Global Reporting Initiative - Construction and Real Estate Sector Supplement (CRESS)

Global Reporting Initiative - Construction and Real Estate Sector Supplement (CRESS)

The GRI Construction and Real Estate Sector Supplement (CRESS) GRI provides sector guidance for all reporting organizations in the construction and real estate sector, enabling them to measure and report their sustainability performance.

GRI CRESS provides organizations in the sector with a tailored version of GRI’s G3.1 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. It includes the original Guidelines and additional commentaries and Performance Indicators, developed especially for the sector which captures the issues that matter most for construction and real estate companies.

The Construction and Real Estate Sector Supplement covers key sector-specific issues, including:

• Product and service labelling, including building and materials certification
• Building energy intensity
• Water intensity
• GHG emissions relating to buildings in use
• Management and remediation of contaminated land
• Labour health and safety topics
• Resettlement of local communities
• Contractor and subcontractor labour issues

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Monday, 18th November 2013

Shamir Ghumra, Aggregate Industries

We have been using GRI3 for a number of years and have progressively moved up to A+. SGS provide the assurance for our disclosures. We are not going to be moving onto GRI4 in the near future. There remains much more to develop internally before moving the goalposts. GRI and other such mechanisms can provide a useful yardstick of disclosure but it may not serve as a proxy for performance.


Monday, 18th November 2013

Elizabeth Ness, Crest Nicholson

We have never used CRESS so comments are referring to GRI3 and GRI4.

GRI3 is a useful check to make sure we are considering all bases. We have always deliberately chosen level B as level A seems to be mostly additional bureaucracy rather than added value. We try to gear our reporting to be centred on Materiality and Stakeholders needs. We have chosen to get GRI to check the report – mostly for a limited group of external stakeholders and the benchmarking fraternity. We don’t feel it has added anything to our reporting, and don’t think the index has ever been accessed more than a couple of times. For GRI4 we have briefly reviewed it, and feel it looks very time consuming. We are not at all sure there is proportional added value. We are content to let the previous cohorts of Level A reporters road-test it and then decide what to do in a couple of years.

I was part of the Stakeholder engagement to develop GRI3, and I thought at the time that those involved could do with a little more consideration of the range of operations being covered and the limited time which companies can devote to the Index. There seemed to be a preponderance of consultants and public sector. I fear that unless GRI Framework becomes less bureaucratic and onerous, the good may be lost in the quest for the perfect – particularly now there are more emerging Company Law requirements for SEE reporting in ARAs. There used to be a version for SMEs (High 5) – it was a good idea.

We do like Crown Estates approach to integrated reporting!


Monday, 18th November 2013

Ranald Lawrence, Bennetts Associates

As we are reporting to G4 guidelines we have not used CRESS beyond guiding our approach to our selection of topics for disclosure. Having only just completed our first GRI-aligned report, the 266-page Implementation Manual is daunting, has many circular references to other sections, has difficult jargon and it runs the danger of requiring so much training as to prevent uptake by smaller organisations. The G4 guidelines introduces a new element – Disclosures on Management Approach – without a clear indication of what this is beyond three pages of very general guidance and it results in a report into the administration of the sustainability policy, rather than the policy itself.

For smaller organisations to achieve compliance, templates with straightforward indicators that deal with quantitative disclosures would be an improvement. An app or interactive pdf would achieve this. General Disclosure on Management Approach could also have a template outlining the sustainability management structures in the organisation. Currently, it is difficult to know where to draw the line.

The final report is very loaded in technical jargon that those who are not familiar with reporting to GRI will not be able to understand it. It therefore defeats the aim of communicating an organisation’s commitment to sustainability. Larger companies can outsource the report who then produce a reader friendly version but this is not possible for small companies.

I’m not sure if a one size fits all GRI is the best set-up – the Core/Comprehensive options could be developed into further streams depending on the scale of the organisation. Small but well structured organisations require much more in-house administrative resources which is unfeasible. Furthermore, I believe that reporting should not be an end in itself – but part of a wider process of reflection.


