Vonovia is the largest real estate owner in Germany. The responsibility that we have toward the environment is therefore considerable.
Even if the consequences of climate change and environmental damage are not obvious from our buildings and open spaces, the signs of changes to come are mounting – for example, longer warm periods, heavier rainfalls and increasing air pollution in cities.
We want to provide our customers with comfortable, up-to-date and environmentally friendly homes – while also guaranteeing affordable rents. It is therefore very important to us to combine climate protection with fair rents, because climate protection must not become a question of social status.
Vonovia has aligned with the government’s aim of making buildings climate-neutral in the long term and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are aware, of course, that the landlord can only influence energy and resource consumption in the operation of residential buildings to a limited extent – unlike in other property management building types, such as commercial properties and offices. It is ultimately the tenants’ decision to decide how they consume electricity, water and heat. Nevertheless, we have a number of measures that we can implement to improve buildings from an energy perspective. Currently, the main approaches include energy-efficient building refurbishment, fitting modern boilers, and using and generating renewable energy, for instance, through decentralized energy provision offers and through our own energy sales. The size of our portfolio shows that this is the biggest lever we have for making an active contribution to climate protection (see chapter Energy Efficiency and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions).
And we also look at other aspects of building operation. We address other possible negative effects on the environment through measures in areas such as waste management and prevention, recycling waste, green waste and recyclable materials, or by paying attention to environmental criteria in purchasing materials and the use of regional products – for example wood from local stock (see chapter Environmental Protection in the Portfolio.). The purchasing strength of our Group structure helps us to take ecological measures in an economical way.
Operating buildings is not the only material factor in the emission of greenhouse gases and impacts on the environment – new construction and dismantling, too, have an effect on the climate and environment through the materials that are used and the construction and recycling process. We therefore consistently adhere to the requirements of the 2016 German Energy Saving Ordinance (Energieeinsparverordnung EnEV) for new constructions. We minimize detrimental environmental impacts on our construction sites by dealing with hazardous waste correctly and specifically using environmentally friendly materials (see chapter Environmental Protection in Connection with Conversions and New Construction).
Our normal operations, too, require us to consume resources and energy, and release emissions. We therefore focus on keeping the negative environmental impacts of our internal processes as low as possible (see chapter Company Environmental Protection). The main factors in ensuring we keep these impacts low are general improvements in resource efficiency and targeted reductions, for instance, in energy and water consumption. The area where we can have the greatest influence is our fleet, which we manage through continual process optimization and by considering how we can reduce damaging environmental effects (see chapter Impact of Transport and Logistics).
We have identified five material environmental topics and have integrated these into our materiality matrix:
- Energy Efficiency and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Environmental Protection in the Portfolio
- Environmental Protection in Connection with Conversions and New Construction
- Company Environmental Protection
- Impact of Transport and Logistics
In the following chapter, we will cover these topics in detail and explain their relevance for Vonovia. The relevant challenges, opportunities and risks, and the objectives, measures and indicators are outlined for each topic.