Investa Property Group ("Investa") has introduced continuous reporting on the environmental performance of all buildings in their office portfolio, providing a new level of transparency and timely information for tenants, investors and industry.

A first in the Australian property industry, continuous reporting in the form of online building scorecards, means tenants and investors can review and compare the performance of the portfolio and of individual buildings on a range of measures, nine months earlier than is typically available. Sustainability reports, which track the environmental performance of a business, are typically published only once a year.

Quarterly environmental performance data is now being made available on the Investa website,1 showing the most recent quarterly result as well as the predicted annual portfolio result. This gives investors, tenants and building occupiers current, timely information about how resources and costs are being managed across Investa's portfolio.

Commenting on the initiative Craig Roussac, General Manager Sustainability, Safety and Environment at Investa said: "Transparent performance data on individual buildings is not only a good news story. Open and timely reporting encourages scrutiny and engagement from tenants and occupiers, especially where buildings are not performing to their optimal potential. It also allows investors to make more informed decisions about what they invest in."

Continuous reporting tackles two issues commonly raised regarding sustainability reporting; the ability to act on sustainability reports in a timely way and the breakdown of information into product lines, in this case buildings, rather than aggregated company-wide information. Maintaining building scorecards is a significant step forward in active building ownership and management, as it provides greater visibility on a building's environmental performance, enabling building operators to proactively and responsively manage their buildings from week to week.

Tenants, who typically control more than half of a building's energy consumption, can also use this information in collaboration with owners, to save costs and create more comfortable, productive work spaces for employees.

Jason Leong, Chief Operating Officer at Investa said: "The market consistently demands office buildings with strong environmental performance and, in recent years, both new and existing tenants have increasingly looked to us for information and tools on how to create more energy efficient, environmentally friendly workplaces. We have been able to meet this demand with initiatives such as our Green Lease Guide, Ecospace and the Greenhouse Guarantee.

We believe that by having the key environmental performance data available on a quarterly basis in a user-friendly online format, we can add further value to our tenant service offering."

A study looking at low energy high rise buildings by Sydney University's Warren Centre found that most buildings could easily achieve energy savings of 10 percent by simply streamlining and fine-tuning the existing systems in the buildings.2  Investa believes that continuous reporting will provide them with the information needed to become even more efficient at this 'fine-tuning.'

"With access to more current information, Investa's operational and management staff will be able to compare the current performance of their building against its recent past performance and against buildings of a similar size, enabling continuous improvement in water and energy use and other factors which improve indoor environments," said Mr Leong.

Real Returns

A range of international reports have confirmed that green buildings positively impact everything from operational costs, to return on investment, to reputational equity to productivity.

The recent 'Building Better Returns' project showed that buildings with a high NABERS rating have lower vacancies and incentives paid to tenants, lower operating costs and up to a nine percent higher value and three percent higher rents. Similarly the IPD Australian Green Property Index, which tracks the environmental performance of more than A$50 billion of Australian office buildings, found that Australian office assets with high NABERS Energy ratings delivered an annualised return of 11.3% to March 2012, representing a 190 bps outperformance over CBD assets with a low NABERS Energy rating, which returned 9.4%. The IPD Index also showed that investment returns of buildings refurbished within the last 5 years with higher NABERS Energy ratings show significantly stronger annualised returns (11.8%) over assets with low NABERS Energy ratings (8.7%).4

Across Investa's portfolio, capital expenditure for refurbishments works has been driven by targeted improvements to the environmental performance of buildings where the results include higher NABERS ratings and opportunities for improved value.

Capital works at 400 George Street, Sydney, an A-grade office building in the centre of Sydney's CBD, have significantly contributed to lifting the NABERS Energy Rating from 3.0 stars in 2011 to 4.0 stars today. The works, assisted by a $477,000 government grant under the Green Building Fund, included new equipment as well as the service and adjustment of existing systems to optimise their performance. All of which has resulted in significant operational savings.

Mr Roussac said: "Over the ten years that we have conducted detailed reporting, we have learnt that timeliness, relevance and accuracy are the key ingredients that matter for tenants and investors.

Already, we monitor and actively manage the environmental performance of each of our buildings on a daily basis. With continuous reporting, we're going one step further in our commitment to transparency and disclosure, embedding better reporting into the operations of the business to improve performance and add further value to the service we provide tenants and investors."

1 Refer to www.investa.com.au/office/portfolio
2 As reported in Australasia Outlook Issue 6
3 As reported in Australasia Outlook Issue 6
4 IPD Australian Green Property Index, annualised returns to March 2012