CBRE’s approach to creating a sustainable supply chain

PL Staff

As the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm, with more than 7 billion sq. ft. of commercial property and corporate facilities under management, CBRE has a special obligation to help the world address the many challenges posed by the warming planet.

2021 World Sustainability Awards Shortlisted Initiative

This example was shortlisted for the Sustainable Supply Chain Award at the 2021 World Sustainability Awards after being reviewed, scored and discussed by a panel of 17 global Chief Sustainability Officers. The judging panel was impressed by the progress being made and felt this initiative was one that should be shared and celebrated.


As the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm, with more than 7 billion sq. ft. of commercial property and corporate facilities under management, CBRE has a special obligation to help the world address the many challenges posed by the warming planet. CBRE is deeply committed to doing its part to help achieve net zero emissions as quickly as possible.

As part of its net-zero emissions strategy, CBRE has signed The Climate Pledge, which builds on its science-based emissions reduction target announced in 2020. CBRE has committed to achieving net zero carbon by 2040 from its own operations and properties it manages for investors and occupiers, as well as indirect emissions from its vast global supply chain. CBRE’s supply chain manages one of the largest third-party spends in the commercial real estate industry and maintains strong relationships with over 125,000 suppliers globally.

This case study will focus on the steps CBRE is taking to create a sustainable supply chain.


Summarizing CBRE’s approach

CBRE’s approach to creating a sustainable supply chain spans three main areas:

  1. Engaging with sustainable suppliers by developing processes to onboard, assess, and monitor supplier sustainability performance
  2. Driving sustainable purchasing by ensuring buyers have convenient access to sustainable products and services
  3. Enhancing sustainability conversations through learning and development and supplier management programs

Engaging with Sustainable Suppliers

CBRE is a forward-thinking organization focused on engaging with suppliers who meet a wide range of sustainability criteria, including environmental, human rights, ethical and sustainable procurement aspects. CBRE assesses suppliers in three stages:

1. Global Minimum Standards – Baseline standards that suppliers in all regions and lines of business must comply with, including:
• Using RFP, sourcing and contract templates that include environmental sustainability clauses on carbon emissions and waste management
• Completing a sustainability assessment during supplier onboarding
• Accepting CBRE’s Supplier Code of Conduct, purchase order terms and conditions, and anti-bribery and corruption policies

2. Assessment and Rating Process – Supplier evaluations focusing on key risks around finance/SOX, health and safety, compliance, cybersecurity, insurance coverage and modern slavery are carried out through globally recognized, certified third-party providers, including:
• World-Check (sanctions screening)
• ConnXus (diversity)
• EcoVadis (environment, human rights, ethics, and sustainable procurement)
• Regional providers (insurance and financial reviews, QHSE, and supplier processes)

3. Governance, Audits and Performance Reviews – Preferred and critical suppliers must attend regular governance meetings and undergo standardized site audits performed by facility/property managers and operations and supply chain team members. Performance and audit results are tracked and reported centrally by the Global Supply Chain team.

Driving Sustainable Purchasing

CBRE uses the EcoVadis platform to identify suppliers with high sustainability ratings and then highlights them in its Procure-to-Pay application catalogs and rate cards. This allows buyers to easily identify and select sustainable products and services for purchase.

Enhancing Sustainability Conversations

CBRE leads meaningful discussions with employees, suppliers and clients about sustainability through learning and development and supplier management programs.

Learning and development program

CBRE has partnered with the Supply Chain Sustainability School for an on-demand e-learning platform to upskill its workforce on sustainability issues. The learning platform includes 68 modules divided into five categories: the environment, lean construction management, offsite construction, people management and sustainable procurement.

Supplier management programs

CBRE’s global supplier management programs support suppliers and clients in pursuing innovation, sharing best practices, driving operational excellence and aligning processes and tools. Using best-in-class third-party assessment technologies, the supplier management teams regularly review supplier performance and compliance. The team meets with preferred partners periodically to drive continuous improvement programs based on client feedback.

CBRE also has a sustainability services team that guides client and supplier efforts to lessen environmental impact, focusing on outcomes that generate both immediate results and long-term financial benefits through key integrated strategies.



CBRE has created the foundation of a sustainable supply chain by implementing supplier sustainability assessments, driving sustainable purchasing and investing in sustainability-focused teams. Achievements to date include:

  • Through the EcoVadis sustainability assessments, the company has established a spending baseline of approximately US$7 billion with suppliers who meet EcoVadis’ sustainability standards.
  • CBRE has gathered better data insights into its indirect (scope 3) GHG emissions and its capabilities to improve performance among its preferred suppliers.
  • CBRE is the only commercial real estate services provider included in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index—a feat that it has accomplished for the past two years. CBRE was also one of 142 companies (of 605 that are eligible) to merit a place in the 2020 DJSI North America Index—the seventh year in a row that the company has achieved this recognition.

Next steps

CBRE will leverage its data and insights to expand and improve sustainability metrics in RFPs and contracting, supplier management governance, spend with sustainable suppliers and decarbonization efforts in the supply chain. Additionally, sustainability services teams will continue to provide integrated solutions that help clients realize their full potential.

Image source: Konektus Photo /

Table of Contents

Scroll to Top

Share you details and a member of the Sustainability Leaders team will be in contact to give you more information about our network