Monday, 18th November 2013

Jane Baptist, The Crown Estate

We are not currently reporting against GRI, after having done so for three years. It was very time consuming, especially adding links to different parts of our report, and we did not seem to get any value out of it apart from initially when it gave us an idea of what we should be aiming for. I don’t believe it worked well to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and we would never quote it. We didn’t use GRI to drive our strategy and used it more as an add-on. I believe our own messages in our Integrated Report and on our website conveys our commitment better. I’m not convinced that our GRI rating was of interest to other companies.


Monday, 18th November 2013

Debbie Hobbs, Legal & General Property

GRI CRESS is useful to provide consistent standard for sustainability reporting. We find it fairly easy to use once we had received training, however as a subsidiary of a large company, there is difficulty in determining which parts are applicable to the information you wish to report. The training explained how to navigate the information, however, there was still confusion at the point of compiling the report. A clearer process, with templates and online worksheets could be useful. Also, simplifying the verification process to determine whether you have achieved GRI reporting would be helpful to avoid the expense of third party verification.

For GRI CRESS to become a norm, the introduction of mandatory carbon reporting in the UK has meant that the main issues for us is 'consistency' in reporting. We currently report to approximately 23 different organisations each year ( FTSE4 Good, Dow Jones Sustainability Index etc) and so to be able to report our information in a single format that anybody could use would be a great step forward.


Monday, 18th November 2013

Jo Smallwood, Arup

GRI CRESS creates consistency across the industry around information disclosure and materiality reviews. It challenges the status quo on what is important to an organisation. Where there is confusion, stakeholder engagement can clarify. It contains great value if used at the right time and the reasons for using it are clear to all e.g. to answer questions such as ‘is this issue significant (material), do I know if my stakeholders care about this?’

Greater attention should be given to the use of GRI CRESS as a strategic sense-check; are we focussed on all the right aspects, have we missed anything? Do we need to check with our stakeholder whether they care about other aspects GRI CRESS advises us to care about? Positioning GRI as a strategic decision making tool is a great way to encourage take up. Investors and other stakeholder groups need to recognise its value and communicate it to the industry. GRI’s recognition is limited to the sustainability industry and perhaps informed investors/analysts and so it’s value in communicating commitment to sustainability is also limited. Process aspects (materiality, stakeholder engagement etc) help and organisation’s decision making and its communication of this helps to demonstrate the rationale of an organisation’s commitment.

It has a broad coverage but possibly risk assessment, mitigation and management arrangements are worth further consideration?

Barriers to take up could be its design, navigation and sheer weight of it. Client’s do find the document daunting to work through BUT working through it after the first year can be done efficiently. Once the process is complete, they recognise the value of the resulting conversations and conclusions. There are areas where the language either is too prescriptive or unclear but this could be due to having an international audience. An interactive pdf or an App to manage the weight of information, allowing the top layer of information to be relatively light and easily navigable, might change this. Also, ensuring that it maintains consistency with other reporting initiatives (EPRA, GRESB, DJSI) and no duplication would add value.


Monday, 18th November 2013

Maaike Fleur, Global Reporting Initiative

As GRI launched the new Sustainability Reporting Guidelines G4 ( in May this year the CRESS content will be re-organized to match with G4. This will be published in the next few months.

GRI also published research to ‘Sustainability topics for sectors: What do stakeholders want to know?’ ( At page 99 you find that 31 topics were found for Real Estate.


UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) logo

Thursday, 11th April 2013

Anna Surgenor, UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC)

According to new research by the European Commission the GRI Guidelines, along with the UN Global Compact, are now the dominant CSR instruments used by European companies.


Friday, 15th March 2013

John Alker

Some would call GRI the 'gold standard' of measurement and reporting tools. UK-GBC actually co-funded the development of this so-called 'Sector Supplement' for the Construction and Real Estate Sector a few years ago. Those who use GRI swear by it, but my understanding is that it is not to be undertaken lightly!


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