medium and long-term strategic priorities will be published in Q1 of each year.

  • GRESB plans to release the 2023 guidance documents early in Q1 2023. Contrary to previous years, the Scoring Document will be released together with the Reference Guide.

  • Moving towards a better recognition of performance is one of the top priorities for GRESB over the next couple of years.

    This transition to real performance assessment will begin with the start of scoring intensities in the future.

  • Foundation however recognizes that this issue will need to be closely monitored, in light of the current major developments such as the adoption of the new UN Convention on Biological Diversity in December 2022 and how it will frame ESG reporting. As such, the Foundation will continue monitoring the work of the market-led, science based Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) and consider the most relevant framework to GRESB stakeholders, with the intention to align the GRESB Standards biodiversity disclosures.

  • Addressing the role of taxonomy compliance in the GRESB Standards has not been an issue that is currently prioritized for review by the GRESB Foundation.

    The GRESB vision published earlier this year however includes the principle of aligning with, and seeking to influence, relevant frameworks, such as regulatory requirements, and widely adopted reporting standards. Alignment with industry and regulatory frameworks and consideration to sector and regional differences is thus part of the Standards development process and a consideration for any change considered to the standards.

  • The GRESB Foundation deemed the existence of Net Zero policy an important element of this update, without imposing a single definition of Net Zero. As with other policies in the Standards, this change does not assess the content of the policy but instead rewards the internal commitment to Net Zero shown by establishing a policy.

    The provided evidence must demonstrate the existence of formal policy document(s) that address(es) net zero and not simply a list of general goals and/or commitments. Overall, all requirements outlined for the other policy indicators need to be met for the evidence for the Net Zero policy as well. The Net Zero policy does not need to be a standalone document but needs to be at least a separate, clearly distinguished section within a larger policy document.

  • In 2023, GRESB will start scoring climate risk indicators. In addition, as of 2023 the upload of evidence to support the existence of risk identification and impact assessment processes will be mandatory.

    Explanations in the open text boxes provided in the indicators are not sufficient but it is required to upload documents or URLs leading to pages explaining the risk identification and impact assessment processes. Further details about the evidence can be added in the specific open text boxes underneath the evidence upload.

  • Participants need to provide evidence showing the existence of a formal risk identification and/or impact assessment process. The evidence needs to specifically address each transition risk issue selected (Policy & legal, Technology, Market, and Reputation). Examples of appropriate evidence include, but are not limited to: A document describing the entity’s transition risk assessments or other tangible proof of the entity’s risk assessment activity. Acceptable evidence may include an extract of a procedure undertaken such as register or matrix, checklists, scenario analysis, or a section of a risk management plan addressing transition risks.

    One-off assessments of transition risk, such as the GRESB Transition Risk Report, can be used as evidence only in combination with further proof of a formal process but for both indicators on risk identification and impact assessment. Please note that the GRESB Transition Risk Report would only enable participants to select the issue “Policy & legal.” The certification of buildings is not sufficient to support the existence of a risk management process.

  • GRESB introduces new topics, such as Net Zero, in the Standards without scoring them in the first year to not cause significant disruptions within the benchmarks and to keep year-on-year comparability as high as possible. Furthermore, not scoring issues/indicators in the first year allows the industry to familiarize itself with the new topics and requirements before factoring it into the Assessment scores.

  • Local differences are taken into account by GRESB’s peer benchmarking approach. Peer groups are created based on multiple characteristics, including the location of the fund’s assets. By taking the location into account, regional differences are considered in the Assessment. In case local regulation limits data collection for participants, they are not penalized compared to their peers as all are subject to the same local regulation.

  • DEI is one of the topics identified as top priority by the GRESB Foundation and one of the new working groups starting next year will discuss this issue and its implementation in the GRESB Standard in more detail. Regional differences and the accounting of them will be part of this discussion. For now, the GRESB Peer Group benchmarking approach will provide comparable results to all participants taking into account the location.

