Green River Staff

Helping Transform Capital Markets to Make Them Greener

Green River has built a new online reporting portal for Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB).

On September 5th, 2013, Netherlands-based GRESB launched the portal, which supports analysis of sustainability data on nearly 50,000 properties around the globe. GRESB reporting is used by institutional investors to improve the sustainability performance of their investment portfolios. Green River supported GRESB in designing and building the portal.

screenshot of GRESB portal

Targeting a release date of September 5th, GRESB's 2013 annual report was to be made available online using an entirely new web-based reporting portal. The hard deadline gave Green River less than 4 months to design and develop the portal. The dedicated efforts of the entire team allowed GRESB to excite the audience at launch events in Hong Kong, New York City and Paris, when they simultaneously announced the release of the 2013 Report, with data available via their new portal.

"Michael and his team have developed a data portal and analysis tools that are cutting-edge, allowing the global real estate industry to better understand the sustainability performance of their investments. Green River is, in my opinion, among the world leaders in smart data visualization."
– Nils Kok, co-founder and executive director of GRESB

According to Ulrich Scharf, responsible for IT implementation at GRESB:

"…the release of this portal is the most dramatic step forward GRESB has taken in the recent past, and represents incredible effort from the entire Green River team."

screenshot of score distributions Summary of individual entity scoring, in comparison to all entities

screenshot of quadrant visualization GRESB's quadrant model is a scatterplot used to visualize how an entity compares to its peer group as well all respondents, plotting the scores on implementation and measurement versus management and policy.

screenshot of wind rose pie chart Wind rose diagram, demonstrating how the entity and its peers performed on seven aspects of sustainability

One of the biggest technical challenges with this project was to come up with the visualizations that best present the output of complex analyses of the sustainability data gathered by GRESB. GRESB users have a diverse set of needs resulting in different ways users want to look at the same data. The interface design needed to accommodate all those needs while remaining easy to use. In addition, the entire design needed to lend itself to creating printed reports.

“The interface needed to surface key findings while keeping the user interactions simple and intuitive. I feel that we solved this.”
– Aaron Michal, Green River.

Given the time constraints of the project, the software needed to be developed as quickly as possible. The team utilized a very agile development approach involving rapid iterations of requirements gathering, user interface design, software prototyping and usability testing. This process allowed issues to be uncovered and addressed as quickly as possible, eliminating substantial design changes that would have had a negative impact on the overall schedule. The development process served this project very well because the entire team was committed to the launch date, allowing development to continuously move forward.

The design and development team worked remotely for most of project at various locations in the eastern United States while interacting with a client located in Western Europe. Technology and flexible work hours ensured that interaction between team members happened constantly, regardless of distance and time zone. With both the GRESB and Green River staff putting in long hours to pull this project together, it seemed that the difference of time zone really didn’t matter. On-site meetings, one in Vermont and another in Amsterdam, were extremely helpful in allowing the team members to connect face to face and also have a little fun together.

Ulrich and Michael on the river

Read more about the GRESB reporting portal in the news: