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 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. 100 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
To keep the Fund highly sustainable we will continue to improve the Fund’s sustainability performance and obtain the highest GRESB rating (5-star) in the coming years. The fund currently has a GRESB 4-star rating and recorded a strong improvement in its score in the 2019 GRESB assessment. To improve this score further and achieve a 5-star rating, 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 and health & safety on construction sites. 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% BREEAM-NL in-use certified shopping centres and have 50% certified assets with BREEAM-NL in-use GOOD or better at management level by the end of 2021. 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, which includes installing solar panels on our assets. Our goal is that 95% of the Fund’s portfolio has an energy label A or better (energy index<1.2) by end 2021 and improve our environmental impact reduction from 2% in 2019 to 5% in 2021.
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.