Global alliance set to bridge ESG gaps between finance, real estate sectors

5th April 2024

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Online Writer


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Global green building certification bodies the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in the UK, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) have formed a global green building alliance to create global cohesion in green building standards.

This is aimed at bridging the gap between green building and the environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting requirements of the finance sector, thereby unlocking sustainable finance at a global scale.

Considering the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) works in partnership with the GBCA, the alliance will have a positive impact on sustainable finance and the built environment in South Africa too, says the GBCSA.

Green building verification and certification schemes play a critical role in supporting ESG reporting, it states.

Together, the alliance’s three rating systems – namely Green Star, Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – help project developers and building owners achieve net-zero, ESG and Sustainable Development Goal targets.

By aligning these systems, investors and stakeholders can have confidence that green buildings seamlessly fit into their ESG reporting processes, reducing climate risks, and driving impactful change, the GBCSA says.

“The GBCA was established in 2002 with the support of the BRE and the USGBC, so there has always been a long-term global partnership. Finance is a global language and it’s important that we join the dots to direct more finance to this critically important area,” explains GBCA CEO Davina Rooney.

“This development does what all of us have wanted to do – advocate for green buildings in a collaborative and aligned manner. It is an exciting proposition that we hope leads to multiple other alignment opportunities,” adds GBCA chief impact officer Jorge Chapa.

The alliance is formed against the backdrop of the global climate crisis.

One of the key aims of the alliance is to establish an internationally assured definition of a green building, addressing the challenge of inconsistent green building definitions and the risk of ‘greenwashing.’

Currently, the three existing globally recognised tools share common frameworks and objectives but, for those that are not green building experts, their alignment and commonality is not clear, says the GBCSA.

“The three organisations of the alliance have already put in all the groundwork to create robust, reliable green building certification tools, so it makes sense that we work together and take the lead in guiding the industry. It’s about collaboration, not competition.

“This alliance will [have] a positive impact on sustainable finance globally, and at scale. In any country, if a building is rated with one of these tools, investors and stakeholders can have confidence in what this means for their ESG, and also know that risk is lowered,” says GBCSA CEO Lisa Reynolds.

“With the GBCSA set to launch the new Green Star Transforming Tomorrow Version 2 Tool this year, we want the property and finance sectors to know that we have listened to the market.

“Our V2 tool will connect more easily into ESG reporting, meaning that it will directly support reporting needs as opposed to adding more work. This tool is credible, relevant, and more streamlined than its predecessor,” adds GBCSA technical head Georgina Smit.

The first milestone for the global green alliance will be educating the industry with the creation of a practical guide to explore the sustainable finance instruments currently available to the real estate market, such as green loans and green bonds.

The new guide will build on an initial document developed by GBCA and launched to the Australian market in 2023.

The upcoming version is set to drive awareness of sustainable finance mechanisms in the real estate sector and demonstrate how rating systems such as BREEAM, Green Star and LEED ensure compliance with ESG frameworks. It will be published at London Climate Action Week in June.

“We are so proud to be part of this new groundbreaking alliance, and we’re excited to see how our Green Star certifications can contribute to transforming the South African built environment into a sustainable and thriving place for generations to come.

“I like to think of this alliance as a magic flywheel. We have three forces coming together creating momentum and the positive impact is multiplied many times over,” expresses Reynolds.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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