10 Sustainability Initiatives in Property

We are keen to support Sustainability initiatives in the property sector and with a myriad of acronyms, organisations and options, we thought it would be useful to maintain a register of go-to resources for organisations to make better decisions about their sustainability strategy.

If you are a property manager, investment manager, industry consultant or supplier and would like to contribute to these resources, please send us your information to info@propertymarkets.news

Green Star Ratings

Launched by Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) in 2003, Green Star is Australia’s largest voluntary and truly holistic sustainability rating system for buildings, fitouts and communities. Green Star uses a robust, transparent and independent assessment process, enabling qualifying projects to proudly display the Green Star Certification Trademark. Only projects that have been certified by the GBCA can claim to achieve a Green Star rating.

Green Star assesses the sustainability attributes of a project through impact categories. Each category groups a number of issues related to a certain sustainability impact; these are known as ‘credits’.

A credit addresses an initiative that improves or has the potential to improve a project’s sustainability performance; each of these initiatives is a criterion. Credits are weighted in relation to each other by varying the number of points available. Each credit defines a clear outcome that a project must meet. Where the outcome is verified to have been met, a project will be rewarded with the relevant available points.

Once all credits are assessed, the total number of points achieved is compared against the available points in the rating tool and a certified rating is awarded.

For more information see – https://new.gbca.org.au/rate/green-star/

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NABERS (which stands for the National Australian Built Environment Rating System) provides simple, reliable, and comparable sustainability measurement you can trust across building sectors like hotels, shopping centres, apartments, offices, data centres, and more.

NABERS provides a rating from one to six stars for buildings efficiency across:

  • Energy
  • Water
  • Waste and
  • Indoor environment
  • Carbon Neutral

This helps building owners to understand their building’s performance versus other similar buildings, providing a benchmark for progress. Ratings are valid for 12 months and must be re-assessed each year.

The main difference between NABERS Rating and the Green Star Rating is that Green Star rates the design of the building (both at the conceptual and at the ‘as built’ stages) and NABERS rates the effectiveness of the operation of the building (after it is built and is operational)

For more information got to – https://www.nabers.gov.au/

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The WELL Building Standard is a vehicle for buildings and organizations to deliver more thoughtful and intentional spaces that enhance human health and well-being. The standards is managed by the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™). IWBI use the WELL Building Standard™, which focus exclusively on the ways that buildings, and everything in them, can improve our comfort, drive better choices, and generally enhance, not compromise, our health and wellness.

The WELL v2™ pilot is a recently launched version of its popular WELL Building Standard, and the WELL Community Standard™ pilot is a district scale rating system that sets a new global benchmark for healthy communities.

IWBI convenes and mobilizes the global wellness real estate community through management of the WELL AP™ credential, the pursuit of applicable research, the development of educational resources, and advocacy for policies that promote health and wellness everywhere.

There are ten concepts in WELL v2:

For more information got to – https://v2.wellcertified.com/wellv2/en/overview

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The Living Building Challenge℠ is an attempt to dramatically raise the bar from a paradigm of doing less harm to one in which we view our role as a steward and co-creator of a true Living Future. The Challenge defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment today and acts to rapidly diminish the gap between current limits and the end-game positive solutions we seek.

Projects that achieve Living Building® certification can claim to be the greenest anywhere, and will serve as role models in their communities for redefining the future of the built environment. Whether the project is restorative, regenerative, or operates with a net zero impact, it has a home in the construct of the Living Building Challenge.

Registration is the first step toward Living Building Challenge certification and is accessible through ILFI membership. Registered projects can benefit from many Institute resources, such as the opportunity to submit program clarification and exception requests through the Dialogue. To register a project, teams will need to provide basic information about the project, owner, and team, most of which can be updated later as the project evolves. Once projects have completed construction and a 12-month performance period, they can certify under one of the many certification paths.

Certification is to either a Petal Certification (which addresses the 10 core imperative items below plus all items in either Water, Energy or Materials) or a Living Certification standard (which addresses all 20 items).

