3 December 2018

UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice

More than 30,000 delegates from some 200 countries are expected to attend the 24th UN Climate Change Conference (COP 24) in Katowice, Poland, on 3–14 December.
A core objective for the attendees of COP 24 is to finalise a robust set of rules showing how the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement is to be put into practice. The aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2050. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently published a report detailing how global warming can be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. However, urgent and ambitious action is required. In view of this, the upcoming two weeks of negotiations in Poland are expected to involve more than a little controversy.
The conference location of Katowice also has symbolic significance. This city of 300,000 inhabitants was at the heart of mining and heavy industry in Silesia for many years. Today, it is undergoing a rapid transformation aimed at creating sustainable structures.
The COP 24 rulebook will also be of major importance for the global real estate industry, because buildings are some of the biggest emitters of CO2 in the economy.
20 November 2018

Energy monitoring project 2019

Union Investment and Apleona Real Estate Management have launched a pilot project in the field of energy monitoring. This involves a representative sub-portfolio of 10 commercial properties in Germany.

The technical framework has been developed to capture consumption data relating to the use of electricity, heat, cooling and water in these properties and to monitor it centrally by means of web-based software.

The pilot project started in November 2018 and will include monthly data reports. It is scheduled to run until the end of 2019, which will give Union Investment and Apleona sufficient time to collect robust and meaningful data. The 10 selected properties are representative of the wider Union Investment portfolio in terms of their size and the diversity of their technical fit-out. The results of the pilot project are intended to help formulating portfolio-wide energy saving targets for individual stages on the path towards achieving a virtually climate-neutral building stock by 2050.

 17 September 2018

Green lease: New ZIA guide published

The ZIA German Property Federation has published a new “Green Lease” guideline. The publication represents the further development of an existing guideline from 2015.

A Green Lease is a lease that is oriented towards sustainability and supports cooperation between tenants and owners of commercial real estate. According to the ZIA definition, a green rental agreement comprises at least one regulation:

  1. for the sustainable use and management of a rental property during ongoing operations
  2. to reduce waste, consumption and emissions
  3. the ecologically sound implementation of conservation, modernisation and other construction measures

The new guideline was drawn up by a "Green Lease" project group in which Union Investment played a key role. In addition to a basic share, extended regulatory options were also defined. Union Investment has been offering its tenants the option of concluding a green lease for many years. The share of green leases per real estate fund is currently up to 17 percent. Based on the new ZIA publication, the Green Lease share shall continue to grow across funds and portfolios.

The new ZIA guide can be downloaded here free of charge (German version).

15 August 2018

Investment climate in Europe

Union Investment asked 163 European real estate investors about their current investment strategies, with sustainability receiving particular attention.

The representative survey on investment sentiment showed that professional European investors in real estate are not yet fully aware of the strategic importance of sustainability factors. In Germany, only around a third of the real estate investors polled stated that sustainability was a key pillar of their investment strategy. In the UK and France, meanwhile, this rose to roughly half of the professional investors taking part in the survey, based on their own assessment.

The differences are even more marked when it comes to the question of whether investment managers have a fixed timetable for reducing CO2 emissions. In Germany, only a quarter of investors answered this question with yes, while in the UK 68 per cent, i.e. a clear majority, stated that they had a fixed timetable. In fact, only two per cent of UK investors said that sustainability was of no importance for them, while among French investors the figure was a quarter, and in Germany a surprising 40 per cent of those surveyed.

For the full analysis of the investment climate survey, see here.

18 July 2018

New Union Investment CSR report

The Union Investment Group has published its corporate social responsibility report for the 2017 financial year now ended. Sustainability features prominently in the report, including in relation to the company’s real estate activities.

Since 1990 and the launch of the first fund managed via a sustainability filter, fund assets in purely sustainable funds have increased to EUR 33.5 billion as at 31 December 2017. For the fourth year in a row, Union Investment was rated by Scope as the best asset manager in the Socially Responsible Investing category in November 2017. The company’s expertise in sustainable investment options has become a genuine core competence. With over 100 sustainable funds, Union Investment has made sustainability accessible to a broad investor base.

