4 ESG Takeaways for the Real Estate Sector from the 2017 GRESB Siemens Spring Conference

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The first annual GRESB Spring Conference took place last week at the Crystal in London, hosted by Siemens, and those of us who were there are still processing the many insights and takeaways from the event.

The venue was full of inspiring people — attendees, presenters and moderators — all gathered in one place. The combined energy of the group could be felt in the auditorium seats, over coffee and during the networking drinks in the lobby.

The program was arranged in three topical tracks:

  • Climate Risk and Resilience – where we got clear about the challenges we are facing as an industry.
  • ESG Solutions in Real Estate – where we took a deep dive into ESG solutions helping us mitigate climate risks.
  • Impact of Digitalization – where we looked at the impact of digitalization on the real estate sector.

Here are 4 takeaways from the event, inspired by the beautiful building we were in, shaped by the speakers and discussed during the panels.

1) We must be long-term optimists

Let’s be honest … there’s still a lot of short-term thinking going on in the industry. In our everyday lives as investors, asset owners, fund managers and consultants, it’s easy to lose track of what our long-term goals and responsibilities are while having to meet targets over shorter time-frames.

Despite this, the message from the presenters was encouraging. We were told that we can’t be afraid or daunted by the challenges we are facing. That ESG is not a short-term program, it’s a long-term strategy with sustainable real assets and resilient capital markets as the end goal. And that our best move is to be long-term optimists - making our day to day decisions, setting our interim targets - but with the end goal always in sight.

2) We can’t forget the basics

We learned about the importance of scientific evidence and science based targets to make things real for people and to get buy in through the whole chain from developers, investors, managers and tenants. But at the same time, we heard that we need to keep things simple and to stick to the basics.

So before we chase down the next big idea and before we bolt on a shiny new program we should ask the fundamental questions and revisit the basic information about how our buildings are being managed -  otherwise we could be missing the mark.

3) Getting good data is imperative but it’s (still) all about the people

We learned about the remarkable technology now available that allows us to optimize our buildings - driving savings and improving transparency. To add to that, we heard about the potential of cognitive buildings, machine learning and the IoT to help us move towards sustainability.

It’s clear that large amounts of data can turn into value for building owners and tenants and we heard many success stories from our speakers. And yet, we also learned that data doesn’t matter very much if we don’t get the human element right.

If we can use digitization to influence human psychology and if we can use data to tell creative stories that match the motivation of our stakeholders, then we’ll have amazing impact.

4) The ultimate takeaway

Events like last week, bring our community together, help us get out of our silos and stimulate dialogue between all market players – not just the “sustainability advocates”. For ESG to be fully embedded we can’t rely on a few skilled people, but the builders, owners and users of our buildings must also be empowered and involved. The data our buildings generate needs to mean something to all stakeholders and not just to a few analysts. In short, we must all speak the same language and have the same goals. GRESB has an important role to play in making this connection.

In addition to our September Annual GRESB Assessment Result Launches around the world, we are planning to develop multiple, regional Spring Conferences in 2018. Our goal will be to bring more voices into the conversation, particularly from fund managers and our institutional investor and bank members.

We’re all on this journey together. A journey to stimulate a market transformation. We invite you to continue along the journey with us.

Thank you to Siemens for hosting us at the Crystal. Thanks also to BPP, the UK Green Building Council, IPF, Responsible Investor and INREV for their support. And thanks to all the presenters for the great presentations.

If you missed it, review more highlights on Twitter with a search for #GSC17, and review the presentations on Slideshare.

Andrew Rich

The presenters and moderators at the event were the following:

    Sander Paul van Tongeren, GRESB

    Sander Paul is Managing Director and co-founder of GRESB, which is widely recognized as the global standard for assessing the ESG performance of real assets globally, including real estate portfolios and infrastructure assets. More than 250 members, of which about 60 are pension funds and their fiduciaries, use the GRESB data in their investment management and engagement process, with a clear goal to optimize the risk/return profile of their investments.