The WiredScore Smart Council has been created to provide clarity, leadership and guidance on what constitutes a smart building, and is comprised of global forward-thinking companies including Allianz Real Estate, Allied Properties REIT, Art-Invest Real Estate, AXA Investment Managers, British Land, Commerz Real, Deliveroo, Derwent London, EDGE, Fifth Wall, Gecina, Great Portland Estates, Hines, KingSett Capital, KPMG, Legal & General, Nuveen Real Estate, Patrizia AG, PGIM Real Estate, Rudin Management Company, U+I.

This marks the first time landlords, tenants and real estate leaders of such calibre have come together to combine their knowledge and expertise to provide a dedicated approach to the impact of smart buildings within real estate.

The WiredScore Smart Council will work with WiredScore to establish clear criteria and standards that properties must meet to be certified smart, helping landlords navigate the complex new world of smart buildings.

SmartScore champions cutting-edge technology in real estate. Providing a global standard, SmartScore identifies best in class smart buildings that deliver an exceptional user experience, drive cost efficiency, meet high standards of sustainability and are fully future-proof.

Why do we need smart buildings?
Outlines the three trends that underpin the move to smart buildings: the increasing use of technology in our personal lives, the changing nature of our professional lives, including the recent experience of working from home, and the climate crisis.

Defining a smart building
Answers the question ‘what is a smart building?’ with a user-centric, outcome-orientated approach; a smart building delivers outstanding outcomes for all users, through digital technology, to exceed their evolving expectations. The four outcomes that users care about above all others are: an inspirational experience, a sustainable building, a cost-efficient building and one that is future-proof by design

Measuring whether a building is smart requires two different views:

  1. The view of the user: does the building provide functionality to delight and attract people, and resolve the challenges that users typically face?
  2. The technological view: are the technological foundations to deliver those functionalities in place?

What does a smart building deliver?
Discusses the functionalities a smart building should offer its users: individual and collaborative productivity, health and wellbeing, community and services, sustainability, maintenance and optimization, and security.

The technological foundations for smart.
Discusses the technological foundations that underpin those functionalities, including digital connectivity, building systems, a landlord integration network, governance, cybersecurity, and data sharing.

The S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) is an annual evaluation of companies’ sustainability practices. It covers over 10,000 companies from around the world. The CSA focuses on sustainability criteria that are both industry-specific and financially material and has been doing so since 1999.

The CSA has become a reference tool for companies to gauge the financial materiality of their sustainability performance from an investor perspective and to prepare themselves to address upcoming sustainability trends. With 61 industry-specific questionnaires, the CSA leads the field in helping companies make the link between sustainability and their business strategies.

The 2022 Results show the current companies in Australia participating in the scheme

GRESB is an industry-driven organization committed to assessing the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance of real assets globally, including real estate portfolios (public, private and direct), real estate debt portfolios, and infrastructure. Assessments by GRESB are guided by what investors and the industry consider to be material issues in the sustainability performance of real asset investments, and are aligned with international reporting frameworks, such as GRI, PRI, SASB, DJSI, TCFD recommendations, the Paris Climate Agreement, UN SDGs, region and country specific disclosure guidelines and regulations.

Each year, organisation who report outcome to GRESB assist them to generates ESG benchmarks for the industry. These include;

  • Real Estate Benchmark
  • Real Estate Development Benchmark
  • Infrastructure Fund Benchmark
  • Infrastructure Asset Benchmark

Assessment participants receive comparative business intelligence on where they stand against their peers, insight into the actions they can take to improve their ESG performance and a communication platform to engage with investors. Investors use the ESG data and GRESB’s analytical tools to monitor their investments, engage with their managers, and make decisions that lead to a more sustainable and resilient real asset industry.

For more information see – https://gresb.com/

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The PRI is the world’s leading proponent of responsible investment. It works:

  • to understand the investment implications of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors;
  • to support its international network of investor signatories in incorporating these factors into their investment and ownership decisions.

The PRI acts in the long-term interests:

  • of its signatories;
  • of the financial markets and economies in which they operate and ultimately of the environment and society as a whole.

The PRI is truly independent. It encourages investors to use responsible investment to enhance returns and better manage risks, but does not operate for its own profit; it engages with global policymakers but is not associated with any government; it is supported by, but not part of, the United Nations.