Union Investment’s Real Estate segment is covered in detail in the latest combined annual report and CSR report on pages 141–166. In the financial year now ended, eight actively managed real estate funds were again assessed by GRESB, with all of them receiving a Green Star – the highest of four possible ratings. In 2017, Union Investment also contributed to the Green Lease working group set up by the German Property Federation (ZIA) to find even better ways of embedding sustainability clauses in leases. The results of the working group will be published in 2018.

12 June 2018

ZIA Annual Conference

This year’s annual conference (“Tag der Immobilienwirtschaft”) of the German Property Federation (ZIA) is taking place on 13 June 2018 at the Tempodrom event venue in Berlin. Some 1,800 experts from politics, academia and the real estate industry will come together to discuss topical issues.

Sustainability will play a major role at the conference. For the first time, the ZIA has launched a competition to recognise innovative and cost-effective ways of reducing CO2. Companies that have implemented best practice solutions to boost the energy efficiency of their buildings across the various use classes are all eligible to submit entries. Prizes will be awarded for the five best examples. The competition jury is the ZIA Energy Task Force, headed by Thomas Zinnöcker. To be in with a chance of winning an award, the refurbished property needs to have achieved cost-effective savings in CO2, it should be technologically innovative and provide greater operational efficiency after the upgrade. Union Investment is taking part in the competition with its Westpol office property in Frankfurt, a case study in energy-efficiency optimisation.

Further information on the ZIA Annual Conference 2018 can be found here.

14 May 2018

2018 Sustainability Conference

The United Nations have agreed ambitious goals for achieving sustainable development and coexistence by 2030. In response to these objectives, Union Investment has chosen “Sustainable Development Goals in Politics, Entrepreneurship and Investment” as the theme for its 2018 sustainability conference. On 6 June, leading experts will consider this subject from different angles and thereby help to stimulate a wider discussion.

In the Palmengarten botanical gardens, one of the most sustainable conference locations in Frankfurt, philosopher and trend watcher Ruud Veltenaar, chairman of the Euro Group Jeroen Dijsselbloem and former German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel will be among the speakers driving the debate forward. In addition, Ingo Speich, Head of Sustainability and Engagement at Union Investment, will provide insights from the perspective of a major institutional asset manager by demonstrating how integrating environmental, social and governance factors affects portfolio construction. The event management team organising the Frankfurt conference is itself committed to meeting strict sustainability criteria.

The Sustainability Conference is targeted primarily at Union Investment’s institutional customers. For more details, see:

16 April 2018

Berliner Energietage 2018

The Berliner Energietage conference is the leading event for stakeholders involved in Germany’s energy transition. It will be held at Ludwig Erhard Haus on 7–9 May and once again brings experts from politics, public administration and trade associations together with professionals from the energy and real estate industries.

Around 8,900 visitors and expert guests attended the Berliner Energietage in 2017 and similarly strong interest is expected this year. On the agenda for 2018 are Germany’s energy policy, energy efficiency and combating climate change. Over the three days of the conference, some 50 specialist events involving over 300 speakers will take place. The Berliner Energietage is funded primarily by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. Union Investment will deliver a presentation at the conference on 8 May, followed by a panel discussion, on “Accelerating the heating energy transition – key elements for a climate-neutral building stock”. Further information on the event can be found here

6 March 2018

Sustainable Real Assets Conferences 2018

The sustainability of commercial properties is a hot topic that is being addressed by the real estate industry worldwide. GRESB and Siemens have now launched a global conference series on the subject. Conferences will be held on three continents in 2018 – in London, Washington DC and Sydney – with a different programme at each location.

The first conference in the series is scheduled for 25 April in London. This event will focus on investment strategies, new technologies and business models that demand a commitment to sustainable conduct in the real estate industry. The programme comprises four sessions to be held between 8.30 am and 5.00 pm. The guiding theme of building “resilience” will be explored in relation to social megatrends and increasing sustainability requirements. The implications for individual properties and for entire portfolios will be discussed, with urban ensembles and the infrastructure around a building also being considered.