    Before joining GRESB in 2015, Sander Paul worked for 6 years as Head of Sustainability Real Estate and Infrastructure at APG Asset Management. Within APG he was responsible for integrating sustainability and governance across APG’s global real estate and infrastructure portfolio. APG is one of the largest institutional investors globally and invests the pension assets of more than 4.5 million participants and manages pension assets of approximately EUR 380 billion, with an allocation of 10% to real estate and 3% to

    Before APG he worked as a Portfolio Manager at CBRE Global Investors (formerly known as ING Real Estate) managing a pan-European office fund and two pan-European industrial funds.

    Sander Paul co-founded and served on EPRA’s Sustainability Reporting Committee and INREV’s Sustainability Committee and was actively involved in UN PRI’s Property Advisory Group and IIGCC’s Property Working Group.

    He holds a Master’s degree in Business Economics as well as an Executive Master degree of Finance and Control from the University of Amsterdam and a Master of Studies in Real Estate from the Amsterdam School of Real Estate.

    Furthermore, he is member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (specialisation Environment).

    Mark Jenkinson, Siemens

    City Director London, Urban Development, Siemens Global Center of Competence Cities

    Based out of Siemens’ Global Center of Competence for Cities at the Crystal in the east of London, Mark oversees Siemens’ city approach in the Nordics, the UK and Ireland.

    In March 2013, Mark also took on the role of City Director for London – a key focus of the role is to support London’s sustainable development through the provision of smart, efficient technological solutions and services for building, energy and transport infrastructure.

    Mark joined Siemens in 1993 and since then has taken on a variety of roles and responsibilities across Siemens in a wide range of industries and markets in the UK, across mainland Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

    Sarah Ratcliffe, BBP

    Sarah is Programme Director of the BBP. Sarah has over 15 years experience advising many of the UK’s leading property investors and developers on sustainability issues. As a founding Director of Upstream (acquired by JLL in 2007), she was instrumental in establishing some of the earliest sector sustainability benchmarks including the Property Environment Group, NextGeneration and The Third Dimension. As a European Director at JLL Sarah was responsible for leading the firm’s sustainability consultancy in UK and Europe and sat on the Global Sustainability Board. In addition to various independent consultancy projects, Sarah is now a visiting lecturer on Sustainable Real Estate at Cass Business School and a Board Director of the Sustainable Development Foundation.

    Prof. Dr. Sven Bienert, Regensburg University

    After graduating as a qualified bank employee Prof. Dr. Sven Bienert MRICS REV studied real estate economics and business administration with the specialization in finance at the University Lueneburg. He wrote his PhD-thesis at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg about the “Impact of Basel II on real estate project financing”. The thesis was awarded with distinction, i.e. „summa cum laude“.

    Prof. Bienert worked for many years in top position for leading real estate companies and in the consulting business. Since April 2010 Prof. Dr. Bienert is Head of the IRE|BS Competence Center of Sustainable Real Estate at the University of Regensburg and university chair holder. Parallel he was from 2011 on active as a Managing Director for Probus Real Estate GmbH headquartered in Vienna (ca. 2,1 bil. assets under management) until 2013. Prof. Bienert is editor and author of many real estate books and won numerous research awards. Furthermore he works as an independent consultant and valuer. He is on the board of numerous real estate associations like DGNB („Immobilienbeirat“), ZIA („Nachhaltigkeitsbeirat“), Urban Land Institute (ULI Sustainability Fellow), Austrian Association of Real Estate Experts (ARE board member), „Verein zur Förderung der Qualität in der Immobilienwirtschaft“ (ImmQu board member), Corporate Governance Initiative of the German Real Estate Industry (ICG board member) and “Deutschen Vereinigung für Finanzanalyse und Asset Management e.V.” (DVFA heading the real estate commission). In June 2015 he was appointed to the supervisory board of the ZIMA Holding AG. Since December 2016 he is member of the supervisory board of the real estate group CA Immo.

    Tatiana Bosteels, Hermes Investment Management

    Tatiana Bosteels, Director Responsibility and Head of Responsible Property Investment at Hermes Investment Management leader in
    responsible investment for almost thirty years managing £28.5 bi AUM (Dec 2016).

