Nine key metrics to
track sustainability

Accelerate your sustainability journey with the power of data

Business leaders don’t have to choose between optimizing financial and operational performance and achieving sustainability targets. With the right tools and data-driven insights, you can fuel both objectives and make a substantial impact on your bottom line while also reducing carbon emissions and creating a more sustainable workplace—with the performance metrics to prove it.

Getting an accurate baseline of your sustainability progress requires a variety of data from multiple sources. In a complex portfolio, you may be looking at hundreds of monthly utility bills in addition to labor costs, asset valuations, industry benchmarks and countless other data points and sources.

A centralized data and analytics platform is essential to help your team efficiently automate, aggregate and make sense of how your real estate is performing on sustainability today, as well as easily identify opportunities for future improvement. To advance your data-driven sustainability strategy, begin by exploring the range of financial and environmental performance metrics that forward-looking organizations are increasingly tracking.

Top financial metrics

Sustainability programs can directly impact financial performance, from reducing maintenance and utility bills to enhancing a building’s long-term value. Providing direct sightlines into these positive financial impacts can also earn C-suite buy-in for future sustainability initiatives.

The following are key financial metrics to track on the journey to a more sustainable portfolio.

Utility costs

It’s important to evaluate utility bills in aggregate to get a topline, consolidated view of savings. But analyzing also at the site level provides a more detailed understanding, including the various utility rate structures and incentives across different markets. For example, some utility providers offer a lower rate for companies that reduce energy use or demand below a certain threshold. Compiling such nuanced details can seem overwhelming for a large portfolio, but today’s data and analytics tools can automate data gathering and produce powerful analytics to glean insights.

Asset value

A growing number of commercial real estate property owners are keen on improving environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) standards throughout their portfolio because sustainability improvements can substantially boost a property’s value. The U.S. Green Building Council reports that upfront investment in green building makes properties more valuable, with a growing number of building owners seeing a 10% or greater increase in asset value. Initiatives that align with sustainability certification programs like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) are likely to have the greatest impact on asset value.


To make an airtight business case for up-front investment in a new project, organizations need to determine the total cost of ownership and savings over time. When they replace older building systems with more modernized solutions, building operators not only gain greater control and insight into equipment performance, but also reduce maintenance expenses and improve building resiliency—enhancing sustainability. But it can be difficult to assess the true impact of such initiatives, from calculating baseline spending for maintenance repairs to comparing equipment data across a large portfolio—that’s where advanced data and analytics tools can help.

Results of specific initiatives

Any major project or equipment investment also needs to be monitored for performance, from renewable energy installations and chiller replacements to building automation system upgrades. But it’s not just about measuring data—it's also about using that data to manage and improve equipment performance.

Key environmental metrics 

Successful corporate ESG programs already rely on environmental metrics to demonstrate progress to stakeholders. But new technology and automation tools are creating more opportunity to measure impact across diverse portfolios.

The following are some of the baseline environmental metrics your organization should be tracking:

Energy reductions

When a portfolio includes multiple building types in different climate zones and of various uses and sizes, it can be difficult to compare trends in overall energy reductions. Energy reductions can be measured on an absolute basis, but a more meaningful metric is energy reductions normalized for factors such as production, occupancy, and weather.

Energy use intensity

Evaluating energy usage per square foot can also help demonstrate how one building’s energy consumption measures up to another’s.

Water usage 

Monitoring water use—in terms of overall reduction and intensity metrics like consumption per occupant—is an important measure of sustainability progress.

Waste reduction and diversion

Amid pollution and overflowing landfills, this metric quantifies the percentage of waste diverted to composting and recycling programs, as well as eliminated through waste management programs.

Carbon emissions

Simply reducing a building or portfolio’s dependence on fossil fuel is one of the first and most important measures of sustainability. As more organizations commit to net zero carbon initiatives, this is a must-track metric for most real estate teams. It’s challenging enough to track emissions related to your own operations, and now organizations are under pressure to also measure indirect emissions from upstream and downstream activities, such as employee commutes and vendor supply chains. Effectively measuring this piece of the data puzzle requires substantial collaboration across business units.

Translating key metrics into meaningful change

By accurately monitoring and reporting on these and other key sustainability metrics across your real estate portfolio, your team will be able to provide your C-suite, investors and other stakeholders with full visibility into your environmental footprint today and in the future. You’ll also be able to quickly pinpoint opportunities to reduce operating expenses, track project progress from start to finish and improve financial forecasting. 

Ultimately, a strong data and analytics platform can help you advance both sustainability and financial goals by providing more insights with fewer headaches. And with a centralized, automated approach, you’ll have the complete, accurate information you need in one easy-to-use interface, with strong governance processes in place.

To learn more about how effective data and analytics can help you translate your sustainability ambitions into business outcomes, visit our website or contact our energy and sustainability experts today.