Click here to register. GRESB members can attend the event free of charge.

 28 February 2018

Greenbuild 2018

Green building is a hot topic: On 17 and 18 April 2018, leading experts will gather at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Berlin to discuss the latest trends in the sustainable building sector as they take part in Europe’s most important green building conference. Greenbuild 2018 will offer a forum for addressing real estate matters and examining pressing social issues such as air quality in cities, health considerations in and around buildings, and the impact of global climate change.

On Monday 16 April, the evening before the event, attendees will have the opportunity to find out more about the latest updates to LEED, the international green building rating system. One of the most important of these involves certification of existing buildings, for which new approaches have been designed and implemented. The two following conference days, i.e. 17 and 18 April 2018, will be dedicated to workshops, discussions and networking. Union Investment will be taking part in the discussions and will present the latest sustainability solutions.

This event is also the largest Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) platform in Europe. Interested industry members can register for the event here.

 22 February 2018

40 Percent Symposium 2018

The eighth 40 Percent Symposium will examine how the two megatrends of digitisation and sustainability are related in the context of the real estate industry. On 12 April 2018, established real estate companies and up-and-coming proptechs will meet for an intensive exchange of best practice and knowledge at the Radisson Blu Hotel on the banks of the river Spree, opposite Berlin Cathedral.

The 40 Percent Symposium is aimed at a broad target audience from across the real estate industry, including investors, portfolio managers, project developers and consultants. This year’s event will bring together industry giants and young companies whose innovative digital solutions make it possible to formulate even more ambitious sustainability objectives and to achieve them more efficiently. Eight proptechs will also present themselves and their activities in a disrupter round table session. This will be preceded by a series of presentations illustrating the wider strategic context surrounding the innovative field of digitisation and sustainability. As part of this session, Union Investment and DENEFF (the German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency) will showcase a new tool for managing the investment risks associated with the aims of the Paris Agreement.

The complete programme for the conference, whose sponsors include the German Property Federation (ZIA), the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) and RICS, is available here.

 15 February 2018

New DENEFF tool presented

DENEFF (the German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency) has unveiled a new tool for the real estate industry. The special software commissioned by DENEFF helps to determine the amount of investment needed in existing properties to gradually upgrade them to meet the German government’s energy efficiency objectives by 2050.

The tool is primarily aimed at companies in the real estate sector that want to improve their risk management in the context of the government’s Climate Protection Plan 2050. It enables analysis to be produced for individual properties and for entire portfolios. The varying demands of the different commercial property types in the office, retail, hotel and logistics sectors are explicitly taken into consideration. A timeline indicates what investments are needed and when they should be made in order to ensure the existing building stock continues to comply with the increasingly strict demands of the Climate Protection Plan. As one of the largest real estate holders in Europe, Union Investment made its real estate data available during the development process in order to ensure the tool would work well in practice. In addition, the DENEFF tool received funding from the relevant Federal Ministry.

27 October 2017

2017 Climate Change Conference in Bonn

The UN’s 23rd Climate Change Conference will be held in Bonn from 6 to 17 November 2017. It will be attended by delegates from all the countries that have signed and ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The negotiations at the conference will focus on implementing the resolutions reached under the Paris Agreement. It is hoped that delegates will find constructive solutions that demonstrate how the objectives of the Agreement can be achieved in the long term. The aim is to produce a “rulebook” that will then be adopted at the next Climate Change Conference, due to be held in Katowice, Poland, in 2018.

The political negotiations will be accompanied by an extensive supporting programme in which representatives from different sectors of society, including business, academia, religious institutions and environmental associations, will engage in dialogue. The real estate industry will also be taking part in this exchange, for example represented by ZIA: German Property Federation. With its Climate Protection Plan 2050, Germany is one of the first countries in the world to have already put forward a long-term strategy that is aligned with the Paris climate accord. However, there is still more work to be done on refining the Climate Protection Plan and making targets measurable and quantifiable. The UN Climate Change Secretariat is based in Bonn, which is why the city has been chosen as the venue for the conference.

