“We’ve got a lot of public disclosure requirements as well as voluntary reporting to do every year,” says Katrina. “For example, we participate in the GRESB survey and we publish an annual sustainability report, not to mention smaller disclosure publications.”
But for Katrina, dabbling in reports and data is only part of the challenge as a sustainability professional working for one of Australia’s leading real estate investment trusts, also listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).
As a publicly listed company, Growthpoint must ensure that every sustainability report and piece of data it publishes is verifiable. Naturally, the transparency of its ESG data is crucial. “It’s really important for us to be transparent and to provide confidence to our securityholders, employees and tenants that we operate in a sustainable way. Supporting our disclosures with robust ESG data is nonnegotiable,” says Katrina.
And this is where sustainability teams often face a challenge.
Achieving transparent and accurate reporting without compromising on speed and efficiency isn’t easy. Katrina sums this up as a three-layered problem: “The first question is, how do we collect all this ESG data across the business and combine it into one source? Next, there’s the challenge of ensuring our data is consistent, complete and accurate, so we can use it for strategic decision-making. And finally, there are various types of disclosures and surveys in which we need to report the same set of ESG data, so we need a reliable way to cut and dice this data in any format, time period, metrics and so on.”
Spends 50% less time on ESG disclosure and reporting
Uses Envizi for Scope 3 GHG emissions data management to disclose relevant emissions sources
Tracks approximately 60 building assets using Envizi to improve energy and resource efficiency
While these challenges and barriers related to ESG data capture, reporting and analysis can often impede sustainability goal setting and target tracking, Katrina says this is where having the IBM® Envizi™ ESG Suite on their side makes a big difference. Growthpoint has been using Envizi software products such as Sustainability Data Management, Building Ratings and Benchmarks, and Interval Meter Monitoring since 2017.
And use cases for IBM Envizi have only grown in light of a new sustainability framework Growthpoint announced in 2022. The framework spans four themes—environment, economic, people and governance—with 11 focus areas material to the business and linked to 20 measurable targets. Environment targets, for example, include achieving net zero emissions for office assets and corporate activities by July 2025, maintaining an average 5-star NABERS Energy rating for office assets, disclosing all relevant sources of Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and diverting on average 35% of waste from landfills for Growthpoint’s owned office assets by 2025.
Katrina and her team used software from IBM Envizi to address several facets of the challenge—starting with consolidating multiple ESG data types sitting siloed across business operations. “Envizi streamlines data capture from different sources and collates it all into a single platform that we can then easily use for reporting. With approximately 60 properties to track, trying to do this manually would be very challenging, and leave room for error,” says Katrina.
But having a single source of truth for their ESG data is not enough. For Katrina and her team to have confidence in the quality of ESG data—which forms the basis of their sustainability disclosures and reports—it’s vital that the data is complete, accurate and can stand up to internal reviews as well as third-party assurance.
“Envizi helps us immensely with this challenge by identifying data gaps and anomalies. For example, if there are missing invoices and we haven’t captured consumption or cost data for a particular period, the accruals functionality helps us fill these gaps for more accurate reporting,” says Katrina, adding, “Envizi allows us to quickly cut and dice the data in any format, time period, data type so it’s a lot easier to manage multiple reporting requirements.”
With the automation of ESG data capture and management, the sustainability team at Growthpoint—currently comprised of three sustainability experts—can reap significant time- and resource-saving benefits. “It would take us double the time to prepare disclosures if we didn’t have Envizi. And last year  a single person could handle the disclosures, so the resource efficiency is significant. Take for example the GRESB survey, which we can complete in half the time thanks to Envizi’s GRESB API functionality. In the past, it took a significant amount of time inputting data to the GRESB spreadsheet. But now we can send all our data within Envizi directly to the GRESB platform,” says Katrina.
Having all of its ESG data streamlined, structured and audit-ready has also enabled the team to cut back on cumbersome manual work and instead use that time for strategic, data-driven decisions. To this end, Katrina finds the performance dashboards (an interactive data visualization feature within IBM Envizi) to be a powerful tool: “With Envizi dashboards it takes me just a few minutes to get insights into the performance of any building asset, so I can have data-backed discussions with the site teams,” she says. “It helps us understand which assets we should focus on for our solar programs, for instance, as that’s one of our pathways to net zero emissions and improve our resilience against future energy price escalations.”
As Growthpoint continues to chart a steady upward trajectory with its sustainability performance, Envizi assists the company with meeting changing stakeholder demands for sustainability information, particularly around proactively disclosing Scope 3 emissions.
On why it is becoming an increasing focus for Growthpoint, Katrina says, “Scope 3 forms a huge percentage of our total emissions, plus it’s becoming important for investors.”
Katrina says Growthpoint has started by identifying relevant sources of Scope 3 emissions. “Scope 3 data, like our travel or waste data, is very challenging to capture and derive accurate emissions calculations from. I find that Envizi can deal with all types of Scope 3 data. So we’ve recently moved our historical Scope 3 data over from spreadsheets into Envizi, working closely with the Envizi technical team. And insights that would have taken months using spreadsheets took just a few weeks with Envizi,” says Katrina.
From energy efficiency to waste and emissions reduction, there’s still a lot of ground to cover; Katrina reflects on what being a more sustainable business can mean for Growthpoint in the long run. “Being sustainable and reducing our impact on the environment by making our assets as efficient and green as possible helps us provide more value to our shareholders, tenants and employees. This ties in with our strategy to invest in sustainable buildings and environmental credentials, as research shows that buildings that have higher green credentials may have less vacancy.”
In an ever-evolving ESG reporting and disclosures landscape, sustainability managers always need to be prepared for new regulations and an emerging theme of framework consolidation. Asked how upcoming changes, such as the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) framework, could impact Growthpoint’s sustainability performance reporting, Katrina says: “I think we are already quite advanced in the level of our disclosures with a clear decarbonization strategy. We are also well set up with platforms like Envizi in our tool kit, so we are prepared for changes on the horizon.”
Growthpoint (link resides outside of ibm.com) is a real estate investment trust that invests in high-quality industrial and office properties. The company had AUD 6.9 billion total assets under management as of December 2022. Founded in 2009, Growthpoint is listed on the ASX (symbol: GOZ) and is part of the S&P/ASX 200.
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