Energy Efficiency and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The operation of buildings is responsible for around 30% of Germany’s total carbon emissions, which is why the German government is aiming to achieve a climate-neutral building stock by 2050. The idea is for the building sector to reduce carbon emissions by around 40% in the period from 2020 to 2030. By then, the entire building sector in Germany will be allowed to emit no more than 70 million tons of CO2. The government’s climate action package is accompanied by the introduction of a CO2 price starting at € 25/ton in 2021 before gradually rising in the years that follow. The price will be reassessed in the middle of the decade. Furthermore, from 2026 onwards, the installation of oil-fired heating systems will no longer be permitted, but subsidies for energy-efficient building refurbishment will be increased. With its Taxonomy Regulation, the European Union (EU) is also reinforcing the approach of promoting energy-efficient refurbishment as the most important lever in the building sector.
A long road lies ahead in the quest to achieve a climate-neutral building stock. What is clear, however, is that reducing energy consumption in buildings, i.e., boosting energy efficiency, and substituting conventional energy sources for renewable energies are the decisive levers. Since 2015, Vonovia has already saved approx. 96,000 tons of CO2 (> 9%), an annual CO2 reduction of as much as 2–3%.
Energy-efficient building refurbishment and the replacement of inefficient heating systems remain the biggest levers we have at our disposal for reducing energy consumption – and, as a result, greenhouse gases – for our company. This is why Vonovia is sticking to the target set in the 2017 Annual Report of renovating at least 3% of its own portfolio every year to bring it into line with the latest energy standards. The main focus of the energy-efficient modernization measures is on heat-insulating facades, basement ceilings and attics, and replacing windows. The replacement of heating boilers – and, going forward, also the use of hybrid heating systems – will also allow us to achieve a marked reduction in the consumption of resources. We pursue a needs-based approach to these measures and make sure that the degree of modernization that we opt for is the best option for the individual building concerned. Partial modernization, i.e., the decision to only perform certain modernization measures, is often a better way of achieving an efficient cost/benefit ratio than a full modernization project. Public subsidy programs are used for many of our energy-efficient modernization projects in order to ensure that the modernization work remains affordable for our tenants. Due to the planned rent freeze, modernization projects in Berlin that were planned for 2019 have been postponed, reducing our originally planned refurbishment rate from 4.0% to 3.7%. This means that Vonovia’s modernization rate is still well above the German national average of around 1%, which shows that we are on the right track. Political incentives and subsidy systems are, however, still needed to make energy-efficient refurbishment commercially viable and affordable for tenants.
The second big lever for improving our environmental footprint is the expansion of decentralized energy supplies using renewable energies, a key component of the energy revolution in Germany. Our connected neighborhoods – particularly in urban conurbations – and the expanse of roof surface provides us with interesting opportunities for using and expanding renewable energies in our real estate portfolio. With this in mind, we had already conducted a solar cadastre analysis in 2018, discovering considerable potential for solar energy on around 5,000 roofs in our portfolio. Our “1,000 roofs” program was rolled out in the summer of 2019, the aim being to equip at least 1,000 roofs with photovoltaic facilities over the next few years. The “1,000 roofs” program will allow Vonovia to produce around 10,000,000 kWh of solar power annually and feed it into the public grid. In the medium to long term, Vonovia is seeking to decentralize the energy supply to its own neighborhoods using tenant electricity concepts. Our aim is to maximize the proportion of energy we produce ourselves for the benefit of our customers and the environment and also to use this energy for our housing-related services, such as e-mobility.
Vonovia is offering its customers the opportunity to purchase electricity from renewable energy sources via its own energy distribution company. This offer is aimed primarily at new customers when they sign a lease agreement. By supplying certified green electricity, we are expanding the options available to us for promoting climate protection and helping our customers to avoid greenhouse gas emissions.
Our modernization and energy supply activities are important levers for making our existing buildings – in addition to new energy-efficient buildings – fit for the future. These measures will not, however, be enough, as focusing on individual buildings does not take into account the potential offered by the neighborhood. This makes innovation and the exploration of new technical possibilities for groups of buildings all the more important. Our neighboring housing stocks allow us to test a large number of technologies in practice and to research how they can best be used in combination with each other. We want to use the experience gleaned from this process to develop blueprints for concepts allowing the greatest possible degree of scaling.
Establishment in the Organization 103-2
The portfolio and tenant management department is responsible for planning and managing planned modernization measures in the portfolio. Planned new constructions are partly organized by BUWOG/our new constructions department and partly through the regions, and the portfolio and tenant management department provides support functions.
The product management department is responsible for energy supply issues. Energy sales, through which our customers can sign green electricity contracts directly with Vonovia, take place via the company’s own Vonovia Energie Service GmbH.
Innovation research is also the responsibility of the product management department. A separate area of this department dealing with neighborhood systems forms the interface with research projects within the company.