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In its most recent 10-K filing, Host Hotels & Resorts included two charts showing energy and water use at its properties over the prior three years. Each chart showed steep descents in the company's consumption of those resources. The disclosure, and the circumstances leading up to it, were unusual in at least two respects.
One was that the company, a publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT), reported those numbers in its financials at all. Indeed, in the fiscal-year 2015 annual reports of the 10 companies with the largest revenue in each of 79 industries, 19 percent of about 4,000 possible sustainability disclosure entries were reported as metrics, according to the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board.
In contrast, the most common form of sustainability disclosure was generic boilerplate language, which was used in 43 percent of all disclosure entries analyzed by SASB. The organization, which sets voluntary corporate sustainability disclosure standards for those 79 industries, tends to frown on boilerplate, defining the word as “generic statements that are not specifically tailored to the individual company and the risks it faces” and branding its use as “inadequate for investment decision-making.”
To SASB, the specificity of Host Hotel’s charts in its 2017 Management Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) was a shining example of investor-friendly sustainability reporting. Most often, the impetus for reporting such environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in 10-Ks stems from someone with a title like that of Michael Chang, Host’s director of energy and sustainability.
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