The three main companies of BUWOG (BUWOG Group GmbH, BUWOG Bauträger GmbH and BUWOG Immobilien Treuhand GmbH) have been wholly owned subsidiaries of Vonovia SE since November 2018. While BUWOG Bauträger GmbH focuses on the development business in Germany and BUWOG Immobilien Treuhand GmbH handles the management of apartments for third parties in northern Germany, BUWOG Group GmbH manages the entire value chain of the residential sector in Austria with the business areas of asset management, property sales and property development. The existing real estate portfolio in Austria encompasses approximately 21,300 portfolio units. The development pipeline includes about 5,000 residential units in Vienna and about 7,000 residential units in Germany. The BUWOG brand stands for a high level of customer satisfaction in the real estate development business. As a result, approximately 11,000 new apartments are planned in Austria and Germany in the next five to six years. Of these, about 5,000 units are intended for rental by the company. The company is thus making an important contribution to easing the shortage of apartments (see AR 2018, chapter Corporate Structure).
In terms of sustainability performance, we consider employees and climate and environmental protection in the portfolio to be topics of particular relevance and cover both in greater detail below.
Climate and Environmental Protection in Our Development Activities
The planning and development of new residential properties takes place within a social framework in which climate and environmental protection are playing an increasingly important role. Of particular significance are the issues of:
- energy supply and consumption,
- the use of environmentally friendly materials,
- mobility, and
- residential environment and neighborhood solutions.
Energy supply, consumption and energy-efficient building technology are the main issues in development. Various pilot and research projects, including energy supplied from renewable energy sources and other energy-related innovations, are implemented in new constructions. One example of this is the new construction project “52 Grad Nord” in the Grünau district of Berlin with its own district heat supply for the neighborhood. This puts the primary energy factor at zero. District heat is primarily generated by biomethane gas from non-fossil sources using a cogeneration unit specifically set up for this purpose. The facade of the CHP unit has also been planted with vegetation. In addition to a total of approximately 1,000 residential units, neighboring buildings are also set to be supplied in future.
We are also investing in the use of sustainable materials in the new construction project in Berlin by using wood-hybrid construction and other methods. The facades and roofs of several buildings are made of prefabricated wood-wall elements, while supporting building elements, such as floor slabs, stairs and partition walls are made of concrete. Other materials, such as insulation, wood and paints, are selected with sustainability criteria in mind and should have the corresponding certification.
In order to handle valuable raw materials that we come across when dismantling old buildings in a sustainable manner, BUWOG launched a large-scale project in Vienna in 2018 for recycling and reusing entire construction elements. In collaboration with social enterprises and recycling businesses, we have organized dismantling operations in such a way that it is possible to separate a considerable amount of miscellaneous materials such as aluminum, copper, marble, etc., and return them to the materials cycle for reuse. During the dismantling of real estate in Vienna that formerly belonged to Coca Cola, we were also able to prevent around 450 tons of waste and recycle some of the materials, such as the roofing panels.
Designing ecological leisure spaces is a primary concern in all of BUWOG’s new construction projects. Numerous buildings feature extensive green spaces that serve as natural habitats for flora and fauna at ground level, on roofs or on facades. In addition to the optical effects, these green spaces also offer a practical added value, for example, by slowing the flow of rainwater into the partially overburdened municipal sewage system and by making a considerable contribution to the microclimate, especially by preventing heat building up in densely populated urban areas. The new neighborhood “Biotope City” in Vienna will be a pioneering example of urban design incorporating vegetation.
Intelligent mobility solutions, too, will become increasingly important in urban areas and play an increasingly larger part in our urban development projects. We include e-mobility, bicycle concepts and public transport in our new construction projects from an early stage and take future needs for electric charging stations and empty cable tunnels for retrofitting into consideration in order to avoid higher costs later and to actively contribute to ecological transport developments.
We are currently aiming to obtain building certification, such as the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) gold standard or the Austrian Sustainable Building Council gold standard, for various development projects in Germany and Austria. This certification helps us to show investors, owners, tenants and the wider public to what extent we consider sustainability aspects in the planning, construction and operation of our buildings.
Certified Energy Management System
BUWOG is a long-term partner of the ambitious “klimaaktiv pakt2020” climate protection initiative launched by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism. It has had an ISO 50001-certified energy management system in place in Austria since 2013/14, which features both established processes and a written energy policy. This tool for the professional management of energy-related issues was expanded to cover the area of development in Germany in 2018. This means management of energy issues in the entire new construction portfolio of the BUWOG companies and the portfolio management of BUWOG Group GmbH in Austria is conducted within a certified energy management system.
Responsibility, commitment, flexibility and professionalism are the qualities of the BUWOG team. In order to ensure that this does not change, we are focusing on employees’ long-term health, safety, performance and motivation.
We have been committed to promoting family life for years now, the aim being to allow our employees to strike a balance between family and work commitments by offering a range of tools designed to meet their specific needs. This is a matter that is particularly important to BUWOG Group GmbH in Austria. As a result, our subsidiary has been participating in the “berufundfamilie” (work and family) audit conducted by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Families and Youth since 2017. This is a voluntary government seal of quality that aims to achieve improvements in the awareness of family issues. The seal is awarded as part of a structured audit process. The objective is also to use the audit to achieve positive commercial effects on employer appeal, employee loyalty, motivation and identification, and to minimize staff turnover and absences.
In addition to a company physician, an occupational psychologist and a safety officer, our health promotion within the company also includes a health day, held roughly twice a year, where we inform our employees about topics such as exercise, ergonomics, nutrition and psychology. Our employees can also take a medical exam or receive biofeedback. Workshops on a diverse range of topics, such as reducing stress, conflict management and relaxation, were also offered in cooperation with the occupational psychologists.
We conduct annual appraisals with the aim developing our employees’ skills and promoting their personal development. Targets are formulated and development and training requests are discussed along with more general development options. The range of individual measures offered in the form of individual training or group training includes professional courses covering topics such as non-profit housing law and tenancy law, and personal development seminars based on the Process Communication Model®. In the reporting year, the focus of our management training was on measures to support the change process for the integration with Vonovia SE. The efforts we made in the past to train employees to take on management positions have paid off once again. We were able to fill virtually all new team and department head positions internally.
Find out more at www.buwog.at/en/company/sustainability