Sustainability Management at Vonovia
Our Understanding of Sustainability
We have focused our attention on the long-term, stable economic development of our business. As a result, Vonovia’s business model aims to maintain the value and foster the long-term development of our real estate portfolio, as well as to keep our service promise to our customers. On this basis, we are achieving the targeted increase in value for our company and long-term growth.
Our business model is inextricably linked to social and ecological developments – be it demographic change, the ongoing trend towards urbanization, developments influenced by migration flows to Germany, or changes of a regulatory and social nature caused by climate change. But not all climatic or social developments are directly relevant to our business or can be directly influenced by us. As a result, our sustainability efforts focus on those areas that have an impact on Vonovia’s business model and on those areas that we can use our business model to influence (see Material Topics).
As a result of our business model, we believe that economic, ecological and social sustainability are closely interlinked and covered by regulatory frameworks, e. g., legislation. This is the framework within which Vonovia operates in order to generate added value for its core business, also in ecological and social areas.
Our Sustainability Approach
Our sustainability approach results directly from our business model, on the one hand, and also addresses developments that influence our business, or which we can influence, on the other.
A home is a basic human need: Good living standards, an environment in which we feel comfortable and intact neighborhoods are of crucial importance when it comes to determining whether we feel at home in an apartment in the long run. The object of our business, namely the renting of affordable and high-quality homes, meets this basic need.
Within this context, Vonovia implements extensive measures to maintain and develop its portfolio, for example (maintenance, modernization, construction activity). These efforts include, in particular, measures to improve the energy efficiency of our stock. This allows us to make a significant contribution to protecting our climate (see “Our Service Promise” chapter). At the same time, well-insulated apartments increase efficiency and simultaneously reduce ancillary expenses for our customers. Compliance with the regulatory requirements of environmental, energy and rental law is always a material component of our business processes.
For Vonovia, housing does not end at the front door: A nice, stable environment is part of a good residential atmosphere. Therefore, together with other social actors, we become involved beyond our buildings and set trends with cities, companies and city planners as well as with associations, initiatives and, last but not least, with our local customers, for the sustainable development of entire neighborhoods.
In order to keep the service promise we have made to our customers and provide them with good quality over the long term, we perform as many tasks as possible on our own – via well-trained and committed service employees, caretakers, craftsmen and gardeners.
Vonovia always adheres to the goal of complying with valid laws and provisions in its sustainability activities. In addition, numerous national and supranational norms and agreements serve as a guide for the structure and design of sustainability concepts.
As far as climate protection is concerned, the 2015 Paris Agreement – and the German federal government’s associated climate protection plan for 2050 – is particularly relevant to Vonovia. The long-term objective of this Agreement is to achieve virtual greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050, something which also covers buildings. As well as adhering to valid efficiency standards for new buildings, this also means being prepared to make significant investments in energy-efficient renovation work on existing properties. This is a responsibility that Vonovia has already been living up to for years now by aiming to clearly exceed the required nationwide renovation rate of at least 3% (see “Our Service Promise” chapter).
Establishment in the Company
At the highest level, the chief executive officer of Vonovia SE is responsible for sustainability. The Audit Committee in particular handles sustainability on behalf of the Supervisory Board. The operational processing of sustainability-related issues is performed via the staff positions and line functions of Vonovia SE. Those who share responsibility ensure that the agreed measures are implemented in the course of day-to-day business.
In addition, Vonovia established a new function, that of sustainability specialist, in 2017 in order to ensure that sustainability issues can be tackled in a more structured, cross-departmental manner and to expand our dialog with stakeholders. General topics such as sustainability reporting, the expansion of the key figures used, adjustments to relevant guidelines or the development of interfaces with relevant company processes can be handled there on a centralized basis.
For us, sustainability is also about striking a balance between the interests of Vonovia’s various stakeholders in the long term. We are engaged in a regular and mutual exchange with our stakeholders in order to achieve this and intend to step up this exchange further over the next few years. In particular, they include customers (tenants), employees, investors and analysts as well as policymakers at the municipal, state and federal levels. Additional interest groups are tenants’ associations, suppliers and service providers, the media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The interaction results from day-to-day issues that link us to the respective stakeholders. The stakeholder groups have different interests with regard to our company and exert influence on our company (see Sustainability Report 2016 chapter Dialogue with Stakeholders).
The interests and wishes that stakeholders call to our attention are manifold. However, our business approach largely ensures that all our stakeholders benefit from it since it combines essential economic, social and environmental expectations.