4 Sustainability KPIs You Should Be Tracking

When it comes to reporting on sustainability initiatives for your commercial real estate portfolio, it can be difficult to collect, evaluate and share ESG data. There are hundreds of KPIs to consider and the data you need probably isn’t all in one place. In some cases, sustainability teams have to manually collect data from other teams within their organization or chase down tenants to get a complete picture. Once aggregated, data may need to be re-interpreted to meet the definition of a specific framework. On top of that, ESG frameworks change annually resulting in new types of data to collect and track each year.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data and ways to slice and dice it into different KPIs, we identified the top four you need for environmental reporting as part of any ESG framework. At a portfolio level, you’ll want to capture the KPIs listed below along with the data coverage by square foot you have for each.

Total energy consumption (KWh/MWh)
To get this information, you’ll have to start at the building level and aggregate it for a complete picture of your portfolio’s performance. Your primary inputs at the building level are electricity, water, and gas. There are several ways to monitor a building’s utility consumption, and choosing the best method comes down to a portfolio’s specific needs. To make the best use of this data, it is important to understand factors that may affect a building’s energy usage and what you can do about it.

Total GHG emissions (metric tonnes)
A greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator can convert your easily trackable energy consumption into GHG emissions. The EPA’s free tool translates abstract measurements into concrete terms you can understand, such as the annual emissions from cars, households, or power plants. You’ll want to differentiate between total tenant (indirectly) controlled GHG emissions (Scope 2) and total landlord (directly) controlled GHG emissions (Scope 1).

Total number of efficiency projects or audits
Efficiency projects can encompass many things from switching to LED lighting to optimizing HVAC systems to reducing water consumption and increasing waste diversion. Capturing all of these projects, big or small, is critical to telling your sustainability story. For example:

  • Utilizing real-time energy management and leveraging sub-meter data to investigate improvement opportunities at under-performing assets
  • Using portfolio-wide real-time electricity monitoring with budget mapping across your portfolio to gain better insight for the year that allows you to improve efficiency and reduce electricity waste
  • Investing in a renewable energy mix to power your portfolio by understanding how your utility companies source electricity
  • Investigating property areas with the highest water consumption and replacing equipment, such as cooling towers and installing low-flow fixtures. 
  • Leveraging water sub-metering systems to pinpoint anomalies in water consumption.
  • Investing in eco-friendly waste management and setting strong goals to reduce waste, repurpose materials and recycle across every property

Total energy saved
For the most part, any worthwhile efficiency project will result in energy savings measured by kilo or megawatt hours. Demonstrating the progress you’ve made toward your energy consumption reduction goals is an essential part of ESG reporting.