Principal® announced today that two of its private equity property strategies and a European core property strategy managed by Principal Real Estate Investors received 4-star ratings in 2021 from GRESB, the global ESG benchmark for real estate assets. The ratings place all three strategies in the top 40% of GRESB participants worldwide1 and exhibit a long-standing commitment by Principal Real Estate Investors to integrate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards into its investment practices while pursuing positive financial results for clients.
This is the sixth consecutive year the core and core-plus U.S. private real estate equity strategies have earned a 4-star rating from GRESB and scored in the top 25 of their peer groups.
"Our strong GRESB performance over the past six years demonstrates the success of our ESG program with the ability of funds to continually implement new ESG practices and perform well against their peers in the U.S. and Europe," said Jennifer McConkey, senior director of operations and sustainability for Principal Real Estate Investors. “With ESG continuing to rise in prominence as a key financial and risk management strategy, we are committed to staying on top of the latest developments in the real estate industry to help clients achieve positive performance outcomes."
In total, Principal submitted two U.S. funds and six European funds for participation in GRESB in 2021, six of which were also submitted in 2020. Of the six, four improved performance in 2021 compared to their 2020 GRESB assessments. In general, this improvement was due to better tenant engagement, increased property data coverage, and utility and greenhouse gas data verification. In particular, the “G” rating for governance was especially strong across all eight Principal strategies in GRESB’s ESG breakdown.
All eight strategies outperformed the peer average in every scored category for management, which includes leadership, policies, reporting, risk management, and stakeholder engagement. In addition, all strategies scored perfectly on data monitoring and review in the performance category.
The overarching ESG framework for Principal Real Estate Investors, called the Pillars of Responsible Property Investing, helps real estate investments demonstrate market resilience, corporate governance, and property performance. Principal has recently integrated industrial properties, additional European properties, and lending efforts into ESG practices, and is currently conducting fund-level climate risk assessments.
Each year, GRESB assesses and benchmarks the ESG performance of real assets worldwide. Overall fund participation grew by 24% this year to 1,520. This is the highest percentage increase the assessment has seen since 2012 and the highest ever increase in total numbers. The benchmark now covers $5.7 trillion of AUM (up from $4.8 trillion) and nearly 117,000 individual assets. The increase has been driven mainly by Europe, which saw massive growth for the second year in a row and now accounts for nearly half of the entire benchmark. According to GRESB, high continued growth in Europe is likely driven by both investor interest in ESG data and the industry’s focus on and attention to emerging regulations.
Information on the 2021 GRESB Real Estate results can be found at GRESB.com.