New Sustainability Guidelines for Transparency in Construction and Real Estate

FIRMS operating in the built environment will be able to measure their green performance evermore effectively after the launch of new international guidelines on sustainability reporting.

Carbon emissions, management and remediation of contaminated land, and sub-contracted labour issues are some of the sustainability issues that can now be reported by construction and real estate companies, thanks to new guidance published by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) 

During its lifecycle – from design, through construction, occupation and operation and all the way to demolition – a building has many different impacts on the environment and society, from materials used during construction to energy consumption during occupation.

The built environment is responsible for more than 40 percent of global energy use and one third of global greenhouse gas emissions – and up to 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in our cities and towns. In order to improve the sustainability of the built environment, impacts at all stages of the lifecycle need to be considered.

Measuring, monitoring and reporting the sustainability of construction activities and buildings has suffered from a lack of consistency until now. GRI, which produces a comprehensive sustainability reporting framework that is widely used around the world, released its Guidelines tailored for the construction and real estate sector. The tailored guidance aims to make reporting more relevant for the sector.

GRI’s Construction and Real Estate Sector Supplement (CRESS) provides guidance for anyone who invests in, develops, constructs, or manages buildings on the principles and indicators to follow and to report business strategy and performance. Specific issues covered in the new Supplement include building and materials certification, CO2 emissions, management and remediation of contaminated land and labour health and safety issues.

Maaike Fleur, Senior Manager Reporting Framework at the Global Reporting Initiative, said: “Today’s new guidance will help construction and real estate companies be more transparent about the impacts their activities and assets have on the environment, economy and society. The built environment forms the structure in which communities function and is part of the landscape, so making sure companies in the construction and real estate sector have the tools to communicate their impacts is vital if we are to move to a sustainable economy.”

The Supplement has been developed according to a multi-stakeholder process – volunteers from construction and real estate companies, labor, non-governmental organizations and academia were brought together in a Working Group to develop the Supplement. The public then commented on the draft in two Public Comment Periods. The Working Group took the consultation feedback into account and made further changes, and the final version is published today.

Picture of Women in Construction from the University of Salford reproduced under CCL.

Monday 26th September 2011

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