The six Principles for Responsible Investment are a voluntary and aspirational set of investment principles that offer a menu of possible actions for incorporating ESG issues into investment practice.

The Principles were developed by investors, for investors. In implementing them, signatories contribute to developing a more sustainable global financial system. They have attracted a global signatory base representing a majority of the world’s professionally managed investments.

  • Principle 1: We will incorporate ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.
  • Principle 2: We will be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.
  • Principle 3: We will seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest.
  • Principle 4: We will promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.
  • Principle 5: We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.
  • Principle 6: We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.

For more information see – www.unpri.org

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The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme, established by the  National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 (NGER Act), is a single national framework for reporting and disseminating company information about greenhouse gas emissions, energy production, energy consumption and other information specified under NGER legislation. The Clean Energy Regulator administers the NGER in addition to other schemes legislated by the Australian Government for measuring, managing, reducing or offsetting Australia’s carbon emissions, inlcuding;

As an economic regulator, the Clean Energy Regulator does not have any direct role or powers under our legislation to enforce work health and safety, environmental protection, or planning laws. However, the Clean Energy Regulator does share information with relevant regulators in appropriate circumstances.

All controlling corporations that meet a threshold under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme, must apply to be registered under section 12 of the  NGER Act.

Responsibility for meeting obligations to undertake a project in accordance with the law always rests with the business or individual concerned.

For more information see –

  1. http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/
  2. http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/NGER/About-the-National-Greenhouse-and-Energy-Reporting-scheme

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Race To Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.

It mobilizes a coalition of leading net zero initiatives, representing 733 cities, 31 regions, 3,067 businesses, 173 of the biggest investors, and 622 Higher Education Institutions. These ‘real economy’ actors join 120 countries in the largest ever alliance committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest. Collectively these actors now cover nearly 25% global CO2 emissions and over 50% GDP.

The objective is to build momentum around the shift to a decarbonized economy ahead of COP26, where governments must strengthen their contributions to the Paris Agreement. This will send governments a resounding signal that business, cities, regions and investors are united in meeting the Paris goals and creating a more inclusive and resilient economy.

The High-level Climate Champions require that the commitments brought forward by networks and initiatives recognized in the Race to Zero campaign meet a minimum set of procedural criteria.  These process criteria represent the “Starting Line” for the race, so meeting them does not necessarily imply that an actor is on track to net zero, only that they have begun the process.

These ‘meta-criteria’ are known as the Four ’P’s:

1.     Pledge: Pledge at the head-of-organization level to reach (net) zero GHGs as soon as possible, and by midcentury at the latest, in line with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5C. Set an interim target to achieve in the next decade, which reflects maximum effort toward or beyond a fair share of the 50% global reduction in CO2 by 2030 identified in the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C

2.     Plan: Within 12 months of joining, explain what actions will be taken toward achieving both interim and longer-term pledges, especially in the short- to medium-term.

3.     Proceed: Take immediate action toward achieving (net) zero, consistent with delivering interim targets specified.

4.     Publish: Commit to report publicly both progress against interim and long-term targets, as well as the actions being taken, at least annually. To the extent possible, report via platforms that feed into the UNFCCC Global Climate Action Portal.

For more information see – https://unfccc.int/climate-action/race-to-zero-campaign

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More and more commercial buildings and switching to renewable energy as a power source for its occupiers. Installations can either be

  • directly installed by an owner or occupier
  • installed and managed by a third party but funded by the owner / occupier, or
  • installed, managed and owned by a third party who leases roof space from the owner.

Large scale industrial and retail landlords have used one or more of these strategies to facilitate a 100% renewable energy target across their portfolio.

Renewable energy production is assisted by the Clean Energy Regulator who seeks to achieve the Renewable Energy Target’s across two schemes:

  • The Large-scale Renewable Energy Target, which encourages investment in renewable power stations to achieve 33 000 gigawatt hours of additional renewable electricity generation by 2020 (yet to be up dated), and
  • The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, which supports small-scale installations like household solar panels and solar hot water systems.

The Large-scale Renewable Energy Target is designed to deliver the majority of the  2020 target, while the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme supports the installation of small-scale renewables, such as household solar rooftop panels and solar hot water systems.

