Commercial. Environmental. Social.
A question of strategic orientation
Certifications by LEED, BREEAM and DGNB remain the most important proof that a commercial property is sustainable. They require property sector players to do much more than simply stick a label on their real estate.
A sustainable property portfolio can be achieved by means of long-term management planning, a clearly formulated strategy, and regular dialogue with tenants. At Union Investment, a team of experts with a track record have been using an established rating system since 2009 to implement and evolve our sustainability strategy. On top of that, we work with various property sector institutions and associations to establish uniform standards such as those that form a basis for green leases.
Similarly important in the property sector are communication and dialogue within the industry about sustainability themes, especially as digitalisation is creating many new ways of managing portfolios.
Jan von Mallinckrodt, Head of Segment Development
Sustainability performance of our funds
Using KPIs to document the sustainability performance of our real estate funds is important to us. It enables us to keep our investors informed, it creates greater transparency in the market and also allows comparisons between different products. We are currently able to provide KPIs for three large retail funds which are targeted at private investors and focus on commercial properties, plus data on five large vehicles for institutional investors.
Explanation of key figures
The final energy consumption and CO2 emissions figures provide information on resource efficiency with reference to floor space and per year. In addition, specific consumption data is adjusted for factors such as vacant space, the local climate and users with particularly high energy requirements in order to filter out fluctuations and ensure the best possible comparability of the values. Union Investment uses the adjustment formulas defined by the Germany Property Federation (ZIA).
The Sustainable Investment Check (SI Check) is a scoring module developed by Union Investment which measures the qualitative sustainability features of commercial properties. The SI Check covers features from six different categories: energy, resource use, economics, user comfort, operation, location.
Union Investment's green leases contain provisions in accordance with the guidance set out in “Green Lease Agreements – Recommended clauses and actions for sustainable building use” (as at 2015).
GRESB is the leading assessment system for measuring the sustainability performance of real estate funds. The evaluation of seven different aspects results in the GRESB score. This standardised score makes a significant contribution to transparency around sustainability in the real estate industry.
German Climate Action Plan 2050: a current challenge
A resolution to limit global warming to a maximum of two degrees Celsius was reached at the Global Climate Conference in Paris in 2015. Germany’s federal government derived its German Climate Action Plan 2050 from this resolution. It envisages reducing greenhouse gases by 80 to 95 percent (reference year: 1990).
The German Climate Action Plan has a significant impact on the property sector in Germany. It stipulates that greenhouse gases must be reduced by 30-40 percent by the year 2030. Union Investment is basing its sustainability strategy on those objectives.
Find out more at the Sustainability Portal:
Green leases – good for tenants and landlords
It’s familiar problem: the priorities of a property’s owner don’t always coincide fully with those of users. Green leases exist so that both parties can still pursue joint sustainability objectives. They contain agreements on how owners and tenants can combine to optimise a property’s green performance.
As a member of a working group consisting of decision-makers in the property sector, Union Investment helped to draw up a set of guidelines in 2015 called ‘Green leases – recommended rules and activities for sustainable building use’. Working on that basis, we have signed leases throughout Europe that pursue green objectives.
Find out more at the Sustainability Portal:
Data creates transparency
Data relating to properties forms the primary basis for measuring the sustainability of those properties. Intelligent rating systems, however, are equally important in achieving legitimate assessment and comparisons between properties of the same types of usage and beyond.
Union Investment, for example, uses the SoFi-PSM (Portfolio Sustainability Management) software by thinkstep to gain insights from available data. We have also established the Sl-Check (Sustainable Investment Check) which generates KPIs, allowing us to compare properties within our portfolio very effectively.
The property sector is rapidly becoming digitalised. This should give us the perspective to more actively quantify the economic added value of sustainably designed property, within the context of binding standards for the whole industry.
Find out more at the Sustainability Portal:
Sustainability Portal – promoting communication
Union Investment’s Sustainability Portal is a property sector platform designed to draw attention to trends and throw light on the thinking behind the broad-based sustainability work being done in real estate.
Originally launched to inform people about Union Investment’s strategy, this portal has since evolved into an open platform offering articles by ZIA, BVI, DGNB, LEED. JLL, Westbridge Advisory and others. Content is divided into five different categories and covers a wide range of topics.
The portal is constantly evolving to supply articles which are as entertaining and informative as possible. Please send your proposals directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The number of activities and initiatives undertaken to achieve sustainability in the real estate sector has increased significantly in recent years. Overall, it is becoming ever more apparent that this modern way of doing business is all about a combination of environmental, economic and social factors.
The Green Building movement is relying more and more on technology and data, and performance will lie at the heart of green buildings of the future. GBCI recently launched Arc, a new platform which allows owners and administrators to begin measuring their building performance data straight away.
On average, every European spends approximately 20 hours a day indoors – a large part of which is at work. It is therefore somewhat surprising that healthy buildings have only become a hot topic in recent years, with an increasing number of owners and users now focusing on the issue.
Initiatives and associations: we make an active contribution
Union Investment’s real estate experts are active in around 20 different sustainability organisations, working in areas such as the establishment of standards in the property sector. Here are some examples of our work in the field of sustainability.
The ZIA: Zentraler Immobilien Ausschuss (Central Property Committee) is Germany’s biggest and most influential real estate association. Union Investment has been a member since 2008 and is involved in various work groups.
BVI Bundesverband Investment und Asset Management is an association of investment companies founded in 1970 and is involved in the establishment of uniform standards. Union Investment has been an active member for many years.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen (DGNB, German Sustainable Building Society) was founded in 2007 and is the biggest and most important sustainability organisation in the German property sector. Union Investment is one of its founding members.
The UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI) are an investor initiative founded in 2006 and supported by the United Nations. They are aimed at responsible, sustainable investing. Union Investment has been a member since 2010.
Certifications: initial point of reference
Certifications are an effective means of convincing tenants and investors of a property’s sustainability. Certification systems are constantly developing and can achieve things like differentiating between different types of usage and between new and existing buildings. However, high-quality certificates such as DGNB Platinum, LEED Gold and BREEAM Very Good are the only ones that still offer genuine differentiation and a dependable guarantee of sustainability in the real estate market.
Union Investment works worldwide together with the foremost certifying institutions, providing tenants and investors with initial orientation when assessing the quality of a property. Our rating systems provide more accurate analysis.
Selection of certified properties:
The Centurion Commercial Centre at HafenCity Hamburg has DGNB Platinum certification.
Shopping centres can also achieve high-end certification if designed sustainably. The Riviera shopping centre in the Polish city of Gdynia holds BREEAM Excellent certification.
The office property at 101 Seaport Boulevard in Boston is one of Union Investment’s leading buildings and holds LEED Platinum certification.