GRESB Infrastructure: Creating a Common Language for Sustainable Infrastructure

founders. We know that infrastructure needs capital, and that it is a global need. Until 2030, we will need $89 trillion for infrastructure investments and an additional $8 trillion to transition to a low carbon economy." data-share-imageurl="">
Friday, October 16, 2015

Excerpts from remarks given at the New York City Launch of GRESB Infrastructure, APG Asset Management, New York, NY on September 24, 2015

I appreciate the chance to offer a few thoughts to mark the launch of GRESB Infrastructure – the latest addition to the GRESB family of assessments and a testament to the vision and leadership of its founders.

We know that infrastructure needs capital, and that it is a global need. Until 2030, we will need $89 trillion for infrastructure investments and an additional $8 trillion to transition to a low carbon economy.

First I think it’s clear that the market needs a common language when it comes to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) measurements in the infrastructure arena.

In order for us to move quickly and raise sufficient capital, we need to provide a consistent framework for the market to obtain information to make these important investment decisions.

The Green Business Certification Institute (GBCI) is responsible for delivering LEED green building certification globally and will soon provide independent certification for the annual GRESB survey.

LEED has been a global success as it serves as a common language for what defines a green building. In the past 15 years, a global market has emerged around LEED.

According to a recent report by the U.S. Green Building Council and Booz Allen Hamilton, LEED certified buildings will directly contribute $29.8 billion to U.S. GDP by 2018 and 386,000 jobs.

The study further predicts that green construction’s growth rate will continue to rise—green building is slated to contribute 2.3 million jobs in 2015, growing to 3.3 million by 2018. In addition, the industry’s direct contribution to the GDP is expected to reach $303.5 billion from 2015-2018.

Our experience with both LEED and GRESB uniquely positions us to define the common language.

Second we have always taken a holistic view. It’s becoming clear that investment in buildings and infrastructure needs to be integrated. We can no longer deal with them in silos.

As a nascent area of consideration, we have a unique opportunity to shape a global sustainability standard for infrastructure that’s married to, not separate from, the largest asset class in the world.

When you carry community or even city level perspective, you gain a significant advantage due to the synergies and opportunities that are possible, allowing for seamless integration into the investment cycle – design, site procurement, development, operations & maintenance.

The output of the GRESB Infrastructure tool allows for integration in investment process based on real use versus speculation.

And third, we know from our green building rating systems that lack of collaboration leads to market fragmentation. We need one global standard that is adapted to regional and local needs.

GBCI and GRESB already have mechanisms in place to organize that collaboration.  We’re not shy about identifying what needs to be done, and we will act boldly to execute our long term vision. Our experience has taught us to not make short-term, expedient solutions.  Our global network of partners can help compress the implementation period.

Today is the first step, and we invite industry associations and global investors and infrastructure operators to work with us to implement this global benchmarking standard to reduce risks and capitalize on opportunities related to ESG initiatives.

ESG considerations are becoming must-have value drivers. By taking this first step, we are launching the global movement to embed ESG considerations into capital markets.