Sustainability Report 2019


Management Approach

The topics of climate and environmental protection are becoming much more important – and not just in the eyes of the public. In Germany, the federal government responded to this by implementing a climate action package in late 2019 designed to allow the country to meet the objectives set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The package creates a statutory basis for sector-specific climate targets and carbon pricing from 2021 onwards for the very first time. As far as the buildings sector is concerned, this means slashing greenhouse gas emissions in Germany by around 40% from 118 million tons in 2018 to 70 million tons in 2030. Vonovia intends to live up to its responsibility in this area and supports these climate protection targets. The long-term aim is to achieve virtually climate-neutral buildings by 2050. At the same time, however, economic viability, reliable supply and financial acceptance by tenants have to be taken into account.

We are aware that the landlord can only influence energy and resource consumption in the operation of residential buildings to a limited extent. After all, it is up to tenants 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 and equip them so that they meet the latest climate protection standards. We consider energy-efficient building refurbishment to be one of the biggest levers we have at our disposal.

Within this context, the topic of biodiversity is also becoming increasingly important – be it with regard to species protection, adjusting to the implications of climate change or regarding the responsible use of natural resources. This is another area in which Vonovia is actively committed to creating an ecologically valuable residential environment.

What we achieved in 2019

  • Modernization rate of 3.7% and carbon savings of around 16,000 t achieved through modernization and the replacement of heating systems
  • “Energiesprong” pilot project launched for climate-friendly series modernization
  • 870 new apartments completed for the portfolio in Germany
  • Over 20% of all development projects completed in 2019 awarded sustainability certificates (e.g., DGNB Gold)
  • 84 new photovoltaic (PV) systems erected, a total of 289 in operation and generating around 10,000 MWh of solar power
  • Corporate headquarters in Bochum switched over to green electricity supply
  • Cooperation with the Fraunhofer Society launched for energy sector coupling in the neighborhood
  • Cooperation with NABU to launch pilot projects involving wildflower meadows and insect habitats/the planting of trees implemented

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 connection with conversions and new construction
  • Environmental protection in the portfolio
  • Company environmental protection
  • Impact of transport and logistics

Energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions: The options available to date already provide considerable scope for reducing energy consumption and the greenhouse gas emissions that buildings are responsible for. In order to reduce emissions, exciting and innovative technical solutions are ready to be implemented as soon as they are commercially viable. Reducing the third and final lot of emissions, on the other hand, will require considerable technological leaps which have yet to be made. Vonovia works with various partners from the worlds of business, civil society and academia on all of these three levels to achieve the objective of a climate-neutral building stock.

Environmental protection in connection with conversions and new construction: 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. Our new construction activities give us the opportunity to think holistically about environmental and climate protection issues from the very start of the planning process. We are paying increasing attention to the implementation of high energy efficiency classes and KfW standards, the planning of alternative mobility concepts, and the use of sustainable building materials and comprehensive waste management solutions on our construction sites.

Environmental protection in the portfolio: We also never lose sight of other aspects of building operation, such as the residential environment. We address other possible negative effects on the environment through measures in areas such as waste management and prevention, water management, recycling waste, green waste and recyclable materials, or by using regional products – for example, certified wood from local stock. We take measures to promote biodiversity and to protect insects, such as the planting of wildflower meadows.

Company environmental protection and transport and logistics: 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. The main factors in ensuring we keep these impacts low are general improvements in resource efficiency and targeted reductions in energy and water consumption. The area where we can have the greatest influence is our vehicle fleet, which is responsible for three-quarters of the emissions from our business operations. We manage this through continual process optimization and by considering how we can reduce damaging environmental effects. We take care to ensure that new office buildings are environmentally friendly, e.g., by using green electricity to operate them or obtaining sustainability certifications.

These are all things that we do not do alone (see chapter Open Dialogue With Society). We perform many of the activities along our entire value chain in partnership with others, especially in cases involving research projects, but also in projects to promote biodiversity with the German Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) and on climate issues as part of the Initiative Wohnen.2050 housing initiative. We are involved in associations such as the DENEFF energy efficiency initiative and organize our own climate conferences with the German Energy Agency (dena) and the Fraunhofer Society. We involve tenants in measures relating to the design of the residential environment, e.g., by organizing workshops. We also discuss and shape these issues as part of our dialogue with our shareholders.

In the following chapters, we will cover these topics in detail and explain their relevance to Vonovia. The relevant challenges, opportunities and risks, and the objectives, measures and indicators are outlined for each topic.

The Management Board is responsible for environmental and climate protection issues, which are implemented by the specialist departments. It takes ecological effects into account when making decisions that are relevant to the company. Controlling is responsible for the company’s risk management. This includes all risks, i.e., also the transitory and physical risks associated with climate change.

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