The Renewable Energy Target operates through the creation of tradable certificates which create an incentive for additional generation of electricity from renewable sources. Certificates are created and issued through the REC Registry —an online trading platform managed by the Clean Energy Regulator.

Through the scheme, large renewable power stations and the owners of small-scale systems are eligible to create certificates for every megawatt hour of power they generate—creating the ‘supply’ side of the certificate market. Wholesale purchasers ​​​of electricity, mainly electricity retailers, buy these certificates to meet their renewable energy obligations—forming the ‘demand’ side of the certificate market. Wholesale purchasers of electricity then surrender these certificates to the Clean Energy Regulator in percentages set by regulation each year.

The number of certificates issued to an individual or business is determined by the am​ount of electricity generated or displaced by an eligible system. Eligible systems may include renewable energy power stations, small-scale solar panels, wind and hydro systems, or solar water heaters and heat pumps.

There is also a secondary market for certificates that does not involve the Clean Energy Regulator, and includes financial institutions, traders, agents and installers.​

See also https://www.rec-registry.gov.au/rec-registry/app/public/about-the-registry

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Building materials account for about half of all materials used and about half the solid waste generated worldwide. They have an environmental impact at every step of the building process—extraction of raw materials, processing, manufacturing, transportation, construction and disposal at the end of a building’s useful life.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that globally buildings are responsible for about 30 per cent of raw materials used, 42 per cent of energy used, 25 per cent of water used, 12 per cent of land use, 40 per cent of atmospheric emissions, 20 per cent of water effluents, 25 per cent of solid waste and 13 per cent of other releases (Centre for Design RMIT, 2003). 2006–07 data from the National Waste Report 2010 showed that 22 707 000 tonnes or 52 per cent of Australia’s waste was recycled. Of this, 42 per cent was from the C&D waste stream.

Buildings and their users are responsible for almost a quarter of Australia’s greenhouse emissions. The energy embodied in existing building stock in Australia is equivalent to ten years of the nation’s energy consumption. Choice of materials and design principles has a significant, but previously unrecognised, impact on the energy required to construct a building. Embodied energy is one measure of the environmental impact of construction and of the effectiveness of recycling, particularly for CO2 emissions. The embodied energy of a building is over 30 times the annual operating energy of office buildings. Making buildings more energy efficient usually requires more embodied energy, thus increasing the ratio even further (CSIRO Material Science and Engineering, 2009).

The reduction in embodied energy can be achieved via;

  1. Reuse buildings instead of constructing new ones.
  2. Specify low-carbon concrete mixes.
  3. Limit carbon-intensive materials.
  4. Choose lower carbon alternatives.
  5. Choose carbon sequestering materials.
  6. Reuse materials.
  7. Use high-recycled content materials.
  8. Maximize structural efficiency.
  9. Use fewer finish materials
  10. Minimize waste

Some recent examples of reducing the emobided energy in projects includes Stockland’s use of Reconophalt asphalt and Mirvac’s apartment, made using waste materials.

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Waste minimization entails limiting the amount of waste that is generated, thereby helping to eliminate the production of persistent and harmful wastes, effectively supporting efforts that promote a society that is sustainable. Thus, waste minimization involves a change of societal patterns that relate to production and consumption as well as redesigning products to eliminate the generation of waste.

Best practice in Waste Minimization includes;

  1. Optimization of resources
  2. Scrap metal reuse
  3. Quality control improvement and process monitoring
  4. Exchange of Waste
  5. Shipping to the point of use
  6. Zero waste
  7. Reduce the Use of Packaging Materials
  8. Reduce Harmful Wastewater
  9. Hold Your Employees Accountable
  10. Update Your Recycling Program
  11. Waste Minimization for Households
  12. Waste Minimization in Building Construction
  13. Assess Your Processes

Large scale waste contractors are well placed to advise building owners and investors on how best to implement waste reduction measures.

Recent examples of waste minimisation strategies include the JJ Richards Pulpmaster system transforms food wastes from tenants and customers into recyclable pulp that is then used to produce organic fertiliser and bio-diesel fuels. See https://www.jjrichards.com.au/about/divisions-affiliations/pulpmaster-australia/

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