Creating Resilience

Is Sustainability Certification in Real Estate Worth it? 2023

November 29, 2023 10 Minute Read

sustainable office building

Overview

CBRE’s third edition of the ‘Is Sustainability Certification in Real Estate Worth it?’ research report focuses on how office sustainability certifications impact value creation, but also the role they are playing in making the office sector future fit.

This report aims to enhance the availability of data and insight into the relationship between sustainability and value in real estate, one of the sectors with the greatest potential to contribute to reducing carbon emissions. This transparency is important to real estate decision makers looking to financially justify action to meet sustainability targets.

Results

Conclusions presented in this report show a significant correlation between sustainability certificates and buildings’ market value.

The key highlights from the report are:

  1. Property owners and investors continue to pursue environmental certifications for their office properties. In the markets analysed, the certified share stands at 22% as at H1 2023, compared with 15% in 2019. Decision-making regarding certifications seems to happen later in the building development process, which reflects property owners’ considerations regarding potential changes in occupier and investor preferences, as well as legislation.
  2. Certified office take-up has risen from 31% of the market in 2019, to 34% as at H1 2023, confirming the trend that sustainability is an important factor for occupiers in building selection. However, the local office supply composition restricts the scope for occupiers to choose certified buildings. In the case of mature office markets, the process of certification for new and refurbished buildings in the most sought-after locations will take time, thus impacting the availability of certified stock.
  3. Certification can be a significant but not a determining factor in lowering vacancy risk. Balancing locational preferences with the sustainability agenda remains a challenge when committing to new space/location. In the short-term, the balance in the local markets will be influenced by the share of the certified space under construction. Across the sample, the certified share of the pipeline is a lot higher than the certified share of existing stock.
  4. There is an enduring benefit to rents from verifiable measures to reduce carbon emissions. When the effects of building size, location, age, and renovation history are accounted for, buildings with sustainability certifications command a 7% rental premium. The rental premium exists for certified office buildings, regardless of building year. Hence, certifying both new and existing buildings ensures higher office rents compared to non-certified stock.
  5. To allow for one-on-one comparison with our analysis conducted in 2022 (where the premium identified was 5.5%), we have conducted a separate analysis by limiting the sample to the same markets. For that sample, the regression model shows a 6.6% rental premium, which indicates positive development in the rental premium year-over-year.
  6. Assets with lower EPC ratings generate on average lower rental levels than assets with better ratings. Countries where there is a binding legislation related to energy performance of office assets show a clearer underperformance of lower EPC ratings. In line with occupiers increasingly targeting the most energy efficient stock, property owners that invest early in retrofitting their portfolio stand to benefit the most in the long-term.
 

Context, Data Description and Method

The report covers 19 European countries and 40 cities. CBRE studied 19,400 lease agreements – of which 6,100 leases occurred in certified buildings and 13,300 leases occurred in non‑certified buildings.

Get in touch to discuss our results and help you with the opportunities presented by the findings.

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