6 Emission reporting frameworks & certifications companies should know about
Tracking ESG data has become vital for the public and investor perception of companies in recent years. As a result, transparency about carbon emissions and setting reduction goals is imperative at the corporate and individual property level for organizations who hope to remain competitive and compliant with emerging government mandates.
In this post, we continue our series demystifying sustainability and the reporting process by highlighting six popular emissions reporting frameworks and certifications. Following common frameworks helps guide companies to meet government mandates and create actionable sustainability strategies.
GRESB, formerly Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark, is an organization that assesses and benchmarks sustainability performance for companies in the commercial real estate space. More than 1,500 companies utilize GRESB to rate their buildings.
Who reports to GRESB?
GRESB assessments and benchmarks are utilized by both real estate and infrastructure entities. Examples include:
- Real estate funds
- Property companies
- Real estate developers
- Infrastructure fund managers
- Asset operators
- Companies can choose a benchmarking framework for assessment or public disclosure. Current options include:
- Real Estate Assessment
- Real Estate Public Disclosure
- Infrastructure Fund Assessment
- Infrastructure Asset Assessment
- Infrastructure Public Disclosure
How GRESB scores
The reporting process involves answering a comprehensive questionnaire on environmental performance, governance, and social performance. Submitted data is analyzed to produce benchmarking reports and rankings that help investors evaluate the sustainability of current or potential real estate and infrastructure investments.
GRESB scores companies using a points system. Each question is worth a certain number of points. The total number of points per category depends on what type of real estate or infrastructure asset is being scored. The final rating is calculated relative to the performance of everyone who reports, regardless of property type and location.
When is the reporting period for GRESB?
GRESB’s reporting period opens on April 1, 2023 and closes on July 1, 2023 at 23:59 PDT.
The submission and evaluation timeline typically looks like this:
For more information visit GRESB’s website.
CDP was founded back in 2000. It was the first platform to leverage investor pressure to influence corporate disclosure. CDP helps companies support their own economy while considering the planet. It also catalogs research to further climate preservation efforts across the country.
Who reports to CDP?
Companies, cities, states, and even investors use CDP to report their environmental impact and manage climate-related risks and opportunities.
Typically, either a company will report to CDP of their own accord, or they will be asked to do so by an investor or city.
How CDP scores
Companies complete a questionnaire centered around climate change, forests, or water security. CDP uses that questionnaire to build a sustainability score and provide recommendations on how the company can improve. The scores use letter grades (A through D-). A unique score is provided for the three focus areas: climate change, forests, and water.
They then use reported data to develop research, help investors evaluate certain stocks and act as the basis for many environmental policies.
The scores assess environmental stewardship in the following categories:
Scoring can be sector-specific for high-impact industries. Additionally, some companies are scored on all three focus areas, while others are only scored on one or two.
When is the reporting period for CDP?
The online reporting system opens on April 17, 2023. Questionnaires must be submitted by July 26, 2023. Submitting early is encouraged. The online reporting system closes on September 27, 2023. Companies that miss the reporting deadline won’t get a score, but they can still include their data in the year’s collection of self-reported datasets.
For more information visit CDP’s website.
SASB, or the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, is non-profit organization designed to help companies around the globe identify, measure, and manage whatever subset of ESG topics most directly impact long-term enterprise value creation.
Who reports to SASB?
SASB standards are available for companies in 77 different industries. Reporting is voluntary but provides industry-specific standards for companies providing sustainability data to investors. SASB is designed to help companies identify and report on the environmental issues most relevant to financial performance and enterprise value.
SASB covers climate change-related subjects like greenhouse gas emissions, water management, labor practices, supply chain management, product safety, and data privacy.
SASB standards are recognized by global investors as essential requirements for companies that wish to make consistent and comparable sustainability disclosures. The standards inform the IFRS Foundation’s Climate-related Disclosures Exposure Draft and General Requirements for Sustainability-related Disclosures Exposure Draft.
Starting to report now through SASB standards allows companies to meet the immediate needs of investors while laying the groundwork for the adoption of IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards in the years to come.
How SASB scores
SASB provides a set of industry-specific sustainability standards through which companies can share material sustainability information with investors.
SASB’s standard-setting process includes:
- Evidence-based research
- Broad, balanced participation from companies, investors and SMEs
- Oversight and approval from the independent SASB board
When is the reporting period for SASB?
While SASB doesn’t have a set reporting period, reporting on an annual basis and keeping investors up-to-date is advisable.
For more information visit SASB’s website.
CRREM is a commercial real-estate-specific emissions reporting framework. It aims to accelerate the decarbonization and climate change resilience of the EU commercial real estate sector by communicating the downside financial risks that accompany poor energy performance and quantifying the financial cost of climate change on the building stock.
