Over the last several years, there has been a dramatic resurgence in appreciation for the role of buildings and communities in promoting health and well-being. This has been propelled by a confluence of factors, including:
- Increased emphasis on space quality among high value tenants
- Renewed attention to built environment-related public health challenges such as obesity and asthma
- New research linking environmental conditions to cognitive performance and productivity
- Advances in technology, such as personal tracking and environmental sensors
- And many more…
The GRESB team has been watching these issues evolve and, last year, it became clear that leading property companies and funds were taking action to promote health and well-being in ways that were not captured by the GRESB Real Estate Assessment.
We discussed this trend with the GRESB Benchmark Committees, and they shared our assessment of the importance of the issue. However, at the time, Benchmark Committee members believed that the industry did not yet have a set of criteria or metrics to evaluate the management or performance of companies with respect to health and well-being. They recommended against incorporating these issues into the 2016 Real Estate Assessment.
In dialog with the Benchmark Committees, we created a new (to GRESB) approach: a Health & Well-being (H&W) Module. This voluntary supplement to the core GRESB Real Estate Assessment allowed us to test new questions and better understand the state of the market on this emerging issue. The new H&W Module addressed five core domains:
- Needs assessment
- Health promotion strategies
- Performance monitoring
The questions addressing these core topics were asked in two ways. First, the Module evaluated how companies are promoting health and well-being in their own internal operations. Second, the Module asked how companies are promoting health through their real estate and services (e.g., property management). Consistent with the core GRESB Assessment, the intent was to understand how companies are integrating the promotion of health and well-being into their business and looking for evidence of systemic management and performance monitoring processes. As always, the focus of the assessment was on the portfolio-scale – not individual buildings or projects.
Our long-term goal is to provide new indicators to help investors understand how companies and funds are promoting health and well-being – something that is currently invisible for property investors.
The H&W Module was released in April as part of the 2016 GRESB Real Estate Assessment. We were thrilled that 174 leading companies and funds voluntarily elected to participate.
We were even more excited to see strong and interesting patterns in the new data. For example, we discovered that all participating companies and funds were beginning to manage health and well-being internally. However, only a relatively small sub-set of companies and funds are taking action to promote health and well-being both internally and externally through their real estate and services. We identified 62 leaders taking action in both domains. Interestingly, no companies and funds report taking external action without taking action internally. In other words, promoting health and well-being in internal operations seems to be a necessary precursor to creating value propositions to tenants.
This coming week, we will put these individual responses into context with a new global snapshot of health and well-being results and data. Join us at Greenbuild to learn more:
- GRESB Investor Track during International Summit
- GRESB VIP Reception hosted by GRESB Premier Partner Measurabl: 6-6:30 PM BottleRock LA, 1050 South Flower Street, #167
- GRESB Update, Session C14: Global trends in sustainable real estate and infrastructure
- Health and Well-being Track, Session EO3: Tools and incentives for health-focused design
And visit GRESB.com on Wednesday, October 5 to download the new snapshot of the health and well-being results.