20 September 2017

2017 GRESB results for Europe: presentation and discussion in Hamburg on 18 October

GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) is the world’s leading assessment system for rating the sustainability performance of real estate funds. The results of the GRESB assessment are collected and published on an annual basis. Working closely with Union Investment, the results and analytical insights for Europe, and for the German real estate market in particular, will be presented in Hamburg on 18 October.

On this date, the organisers will welcome leading representatives from across the European real estate industry to the EMPORIO office tower on Valentinskamp, where the event will be held from 11.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. Presentations, a case study and an open panel discussion will allow the assembled industry experts to discuss how investors can implement sustainability requirements in practice. This will involve reviewing the latest sustainability trends in the world of real estate and examining their economic potential. The speakers and attendees will include Sander Paul von Tongeren (GRESB), Jan von Mallinckrodt (Union Investment), Thies Grothe (ZIA) and Dr Birgit Memminger-Rieve (ES EnviroSustain).

The event is free of charge to attend. Registration is open until 16 October. A link to the registration form and more detailed information about the event programme are available here:

15 August 2017

Survey of major investors: sustainable investment is gaining in importance

The attitudes of institutional investors in Germany towards sustainable investment have become even more positive in 2017. An annual sentiment index compiled by Professor Henry Schäfer of the University of Stuttgart in collaboration with Union Investment confirms this trend.

The sentiment index is based on data from a survey of 204 major investors, including insurance companies, pension funds, banks, corporations and charitable trusts, with total assets under management of almost EUR 5 trillion. The index scale ranges from -100 to +100. It has risen steadily over recent years and now stands at nearly +20 points, up from just +5.4 points in 2013.

Two thirds of the investors surveyed confirmed that they are pursuing sustainable investment strategies. Five years ago, the proportion was less than half. The study indicates that sustainability has evolved from a soft criterion to a hard investment criterion, with 64 per cent of the institutional investors surveyed now regarding economic aspects as a crucial factor when making sustainable investments. That represents a significant increase of 22 percentage points compared to 2013.

Real estate accounts for almost a quarter of all sustainable investment, with only bonds and equities having slightly higher allocations.

17 July 2017

Prototype for calculating climate investments presented

At the end of June 2017, members of parliament met with real estate industry experts at the German Bundestag to discuss the financing of climate protection investments in commercial property.

At the meeting, DENEFF (the German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency) and Union Investment jointly presented the results of an exclusive pilot project. These results included a new tool which indicates what investments are needed in commercial properties and when they should be made in order to comply with the requirements of the Climate Protection Plan 2050.

DENEFF commissioned Hamburg-based consultancy the CO-Firm to develop a tool to measure and quantify the effect of investments in climate protection measures. The tool was also designed to ensure greater consideration is given to climate policy requirements when acquiring properties. Union Investment is the strategic partner for practical implementation of the tool.

12 June 2017

Sustainability in Union Investment’s latest annual report

The Union Investment Group recently published its full report for the 2016 financial year. Information on the sustainability of the property portfolio is presented in detail on pages 123–146.

The report clearly demonstrates that sustainability is a key element of the company’s overarching investment strategy and that Union Investment takes a holistic view of the issue. The various tools used to measure sustainability performance in the real estate segment are also presented. The report is notable for its high level of transparency. Data relating to 240 properties was taken into account when compiling the key performance indicators, corresponding to 78 per cent of the portfolio space and equivalent to 5,265,089 square metres of usable floor area.

Other key indicators, including final energy consumption, CO2 emissions, water consumption and waste volume, are determined as combined totals for the entire real estate portfolio, with mean values then being defined and the figures also broken down by property type. The average consumption per property per year is 251 kWh of energy, 63 kg of CO2 and 0.59 cubic litres of water per square metre. Investors are also provided with an overview of certified properties, with the proportion by value having increased from 43 to 55 per cent of the entire portfolio.

