Climate Action

Chris Pyke on how GRESB supports the investment industry to create a sustainable world

Ahead of COP28, Climate Action caught up with Chris Pyke, GRESB Chief Innovation Officer to discuss the role GRESB plays in supporting the investment industry to create a sustainable world.

  • 26 October 2023
  • Rachel Cooper

Ahead of COP28, Climate Action caught up with Chris Pyke, GRESB Chief Innovation Officer to discuss the role GRESB plays in supporting the investment industry to create a sustainable world.

Can you tell us more about GRESB and its mission-driven and industry-led membership organization which helps to support the investment industry to play a central role in creating a sustainable world?

GRESB drives positive change in real assets by supporting constructive engagement between institutional investors and real asset managers. GRESB provides transparency about environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance and compares this information to absolute and relative benchmarks: Institutional investors receive information needed to develop and apply ESG-informed investment strategies, while asset managers leverage the data to identify strengths and weaknesses relative to their peers. The result is a cycle of iterative engagement and continuous improvement.

GRESB emphasizes collaboration with industry working groups to stay aligned with industry needs. Could you provide an example of how insights from these working groups have influenced the development of GRESB standards or assessments?

The GRESB Standards for Real Estate and Infrastructure are governed by the GRESB Foundation – an independent, non-profit organization. The Foundation advances GRESB’s mission through a hierarchy of advisory groups, including the Foundation Board (the Board), Real Estate Standards Committee (RESC), Infrastructure Standards Committee (ISC), and Technical Working Groups (Working Groups). In 2023, these groups worked together to study opportunities to recognize “net zero” performance in the Standards. The RESC and ISC established a Technical Work Group to focus on this complex and dynamic issue. Technical Working Group members were competitively selected from a global pool of more than 200 applicants. The group convened several times and produced technical findings for real estate and infrastructure. These findings provided the basis for a set of principles adopted by the Standards Committees to guide standard development going forward. These will ultimately be reflected in changes in GRESB indicators, response options, and scoring.

How does GRESB's commitment to increasing transparency in sustainability reporting, including TCFD and SFRD reporting, support the real assets industry in reaching global sustainability goals?

GRESB facilitates communications between institutional investors and managers. GRESB places a priority on ensuring that investors have relevant, actionable information to inform their ESG strategies and support engagement. This aspiration is reflected in GRESB’s Benchmark Reports – comprehensive, comparative analyses available for every GRESB participant and their investors. These reports clearly indicate the relative strengths and weaknesses of each entity, highlighting topics for discussion and improvement. Over time, GRESB has supplemented Benchmark Reports with additional resources to meet specific reporting requirements, notably TCFD and SFRD. These reports help participants meet new investor and regulatory requirements.

Why are events such as Climate Week NYC and the Sustainable Innovation Forum important in driving the net zero transition?

The scope, scale, and speed of the clean energy transition is unprecedented. By analog, we are literally changing the engines of the global economy, while we continue to “fly the plane”. This effort necessarily engages a broad cross-section of civil society and industry actors, each playing a part in defining objectives, enabling action, and ensuring accountability. The scope of these interconnections makes events like COP28 and the Sustianable Innovation Forum timely and relevant. These events provide unique opportunities to bring together stakeholders and share experiences and solutions. The events combine structured content with opportunistic interactions in a way that cannot be replicated online. Consequently, they play a key role in accelerating climate action.