The saying goes, ‘If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it does it make a noise’?
Should those of us who work in real estate say, ‘If a Green Star building is unoccupied does anyone benefit’?
My point being is, if we strive to achieve GRESB Green Star accreditation and do not make serious efforts to improve the health and well-being of the occupants why bother? Why go to all that effort and only reach half of the building’s potential? Organizations will complement their GRESB accreditation with an internal ESG policy. A natural step, which looks to align their people with their Organization. Time will have been spent to craft their policy to ensure the words used to detail their ambition and aspirations while simultaneously demonstrating their authenticity. Working on health and well-being initiatives will evidence this perfectly.
Companies with strong and robust health initiatives generate evidence which allows them to increase their GRESB score. Having a robust philosophy that is influenced by GRESB, becomes a way of generating new initiatives which in turn furthers the ambition of the organization. Strong health initiatives also prevent the art of ‘fishing’. This is when organizations trawl for extra points by asking consultants to help create a system of smoke and mirrors to generate initiatives that on paper look good but in reality, may not deliver. Doing this devalues the point and authenticity of the whole organization.
The health and well-being initiatives benchmarked by GRESB potentially can be created through partnerships with health professionals, community and charitable organizations. Each program is designed to be reflective of the communities that surround the buildings our clients are responsible for. This allows them to ensure that they can create a recognizable impact. The value in being able to create initiatives which are reflective of the community’s needs is vital to the success of all health and well-being initiatives.
The creation of strong partnerships allows health and well-being initiatives to be replicable across the whole of an organization’s portfolio. It should be viewed as a real positive that a whole portfolio approach can be adopted. We passionately believe that GRESB should be applied across all investments rather than a selected few. It would seem counterproductive to have only part of your fund delivering a sustainable difference.
The commercial advantage of creating a culture that places the GRESB ambitions at the heart of the organization cannot be underestimated. We know investors are interrogating an organization’s ESG policy before making investment decisions. Having a GRESB Green Star immediately demonstrates an organization’s corporate values. What it is being understood more and more is its ability to attract and retain staff. Social Value is becoming a currency of engagement. Allowing people to align their own beliefs with that of their employer, share their compassion, allowing kindness to define their actions is a powerful message that attracts people to you.
This article was written by Paul Burns, Social Sustainability Consultant at Delta-Simons Environmental Consultants – a member of Inogen Environmental Alliance
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