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2023 GRESB results see 36% increase in Canadian funds

80 Canadian funds among 555 Americas participants in annual global ESG rankings

Courtesy GRESB

The 2023 GRESB survey saw a 36 per cent boost in participation from Canadian funds, adding 21 new participants to a list with sustained recognition from Canadian regional sector leaders.

Canadian funds totalled 80 of the 555 participants in the Americas.

The GRESB survey, called the GRESB Real Estate Assessment, is a framework to measure the ESG performance of individual assets and portfolios based on self-reported data. It covers sustainability elements including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water, waste, building certification and risk assessment.

It is organized by the GRESB Foundation, a non-profit based in the Netherlands.

“Benchmark growth across real estate and infrastructure this year is not just about numbers — it’s about the depth, breadth and usefulness of the data. This increasing dedication and awareness of data quality demonstrates the commitment of global real assets to transparency and sustainability on a broader scale,” Sebastien Roussotte, GRESB CEO, said in a statement.

Overall participation in the GRESB Real Estate Benchmark jumped by 15 per cent, growing to cover 2,084 listed and non-listed portfolios representing approximately $9.8 trillion of gross asset value across 75 countries and regions.

2023 GRESB results

The survey is organized by real estate investment categories including residential, office, industrial, retail and diversified mixes.

A GRESB score is generated by assessing management, performance and development. It also generates a benchmark for real estate (management and performance factors) and development (management and development factors).

Top performers in their region and globally are granted the title of sector leaders. Participants in the top 20 per cent are awarded a five-star ranking.

The average GHG intensity of Canadian participants in 2022 was 42.74 kilograms per square metre. This was lower than the average from China, the U.S., Singapore, Japan and Australia, but higher than Germany, Italy, France, Norway and Sweden.

The U.S. saw the highest number of new participants with 53 entities in 2023 (from 380 to 433). Oceania stood out as the fastest-growing region, recording a 23 per cent year-over-year increase in participation.

Globally, Europe led the pack with the highest number of new participants, rising from 907 to 1,013.

For this edition of GRESB, net-zero progress is being monitored for the first time.

In 2023, 72 per cent of global real estate participants have a net-zero policy in place. However, only 56 per cent of global participants have made a public net-zero commitment and 50 per cent have established a net-zero target.

Average GRESB scores increased by a point to 75 for the standing investment benchmark, and by two points to 83 in the development benchmark.

Canadian sector leaders

Development benchmark

Regional sector leaders: non-listed

There were no Canadian listed regional sector leaders. However, the CPP Oxford Fund was included as an overall global sector leader, while it and CREIF were included as non-listed global sector leaders.

Standing investment benchmark

Regional sector leaders: non-listed

There were no Canadian companies in the listed section for the standing investment benchmark. Cadillac Fairview’s listing was its third consecutive appearance in first place in the diversified – office/retail – non-listed for North America.

"As the owner and operator of some of Canada's largest office complexes and shopping centres, we are dedicated to mitigating our impact on climate change and enabling a sustainable future," John Sullivan, Cadillac Fairview's president and CEO, said in a statement.

“Our continued top ranking celebrates the leadership, commitment and drive of our entire team who strive to integrate ESG principles into all aspects of our company culture."

Other Canadian highlights

Toronto-based Crown Realty Partners’ Core Fund of office properties achieved a five-star rating for the fifth consecutive year. With a score of 90, the fund was first in its peer group of non-listed Canadian office funds and second in a broader peer group in the Americas.

As well, Toronto-based Starlight Investments ranked first in the Canada residential: multifamily non-listed peer group. The company manages over 77,000 multiresidential suites and nine million square feet of commercial space.

"This recognition is not just an accolade but a reflection of our dedication to creating complete communities that are both sustainable and beneficial for our residents,” Marlee Kohn, vice-president of ESG at Starlight, said in a statement.

“As we continue to set new benchmarks in ESG practices, our focus remains on driving positive change and fostering a culture of responsibility and innovation."

Toronto-based Fiera Capital Corporation’s Canadian Investment Strategy II achieved a score of 83 out of 100 in its first year of submission. Fiera’s Canadian investment vehicles achieved an overall score of 86, an average increase of 13 per cent.

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