    In 2015 Tatiana has integrated the Responsibility team with the task to develop Hermes carbon risk strategy and to support integration of ESG across private markets: real estate, infrastructure and private equity. In parallel, since she joined in 2008, as Head of responsible Property investment she is in charge of the integration of ESG in real estate investment and asset management practices to protect and enhance asset value over time. Tatiana has a lead role in delivering Hermes advocacy programme challenging the investment industry to focus on holistic returns, with a focus on climate change, fiduciary duty, and positive impact finance.

    Chair Property Programme Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) and Board member Investment Commission UNEP Finance Initiative, she has been an active contributor to public policy and sector engagement. Tatiana is also active member of the Better Buildings Partnership, she sits in the British Property Federation’s sustainability committee and the advisory boards of the Building Performance Institute Europe and the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark.

    Tatiana has previous experience developing innovative sustainability programmes through public private partnerships. At the London Climate Change Agency, working for the London Deputy Mayor, she delivered the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP), and contributed to the first London ESCO. Her previous consultancy work covered UK and international climate change policy, carbon markets and instruments, sustainable urban development and third party energy efficiency financing.

    She holds an MSc in Environmental Management from Imperial College UK, an MSc in Mechanical Engineering from UCL Leuven Belgium, is an alumni of the LSE Development Institute and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

    Andrew Rich TH Real Estate

    With 15 years’ real estate experience, Andrew is the Fund Manager for the European Cities Fund, TH Real Estate’s flagship pan-European open-ended fund.
    Andrew joined the company in 2004 as Assistant Fund Manager on the UK Shopping Centre Fund, before then running the company’s UK Shop Fund for two years. Subsequent roles have included Fund Manager of the c.$830m UK Outlet Mall Partnership which he helped to set up in 2008 and Fund Director for the $2.1bn European Outlet Mall Fund, overseeing all Funds’ investment, development and asset management activities, forming close relationships with clients across the Funds, to ensure their objectives are met. Before joining the company, Andrew worked at Healey & Baker Investment Managers for three years.

    Andrew graduated in 2001 from Nottingham Trent University with a First Class BSc (Hons) in Real Estate Management. He qualified for RICS membership in December 2002 and passed the Investment Management Certificate in May 2004.

    Miles Keeping, IPF

    Miles Keeping is a Co-Founder Director of Hillbreak, a real estate sustainability consultancy and training provider.

    Miles’ technical specialism within the field of real estate sustainability has enabled him to become a leading practitioner within this field. He works with developers and owners of real estate to ensure that they can maximise the opportunities which a sustainable approach to their activities can bring, as well as to identify and manage relevant sustainability risks. He has a deep understanding of different organisations’ preferences for sustainability as well as the relevant regulatory drivers affecting their interests.

    As well as Miles’ work helping property owners, developers and occupiers to set and achieve appropriate sustainability targets, he is also regularly involved in trying to help the UK government to understand how best to develop and implement regulations affecting the sustainability of property.

    Miles has recently combined his role as a sustainability consultant with those as:

    • Chairman of the Green Property Alliance
    • Chairman of the World Green Building Council’s Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices Steering Group
    • Chairman of the Energy Performance Standards Group for the UK’s Department of Energy & Climate Change
    • Chairman of the Investment Property Forum’s Sustainability Interest Group
    • A UK Green Building Council Ambassador
    • A visiting Professor in Sustainable Real Estate at Oxford Brookes University

    Prior to establishing Hillbreak in 2015, Miles was a Partner at Deloitte. Before that, Miles was a Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, where he spent 11 years undertaking consultancy work, researching and teaching about real estate sustainability issues and worked for two other real estate consultancies. He is an accomplished communicator and frequently presents at international conferences and seminars. Miles sits on the editorial boards of the “International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development” and the “Journal of Property Investment & Finance”.

    Miles is a Chartered Surveyor as well as a Chartered Environmentalist.

    Alastair Mant UK-GBC

    Alastair Mant is Head of Industry Engagement at the UK Green Building Council, leading on member networks and research programmes. He is a Chartered Surveyor and was previously a director at a national property consultancy where he provided advice on sustainability issues throughout the property lifecycle and especially on asset management. His focus is on strategy, reporting and the link to business value. Alastair is Member of the RICS, a Practitioner of IEMA and a Fellow of the RSA.
    For more updates on sustainability, the built environment and occasionally Japan, you can follow him on Twitter @greenginger_UK.