Who reports to CRREM?
CRREM provides companies with science-based carbon reduction pathways for the building, portfolio and company level, as well as financial risk assessment tools that help manage the cost of carbon mitigation strategies.
CRREM can also be helpful for companies renting commercial real estate spaces. The tool is designed to assess risk and provide strategies for reducing emissions. Instead of setting a reduction goal, CRREM assesses the science-based approach for assessing carbon risk in real estate, accounting for the building’s location, type, age and energy efficiency and the local energy grid’s carbon intensity. CRREM then calculates a range of potential carbon reduction targets companies can use to align portfolios with the Paris Agreement’s goals.
How CRREM scores
CRREM provides a methodology for real estate companies to assess and manage their carbon risk exposure. The framework’s ultimate goal is to accelerate the decarbonization and climate change resilience of the EU commercial real estate sector.
CRREM scores companies by quantifying the downside financial risks that could result from poor energy performance, as well as the financial implications of climate change on the building stock. CRREM then uses this data to create science-based carbon reduction pathways for buildings, portfolios and companies. It provides companies with risk assessment tools to manage carbon mitigation in a cost-effective way.
For more information visit CRREM’S website.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green building certification program created by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). The framework aims to create greener buildings while saving companies money, improving efficiency, and creating healthier places for people.
The USGBC considers LEED-certified buildings critical to addressing climate change and ESG goals, enhancing resilience, and supporting equitable communities.
Who reports to LEED?
Buildings and projects in a variety of industries can seek LEED certification, including single-family residences, higher education institutions, and warehouse and distribution centers.
How LEED scores
LEED provides a framework for buildings and projects to achieve sustainability certification based on a points system. There are four levels of certification:
To become certified, you must first choose your target LEED certification level. Rating systems are available in the following categories:
- Building Design and Construction
- Operations and Maintenance
- Interior Design and Construction
- Building Design and Construction for Homes/Multifamily Midrise
- Neighborhood Development
After choosing a category, businesses can select the most relevant rating system. For example, LEED O+M: Warehouses and Distribution Centers is a rating system designed to address energy use, occupancy levels, and resource usage for facilities that store goods and manufacture products.
When is the reporting period for LEED?
While businesses can submit to LEED at any time, they must adhere to the following deadlines to achieve certification by the end of 2023:
- Standard applications: Must be paid and submitted for preliminary review by Wednesday, Sept. 6th, and final review by Wednesday, Nov. 15th.
- Expedited applications: Must be paid and submitted for preliminary review by Tuesday, Oct. 31, and final review by Wednesday, Dec. 6.
Final reviews will be returned on December 22, 2023.
Projects that need certification before Greenbuild (September 26-29) should submit according to these deadlines instead:
- Standard applications: Must be paid and submitted for preliminary review by Tuesday, June 6, and final review by Wednesday, Thursday, August 17.
- Expedited applications: Must be paid and submitted for preliminary review by Wednesday, August 2, and final review by Wednesday, September 6.
Final reviews will be returned on September 22, 2023.
These deadlines are approximate and don’t account for potential appeals. Businesses should submit as early as possible to secure certification on time.
For more information visit the USGBC’s website.
Run by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ENERGY STAR provides energy efficiency ratings for products and buildings in a variety of industries. It aims to protect the environment while saving money for consumers and businesses alike through the adoption of energy-efficient products and practices.
Who reports to ENERGY STAR?
Residential homes, commercial buildings and industrial plants can benchmark their energy performance using ENERGY STAR tools and certifications.
How ENERGY STAR scores
To achieve certification, building owners and managers must use the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. ENERGY STAR assigns a percentile score between 1 and 100 based on average energy usage for similar buildings/products.
Buildings and products are ENERGY STAR certified if they score at least 75 and submit the building’s energy performance data to the EPA for verification.
Similar buildings are identified based on:
- Type: Energy usage patterns
- Size: Square footage
- Climate: Location-dependent usage patterns
- Occupancy: Number of occupants in the building
- Energy consumption: Actual energy consumption
When is the reporting period for ENERGY STAR?
ENERGY STAR scores are based on 12 consecutive months of energy and production data. The reporting period has no rigid deadline but should align with the data period used for producing Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) as much as possible.
For more information visit ENERGY STAR’s website.
Getting started with frameworks and certifications
If you are just starting your carbon emissions reporting journey, you have a lot to consider. Recommended carbon targets are shifting as new research emerges, and reducing carbon emissions by half (or more) in the next few decades is no small feat.
The first step toward reporting and reducing carbon emissions within your organization is gaining visibility into your building and energy data.
Brightly’s experts can set you on the right path to collecting, understanding and reporting your emissions data so that you can do your part (appealing to investors and lowering energy costs in the process).