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29. August 2012     Print Print 

Green strategies instead of individual green buildings

European real estate investors are seeking to put their sustainability activities on a broader footing. Today’s “green” strategies address the entire real estate portfolio and also apply at company level. The search for improved environmental performance will require greater involvement of building users and service providers. That is the conclusion of the latest sustainability study commissioned by Union Investment and involving a representative sample of 172 property investors in Germany, France and the UK.

Some 34 per cent of the real estate investors surveyed are already presenting building metrics such as final energy consumption, lifecycle costs and waste volume at portfolio level. In the last survey, conducted six months ago, the figure was just 25 per cent. Similarly, 34 per cent of investors have incorporated sustainability into their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy. A total of 31 per cent base their sustainability activities on a sustainable product strategy for the overall portfolio. A specific product or individual “green building” was at the heart of the sustainability strategy for just 29 per cent of those polled. “Sustainability is increasingly being perceived within the real estate sector as a holistic concept,” says Dr. Reinhard Kutscher, Chairman of the Management Board, Union Investment Real Estate GmbH.

Investors believe that “maintenance carried out according to sustainable criteria” in particular has gained in importance among the instruments used to improved the environmental performance of the wider portfolio. Some 62 per cent believe that this instrument has become increasingly important. A total of 39 per cent of respondents believe that “choosing service providers on the basis of sustainability criteria” has become significantly more important. “Green” leases and “sustainable tenant fit-out guidelines” have each become more relevant for 35 per cent. One striking factor is that real estate investors in France and the UK are consistently more active in terms of sustainable property investment than their German counterparts at the moment. In particular, “green leases” have become considerably more important in France.

Environmental performance depends on the user
Some 65 per cent of the property professionals surveyed believe that user behaviour has a significant impact on a building’s environmental performance. However, the figure is significantly lower in Germany, at 52 per cent, compared with 72 per cent in France and 77 per cent in the UK. Meanwhile, the desire to be able to assess and compare “green” portfolios continues to rise among real estate investors, with 62 per cent of the investors surveyed stressing that transparency was impossible without benchmarking. This is confirmed by another of the survey’s findings: Fewer than 20 per cent of investors believe there are clear evaluation criteria for sustainable buildings in their respective country, a drop compared to last year’s survey. Having said that, investors themselves are making a respectable contribution to achieving the desired transparency, with a total of 36 per cent of the real estate companies surveyed producing sustainability reports. British investors are leading the way here, with 49 per cent compiling such reports.