    Terri Wills, World GBC

    Terri Wills is the CEO of the World Green Building Council, an organisation uniting 75 Green Building Councils enabling green building and sustainable communities through leadership and market transformation. Previously, Terri was with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group where she spearheaded C40’s networks that have had a direct impact on policy in over half of C40 cities. Terri also served as the London City Director for the Clinton Climate Initiative, worked with the Government of Ontario on clean technology and creative industry development, and worked for the British Broadcasting Corporation as a Head of Strategy. Terri is Canadian, based in London, UK

    About the WorldGBC
    The World Green Building Council is a global member network of Green Building Councils enabling green building and sustainable communities through leadership and market transformation. Our vision is a built environment that enables a high quality of life for all within limits the planet can support. See: www.worldgbc.org

    Caroline Hill, Land Securities

    Caroline joined Land Securities in April 2015, where she is delivering the company’s ambition for industry leadership on sustainability. She is responsible for both setting strategy and delivery. Her work is focused on creating jobs and opportunities, efficient use of natural resources and sustainable design and innovation. Recent achievements include moving the company to 100% renewable electricity provision and setting new science-based carbon and energy reduction targets. Prior to joining Land Securities, Caroline was COO of PwC’s Sustainability & Climate Change team where she worked with a number of clients to develop leading sustainability programmes.

    Simon Cox, Prologis

    Prologis is the leading global developer and owner of logistics property. Simon Cox is First Vice President Project Management and UK Sustainability Officer, directing strategy for sustainable development and overseeing the implementation of sustainable initiatives throughout the UK business.
    Simon has worked as a client-side project manager for over 20 years, procuring the delivery of a wide variety of complex developments.  He began his career working on hotel, leisure and mixed use schemes before joining Prologis in 2006 and becoming a specialist in the sustainable development of industrial and distribution buildings.

    John Davies, Derwent London plc

    John Davies is the Head of Sustainability at Derwent London plc, and is responsible for creating and leading the company wide sustainability agenda.

    John is a highly experienced sustainability management professional, and is recognised as an expert in several sectors, in particular commercial property, and has developed and led the creation of many industry leading sustainability programmes and strategies, and sits on many industry panels and committees.

    Prior to joining Derwent London John was Head of Sustainability at Davis Langdon LLP where was responsible for developing and delivering its range of sustainability services and forming strong relationships across its key client base.

    Before joining Davis Langdon John worked in the client domain as a sustainability advisor on range of major projects and organisations, most notably at BAA plc, where he lead the sustainability agenda within the Terminal 5 design phase and the wider £10bn Capital Projects function.

    Niko Kavakiotis, Siemens UK

    Head of Building Performance & Sustainability GB&I, Siemens Building Technologies
    Niko is the head of the Building Performance & Sustainability (BPS), the energy business of Siemens Building Technologies in the UK, whose mission is to make the UK more sustainable by turning buildings into the best versions of themselves.
    Niko’s current role with Siemens involves around setting the BPS UK growth strategy and delivering Siemens’ holistic energy management solution when it comes to the energy trilemma many companies are now facing (energy costs, security of supply, sustainability), helping them at the same time enhance the value of their assets. This means responsibility for delivering a wide range of services, such as setting a long term energy & sustainability strategy, building optimization, energy efficiency projects, technology upgrades, on-site generation, dynamic energy purchasing and financing.
    Niko has been involved in the energy industry for over 15 years with a wide ranging experience.  Before joining Siemens in 2011, Niko held various senior positions at the international consultancy (Pace Global), focusing on energy trading and asset valuations in both Europe and Asia. His work covered major private corporations, multi lateral institutions and governmental agencies. 
    He is has an Electrical & Electronics Engineering Degree from the Democritus University of Thrace (Greece), and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame (USA). Niko is a Fulbright scholar.

    Ragnar Martens GRESB

    Ragnar manages GRESB's software development together with Ulrich Scharf, works on the design and user interface aspects of the GRESB portal and creates all of GRESB's data visualizations. He holds a Bachelor’s in International Business from Maastricht University and a Master’s degree from Copenhagen Business School. Before joining GRESB he co-founded sustainability consultancy rootAbility and worked with Berlin based consultancy Sustainable Strategies.

