Environmental Protection in Connection with Conversions and New Construction

Objectives, Measures and Indicators

Environmentally Friendly Construction

In addition to BUWOG’s development projects, densification and vertical expansions are the two most significant measures employed by Vonovia in new construction. We deploy prefabricated modules in wood hybrid, steel skeleton and precast concrete construction. We plan to construct more than 1,000 new apartments throughout Germany in 2019. One of the projects will be our first wood hybrid building in the district of Knorr in Frankfurt. We are also planning to build two carbon dioxide-free and glue-free solid wood houses with inner cores for stairs, lifts and utilities supply (point houses) in Kornwestheim near Stuttgart. An ecological balance sheet on the construction will be created by an external service provider that serves as proof that the building is carbon neutral. A new green building will be constructed in Bochum that will generate all of its energy from a PV plant.

As far as energy efficiency is concerned, the Energy Saving Ordinance (Energieeinsparverordnung [EnEV 2016]) is the decisive factor for our new construction projects. With intelligent construction methods we can come in under the base standards stipulated by EnEV by up to 10% in some cases – for example, through timber panel construction, core insulation or the use of solar thermal and PV plants. We generally use modular and prefabricated construction methods which allow us to place high-volume factory preproduction orders. This means we are saving resources and energy right from the production stage.

We apply for funding from the KfW 153 subsidy program for new constructions that fulfil the energy requirements of the KfW efficient house standards. The KfW 153 new construction project in Münster was recently completed. The new KfW “Katzenbruchstraße” construction project in Essen is currently in the preparation stage. Further new constructions are planned in Dortmund, Cologne, Berlin and Oberursel.

Waste Management and Recycling

One of the most important environmental issues on our construction sites is waste management. This is due to the fact that substances hazardous to people and the environment may be released and influence resource consumption. Our internal environmental health and safety provisions (EHS) already deal with a number of issues related to environmental protection.

Our construction work – both new construction and modernizations – entail working with polluting materials, such as asbestos, which we must ensure are disposed of correctly. This task is entrusted to subcontractors that we commission, from whom we require full documentation regarding the amounts disposed of and the waste fractions, along with proof of disposal and landfill measures taken, amongst other things.

Our service technicians learn how to correctly dispose of the materials they use at the start of their training. Following initial training, they attend regular training sessions with experts and managers on the proper separation and correct disposal of various materials and construction materials.

A certified laboratory analyzes all construction components and materials for potential pollutants before they are used. We coordinate waste disposal schemes with the responsible firms and the authorities as necessary. Qualified staff from the companies commissioned and health and safety officers monitor the work performed on the construction sites.

In 2018, the technical service carried out energy-efficiency modernizations on 250 apartments in the Bremen district of Wohlers Eichen. In cooperation with plastic recycling companies, Vonovia collected and recycled the waste material from 800 windows that were replaced as part of the modernization work. This was later reused to make window profiles. Across the country, we have recycled more than 32,000 tons of PVC granulate from old windows in this way. We will continue the collaboration in 2019 to support this development process. 306-2

Procuring Environmentally Friendly Materials

Our business activities require us to use a wide range of materials – from plumbing, painting and electrical consumer equipment to flooring, tiles and thermal insulation systems to tools, work clothing, cars and office equipment. Our technical operation managers and procurement department ensure that we adhere to common German and European standards and regulations. We purchase our materials almost exclusively from production plants within the European Union. We source trees and plants for our green spaces from regional suppliers. We also intend to integrate compliance with European biodiversity legislation into our processes and guidelines. 102-9, 204-1

We use sustainability criteria, for example the environmental friendliness of raw materials and production processes and their energy footprint, as a foundation when assembling and standardizing our range. We actively communicate this information to our suppliers and expect them to comply with the same criteria. 308-2

In 2018, we successfully tested a chlorine-free substance for eliminating mold, for example. This substance is safer for our employees and customers than the substances traditionally used and we will introduce it throughout the Group in 2019. We also plan to roll out the share of mineral fiber in 2019 to replace polystyrene for building insulation, due to be phased out in 2020. We monitor our insulation suppliers to ensure that insulation waste is optimally disposed of – there have been no negative incidents so far.

We reviewed our Business Partner Code in 2018 and made it mandatory for all suppliers. The Code also stipulates adherence to environmental protection criteria and traceability in relation to material origin for our suppliers. We are thus able to verify that:

  • Our suppliers operate a secure business that minimizes environmental damage and adheres to applicable environmental protection laws.
  • Materials and goods supplied to Vonovia come from traceable sources, and are not procured or manufactured through illegal or unethical means. 308-2

These obligations are not (yet) audited, but the creation of a concept for systemic monitoring is planned for the year 2019. 308-1

We also work closely with our suppliers on a number of projects. We exchange information directly, for example, regarding product characteristics and sometimes even develop complete products together. This not only enables us to improve quality, but also increases transparency in our supply chain.

We expect the companies that we commission to work with materials that do not harm the environment (mineral plaster, etc.). We specifically use mineral insulation materials with our steel module buildings, for instance. We only use FSC-certified timber for sandboxes and benches.