The full annual report is available at:

8 May 2017

2017 HAWtech conference: Building for the Future

The German Alliance for Applied Sciences – HAWtech comprises six German universities of applied sciences, all with a strong technical focus in their research and teaching. The alliance held its third annual conference on 4 and 5 May in Berlin. Representatives from the worlds of research, politics and business met at HTW Berlin’s Wilhelminenhof campus to discuss current trends in sustainability and the digitisation of construction.

The first day of the event featured specialist presentations from a variety of perspectives. Topics ranged from the disruptive forces and opportunities offered by digitisation of the construction industry to the scientific assessment of a property throughout its entire lifecycle. Predictions for the period up to 2040 were made. The speakers came from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, Aachen University of Applied Sciences, Dresden University of Applied Sciences and other institutes. The day concluded with a panel discussion on the headline theme of innovation.

The second day was divided into four workshops focusing on sustainability and digitisation. Each of the working groups met in the university’s lecture halls, where the experts discussed key industry trends including sustainable refurbishment of existing properties and requirements for the use of building information modelling. Union Investment employees also took part in the event.

19 April 2017

Study by the University of Regensburg: The added value of sustainability in figures

A recent study by the University of Regensburg examined the cost-benefit ratio of sustainably designed commercial properties. The analysis of some 200 office buildings is based on data made available by Union Investment.

The authors from the International Real Estate Business School (IREBS) conclude that sustainability certificates have a mixed impact. On the one hand, LEED, BREEAM and DGNB ratings have increasingly become the norm and are no longer a differentiating factor in the standard valuation classes. On the other hand, the highest certification levels, i.e. LEED Platinum, DGNB Platinum and BREEAM Very Good, still stand out and have a measurable effect on rents and market values.

The IREBS researchers also found that an increase of 100 kWh per square metre in a building’s energy requirement can reduce the monthly rent by five per cent or more. In this case, the market value could fall by over EUR 300 per square metre. The conclusion is clear: what really matters to market players is the sum of the sustainability features that contribute to the property’s certification, not merely the presence of a label.

10 March 2017

BVI Sustainability Day 2017: expert seminar in Frankfurt

Sustainability has been a priority issue for the German Investment and Asset Management Association (BVI) for many years. The organisation regularly provides new insights into future developments around sustainability in the real estate sector, including through events such as the upcoming one-day expert seminar on Wednesday, 19 April 2017.

From 10.30 am to 5.30 pm, discussion in the conference rooms at BVI headquarters in Frankfurt will focus on sustainable investment strategies across various asset classes. Fund managers can use the event to learn about sources that allow them to stay abreast of sustainability trends and their impact. In addition, ways of assessing a fund’s sustainability will also be discussed. Another key topic will be how to implement the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and which detailed issues need to be addressed when doing so.

Attending the seminar costs EUR 350 for BVI members and EUR 700 for non-members. Click here to register.

03 February 2017

Taking stock: ECE Sustainability Conference 2017

ECE hosted a major sustainability conference on 2 February 2017 on the theme of “An eye on real estate: today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow”. Some 300 industry players gathered at the company’s premises in the Hamburg district of Poppenbüttel to discuss current issues around sustainability.

Under the auspices of Alexander Otto and Ole von Beust, the conference called for closer networking between all members of the real estate industry in order to ensure that tough climate protection goals can be achieved in an appropriate manner. The attendees included planners, owners, users and politicians – since the latter group largely defines the framework for action.

In addition to discussing the feasibility of political objectives, the conference focused on presenting ideas and possible solutions. For example, software developer Cisco Systems showcased intelligent data systems that facilitate control of light, ventilation and heating in office buildings. Another focal point of the conference was the treatment of existing building stock. The discussion showed that the sustainability of new builds is widely perceived by the public as being more important than updating existing properties. Architects GRAFT Gesellschaft von Architekten mbH presented a number of impressive examples of how existing commercial buildings can be successfully refurbished.

Representatives from Union Investment also attended the ECE Sustainability Conference 2017 and took an active part in the discussions.