    Tobias Huber, Siemens

    Tobias Huber is the Global Head for Energy Services & Projects at Siemens Building Technologies, headquartered in Zug, Switzerland.
    From consulting to services and project implementation:
    With regional hubs in the US, Europe, Germany and Middle East Asia, the performance of 60.000 buildings is managed across the globe.
    From vision to demolition:
    Before taking over this responsibility, he developed a global solution portfolio for Siemens to enable energy efficiency and sustainability during the entire lifecycle of buildings.
    Prior to this role he was holding various operative and strategic positions at OSRAM which brought him from Germany to China and onwards to Indonesia in General Management positions.
    Beside working for multinational companies, Tobias was Chairman for the European ESCO association.
    To share his knowledge and experiences with the next generation, he has been guest lecturer at European universities in the recent years.
    Tobias Huber was born 1973 in Munich, studied Business Administration, Communication and later on Computer Science.

    Keith Gunaratne, EP&T

    Keith Gunaratne, Founder, Managing Director and Product Architect of EP&T Global.
    Keith Gunaratne founded EP&T in 1993 with a passion to bring operational efficiency in buildings.
    EP&T pioneered the concept of using big data, data purification and nano-targeting technology (data analytics) to deliver utility savings through operational efficiency across large diversified property portfolios. EP&T now collects billions of sets of new data each year from buildings across Australia, Asia, Middle East and Europe. Keith encompassed IoT, machine-learning and peopleware to deliver optimum benefits.
    Keith has formal education in Electrical Engineering, Air quality systems, information technology and Business Management. He is also active in market transformational work for the property sector to benefit from digitalisation and using big data to drive operational efficiency and sustainability.

    Claire Penny, IBM

    Claire is the Global Industry Leader for Watson IoT for Buildings, responsible for delivering solutions and innovation to worldwide building users and operators. In this role she gets to combine all her passion, experience and learning from the past 16 years and focus it into BIM (Building Information Modelling) and IOT (Internet of Things) in the operational phase of a building. This combination means that she can add value to customers, whilst working and collaborating with brilliant teams (internal and external), to develop and deliver cognitive building solutions.

    She regularly shares her knowledge and passion through public speaking and social media activities. Delivering presentations on topics such as Cognitive Buildings, IoT, BIM, IWMS, Energy Optimisation and Environmental Affairs.

    Claire’s PhD was attained from Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK. Her M.Sc, attained from University of London, Wye College, Kent and B.Sc (hons) from Liverpool Polytechnic.

    Not one to sit still even after hours, Claire’s external commitments include:

    • Chair of the CitA BICP (BIM Innovation Capaility Programme) Client BIM Task Group, Ireland (Jan 2016 – present)
    • Non-executive Director of WEEE (Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment) Ireland, (2005 – present)

    She is also a wife, mother of 3 and dog owner of 1.

    Benjamin Kott, EnergyDeck

    Benjamin Kott is the founder and CEO of EnergyDeck, an innovative web-based platform that helps organisations save energy, resources and costs. The driving idea behind EnergyDeck is to leverage the collective intelligence of users in combination with advanced, data-science based analytics, in order to deliver wide-ranging and tailored insights around building performance optimisation opportunities.

    Previously, Benjamin was Google's Green Business Operations Manager and Clean Energy Advocacy Manager for Europe. In these roles, he was responsible for a broad range of initiatives ranging from building performance improvement programmes to major external campaigns like Google's Copenhagen Project (COP15), as well as Google's first investment in renewable energy generation outside of the U.S. In addition, he served as Google’s European spokesperson on all matters related to the environment, energy and sustainability.

    Before Google, Benjamin worked as a management consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton in Italy and Europe on a wide range of projects in the high-tech, media, industrial and energy sectors.

    Benjamin holds a Master's degree in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering from Munich Technical University and an MBA from Insead in France. He is a member of the Sustainability Advisory Panel of the BBC, the Sustainability Council of the Urban Land Institute, and regularly participates in the benchmarking committees of the UK’s Better Buildings Partnership and GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark).

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017