  • In the context of the GRESB Assessments, “exposure to physical risk factors” refers to the situation in which an asset is located in a spot at which a specific physical risk factor (e.g., flood, hurricane, drought) is expected or modeled to occur. This may differ from the financial definition of “exposure.” So, while an asset may be exposed to droughts, for example, the financial exposure could be very low if the asset has excellent water reuse systems in place. As described in materials provided, identified exposure to particular physical risk factors is not rated/scored in the Assessments. Rather, only that the entity has a systematic procedure for identifying exposures to physical risk factors. Quantified absolute measurement of physical climate risk is a highly complex topic for which we have not yet specified a methodology. However, physical climate risk is a prioritized topic by the GRESB Foundation and will be addressed by one of the working groups set up for next year.

  • To be eligible to report a dedicated employee for whom DEI is a core responsibility, this person must have work tasks specifically related to DEI. It is not required that this person has a specific DEI-related job title as long as DEI is part of the core responsibilities of the employee.


  • GRESB currently enables infrastructure assets to report on social value in the indicator “Output and impact.” There are currently no widely established frameworks to measure impact, which is why this is not currently a scoring metric in the Asset Performance Component. We are initially moving to better measuring and rewarding performance and will look at further including impact following that.

  • Yes, assets who fall under the “Renewable Power” sector will also be subject to the scoring changes. For these assets, it means that 60% of the available points for GH1 are awarded for completing data for the metric “Emissions avoided: Reporting-year performance,” 10% for “Emissions avoided: Reporting-year target,” 10% for “Emissions avoided: Future-year target,” and 20% for answering and completing the mandatory information for the sub-question: “Does the entity have a GHG emissions reduction target aligned with Net Zero?”. Note that if you select yes, you will need to provide baseline and end years and indicate to which scope the net zero target applies.

Real Estate

  • GRESB is already addressing Embodied Carbon as part of the 2023 changes (please refer to the 2023 List of Changes) and a clear direction has been given by the Foundation that the issue should be researched for further development in the Standards. The focus here is first the development of new buildings but increasing the scope of embodied carbon assessment in the future will be part of the upcoming research in this area.

  • GRESB is changing the requirements for reporting renewable energy and aligning the GRESB guidance relating to Renewable Energy with the Scope 2 Quality Criteria of the GHG Protocol to only reward participants for actively procuring renewable energy and no longer for solely being connected to a grid that receives a portion of its energy from renewable sources.

    One way to actively procure renewable energy is by purchasing RECs. To be eligible for reporting the renewable energy in the GRESB Assessment, the participant must have purchased all of their RECs for the consumption of the reporting year and legitimately retired them prior to reporting the data in the GRESB Assessment.

  • GRESB is changing its reporting boundary requirements in 2023. In previous years, entities could exclude assets with an ownership stake of below 25% from their reporting scope. As of 2023, participants have to report all assets that they have any ownership stake in.

    This change will have an impact on the aggregation of all indicators reported at the asset level (RA2-RA5, EN1, GH1, WT1, WS1, BC). The percentage of ownership will be used as a weight in the aggregation of the asset-level data up to the property sub-type level.

    Furthermore, the percentage of ownership will be used in the aggregation of the property type used for the creation of the Peer Group.

  • The list of 2023 Assessment changes is final and there will be no further changes to the 2023 GRESB Assessment. Addressing net zero performance will be a topic of further discussion with the GRESB Foundation for future developments of the GRESB Standard. As part of this work, GRESB is in close contact with CRREM.

  • GRESB will not introduce any additional data fields in the Asset Spreadsheet and the changes in 2023 will be limited to the ones already disclosed in the 2023 List of Changes. Therefore, there is no additional granularity required in reporting waste data.

  • The efficiency measure indicators are used to provide additional context to the provided consumption data. If a new asset is built including specific efficiency measures, these can still be reported.

  • Please refer to the Scoring Document. Each reported renewable energy source or low carbon technology has a weight of 1. The portfolio coverage is subsequently used as a multiplier. Hence, if a participant installed renewable energy sources or low carbon technologies in all their assets, i.e. 100% portfolio coverage, the participant would receive a full score for the indicator.

    It is possible to report ‘Other’ answers. In the field for ‘Other’ answers, it is possible to report multiple answers.

  • Livability and Walkability Scores are predefined metrics that are calculated in a standardized way. Please refer to the common definitions for these metrics to calculate them. In case these metrics are measured, participants are able to report accordingly in the Assessment. There is no evidence requirement for this indicator.