Sustainability Report 2019


Environmental Protection in the Portfolio

Management Approach

Vonovia influences the local climate and the ecological environment of the buildings through the construction of new apartments and the rental of its own 356,000 or so residential units. We aim to minimize this influence, or turn it into a positive one – for the benefit of the environment and in the interests of our tenants’ well-being. A housing company such as Vonovia can act as a role model and source of impetus in matters relating to climate and environmental protection. The main aim in this context is to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and develop the residential environment so as to make it climate and environmentally friendly. This is an area in which we believe there is particular scope for greater sustainability due to the size of our portfolio and the green spaces surrounding our properties.

Within this large framework, the implementation of ecological measures alongside our rental and maintenance activities and fulfillment of our duty to comply with public safety provisions in order to protect people and the environment pose a considerable challenge for us. The task we have to rise to involves striking a balance and ensuring environmental design that is both ecologically valuable and commercially viable at the same time, and carefully selecting the appropriate measures. We have to remember that buildings and their surroundings have to be prepared for changes in climatic conditions, because the implications of climate change, such as longer periods of warm weather and a higher incidence of downpours and storms, will become visible in the future. Although Vonovia’s portfolio is not affected too much by these developments in relative terms, we are preparing for the possible consequences and aim to help counteract these trends. To this end, we are continuing to work on measures that help mitigate extreme weather conditions at microclimatic level or, for example, have the capacity to cool urban heat islands.

Insects, too, play an essential role in ensuring an ecological balance, although biodiversity is already on the decline today due to increasing impervious surface coverage. We can use the way we design green spaces and areas earmarked for practical purposes to promote its development and contribute to greater biodiversity in our cities.

The management of our portfolio also includes the management of water and waste. Our aim is always to implement all of the applicable provisions and fulfill all of our obligations in full. We design the corresponding measures in such a way as to keep their impact on people and the environment to a minimum.

Establishment in the Organization 103-2

Lead responsibility for the maintenance and design of the green spaces lies with the residential environment organization and the approximately 800 employees who are responsible for, and implement, gardening and landscaping projects. These projects have been implemented by our own employees since 2016.

Public safety obligations and compliance with them are managed by our central technology department, while the corresponding communication measures are the responsibility of Corporate Communications.


Cooperation With NABU

At the end of 2019, Vonovia agreed a cooperation partnership with the German Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) with the aim of upgrading the design of the residential environment in our neighborhoods by turning green spaces into urban living spaces and refuges for animal, plant and fungus species and at the same time promoting nature-friendly gardening. This makes Vonovia the first residential real estate company in Germany to take this step. The size of our company and the associated reach mean that the potential for cooperation is considerable. The partnership is limited to North Rhine-Westphalia for now.

The project is structured on two levels:

1. Practical implementation in the pilot neighborhood in Bochum-Weitmar (around 1,200 apartments)

  • Status assessment and concept development by NABU experts and development of recommendations
  • Development and implementation of a new design approach for open spaces, insect habitats and nesting sites
  • Development and implementation of measures to promote biodiversity on buildings and building greenery, e.g., installation of swift nesting boxes and habitats for bats
  • Evaluation of strategies for the efficient use of space in neighborhoods
  • Eco-educational support for the project
    • Involving and informing tenants, e.g., about tenant campaigns and neighborhood tours relating to the project and measures to promote biodiversity
    • Creation of semi-natural gardens as meeting places in the neighborhood
    • Creation of a social neighborhood designed in harmony with nature for the benefit of residents and local institutions alike, e.g., schools
  • Planting of wildflower meadows using regional seeds

2. Scaling of ecological products

  • Advice from NABU experts on the development of standardized products
  • The aim is to achieve the documentation and transferability of quality characteristics, e.g., of insect habitats, seed mixtures, nesting aids, etc., and then to incorporate them into a Vonovia-wide product manual for nationwide product scaling
  • Joint project to create species-appropriate insect habitats on the site of Vonovia properties

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