What makes a sustainability leader? Meet CBRE Global Investors

With less than two weeks until the 2021 Sustainability Leaders Awards, this feature series showcases the achievements of the 2020 winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: The winners of the Investor of the Year Award, CBRE Global Investors.

What makes a sustainability leader? Meet CBRE Global Investors

Pictured: Compere Julia Bradbury (right) and the Green Finance Institute's Emma Harvey (left) present the award

CBRE Global Investors (CBRE GI) is one of the world’s largest real estate investment management firms and, as such, realises that examining and improving the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) of its assets and portfolios was key to future-proofing the long-term performance of the company – and, indeed, a large proportion of the built environment sector.

With £66.2bn in assets under management globally and £12bn in the UK across 45 portfolios, CBRE GI set about developing an ESG Programme that would drive progress towards shared commitments across all funds, while offering flexibility for individual portfolios. The ESG programme sets out a three-year plan to drive progress on key issues identified through an extensive materiality review and has been developed in extensive consultation with investors, fund managers and asset managers across the UK investment portfolio.

Analyses of existing ESG commitments and policies were carried out on each institutional investor, covering metrics including carbon emissions, pollution, energy, water, transport, waste, materials, biodiversity and building certification. Social aspects such as community, charity & volunteering, health & safety, wellbeing and stakeholder engagement, and governance issues including board structure, human rights, compliance, procurement, transparency, employee rights and consumer rights were also examined.

CBRE GI also reviewed its own commitments, policies and strategies and those of the wider CBRE Group. These were cross-referenced against external standards and frameworks including the UN Global Compact, UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), PRI, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), and building certifications such as BREEAM, LEED, Ska and WELL. In fact, CBRE GI is seeking to locate its offices in green-certified buildings, focusing on greater energy efficiency and a reduced carbon footprint.

Workshops were then introduced, alongside investor surveys, looking at material issues and the level of ambition of each fund. A materiality survey was sent to all institutional investors, exploring which issues were most significant to them. The development of an ESG materiality matrix aligned with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) recommendations was then processed, based on the findings of the analysis and workshop, which uncovered three key ESG issues common across all portfolios: carbon, transparency and compliance. The ESG strategy was developed around these key pillars.

The organisation is using sustainability data software to record, benchmark and report all the KPI-related data and has instructed Carbon Delta to develop a tool to be able to evaluate climate change risks and opportunities for portfolios and investments in accordance with the TCFD recommendations.

Since the development of the ESG Programme, CBRE GI has taken steps to strengthen it and the organisation’s internal capacity to focus on ESG. In 2019, for example, CBRE GI added a Global Head of ESG and engaged specialist ESG consultants to assist various regions and business lines with ESG – related activities. A Global Responsible Investment Committee (RIMCo) and regional and business line RIMCos were also established to help with the activities.

More broadly, CBRE GI has adopted internal sustainable measures to help “walk the talk” on ESG. Paperless offices, promoting reusable cups, developing a science-based target for carbon emissions and participating in a United Nations Environmental Program Financial Initiative (UNEP FI) and Carbon Delta pilot to evaluate climate-related risks and opportunities for portfolios and investments in alignment with TCFD recommendations, are all examples of this.

What edie’s judges said: “The company implemented Group-wide adoption of science-based targets, mainstreamed ESG across the full investment portfolio and adopted the recommendations of the TCFD. Its collaborative and well-structured process to develop the ESG framework engaged all stakeholders from the outset, and has a strong focus on improving the Group’s own carbon footprint.” 

Are you our next winner?

Now entering their 14th year for 2021, the RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards are a unique opportunity to shout about the achievements you and your company have made during this challenging year. 

Entries have now closed for the award scheme and our shortlist of finalists has been released. In a digital event on Wednesday 3 February 2021, entrants will get the chance to celebrate virtually with leaders from across the sustainability, CSR and energy space. Some exciting new categories have been added for 2021 to recognise excellence across the spectrum of sustainable business. 


edie Staff

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