The built environment consumes around 40% of the world’s energy and accounts for up to 30% of the world’s annual GHG emissions. Additionally, the building industry is a large user of raw materials. As a global real estate investor, we feel it is part of our responsibility to help find solutions. To contribute to a CO2-neutral, sustainable, circular, resilient and healthy living environment, and to enhance stakeholder value by investing in sustainable real estate. We are convinced that our approach reduces risk, increases client returns and makes our real estate assets and portfolios more attractive.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors will continue to play a major role in our investment strategy. We are targeting a zero carbon, nearly energy neutral and resilient portfolio before 2045 (approx. 50 kWh/m2 GLA per year). This will include an analysis of asset-level climate risks, including a plan of how to mitigate these risks. We have set out clear targets for the reduction of our environmental footprint and improving our positive social impact.
To make a start, we have formulated the following ‘Paris-proof’ objectives for the mid-term:
Highly sustainable Fund
The Fund currently has a GRESB 5-star rating (the highest) and recorded a strong improvement in its score in the 2019 GRESB assessment. To improve this score further, we have set out a responsible investment strategy which focuses on: building sustainability performance, energy reduction, renewable energy sources on location, rental contracts with a sustainability clause, tenant satisfaction, health & safety on construction sites, and tenant engagement on sustainability. We also plan to make an active contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, including Sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), Affordable and clean energy (SDG 7) and Decent work and economic growth (SDG 8).
Invest in sustainable buildings
Sustainable building certificates enable us to show where we are in terms of sustainability at asset level and how far we still have to go. We use internationally accepted sustainability certificates such as BREEAM to measure and assess the overall sustainability of our assets. Certificates measure criteria that go beyond legislative requirements and provide us with instruments to encourage more responsible tenant behaviour, such as cutting waste and reducing energy consumption. Our goal is to obtain 100% insight into our assets' sustainability performance having 100% certified assets with BREEAM-NL In-Use VERY GOOD or better by end of 2021 on asset level and an BREEAM-NL In-Use GOOD or better at management level. Acquisition of new developments will have BREEAM-NL VERY GOOD or better. In addition, benchmarks help us to make informed business decisions to mitigate environmental, social and governance risks and enhance our long-term returns.
Reduction of environmental impact
We are committed to making environmental stewardship an integral part of our daily operations and strive to reduce both our direct and indirect environmental footprint. Data measurement and consistent reporting via certification schemes help us to increase our buildings’ energy efficiency and reduce the associated costs, in cooperation with our tenants. We have adopted maintenance strategies that include modern, energy-efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems.
Energy efficiency is the most cost effective way for the Fund to reduce carbon emissions but we also encourage the use of renewable energy sources. We buy certified green electricity and are boosting alternative energy use. Our goal is that 75% of the Fund's portfolio has an energy label A or better (energy index <1.2) by end 2021.
The Office Fund’s sustainability strategy is focused on reducing the environmental impact of its properties while enhancing comfort, all in cooperation with our tenants and other stakeholders. For example, our standard programme of requirements for acquisitions and renovations focuses on structural quality, energy-efficient installations, water-saving fittings and maintenance-friendly and recycled materials. We have limited control in terms of influencing and measuring energy, water and waste reductions at tenant level, so our initial focus is on data collection of sustainability indicators in areas that we can control. By 2021 our annual reduction of environmental impact should be increased from 2% in 2019 to 5%.
Enhancing stakeholder value
At Bouwinvest, we believe that the best way to engage our stakeholders is through open and transparent dialogue and positive collaboration that cements long-term returns on investment and maximises our positive impact. Our objective is that clients give the Fund a score higher than 7.5 and tenants a score higher than a 7 in our client- and tenant satisfaction surveys.
Bouwinvest does its utmost to optimise long-term alliances with all our stakeholders. We have methods and means in place to understand, meet and respond to our stakeholders needs and to engage with the issues that our stakeholders find important. In addition to this, we take an active approach to raising environmental, social and governance awareness throughout the real estate industry, partly through membership of various real estate sector organisations, such as the Association of Institutional Property Investors in the Netherlands (IVBN) and the Dutch Green Building Council.
To enhance health and safety on construction sites, our objective is to have 75% of our construction sites registered under Considerate Constructors Scheme (‘Bewuste Bouwer’) in 2021. Moreover, our goal is to start with green clauses in rental contracts to enable collaboration with tenants on the environmental performance of our assets.
Being a responsible organisation
We believe that integrity, honesty and corporate responsibility are essential to ensuring we do our job properly and will, in turn, enable us to optimise returns for our clients. We are committed to upholding the highest ethical standards and compliance stewardship in all our business dealings and we avoid conflicting interests. To ensure accountability and transparency, we set targets, based on international sustainability standards, which allow us to monitor our progress.