About This Report
Content and Structure of the Report
This is our fifth sustainability report, in which we are once again broadening our reporting further and, for the first time, also including Vonovia SE’s fully consolidated subsidiaries – the BUWOG companies in Germany and Austria, and Victoria Park in Sweden. In the reporting period, we focused on collecting and reporting differentiated key figures for the Germany, Austria and Sweden regions. This is highlighted in the key figures section of this report. In the editorial section of the report, we focus on Vonovia SE’s activities in Germany, and report on the performance of the BUWOG companies and Victoria Park in separate chapters. 102-45, 102-46
The report presents our company’s performance based on financial and non-financial information. The aim of this reporting is to create transparency and comparability for sustainability activities with other companies on the market.
The thematic focus is on the areas of sustainable corporate governance, customers and society, the environment and employees. The report is structured according to our sustainability activities, which reflect the material economic, social and ecological aspects of Vonovia SE.
This report was prepared in accordance with the core option of the GRI standards (2016 version), supplemented with selected voluntary sector-specific disclosures for “Construction and Real Estate.” We have informed GRI of the application of the GRI standards and the publication of this report. 102-54
Vonovia’s Sustainability Report is published on an annual basis. This reporting period relates to the 2019 fiscal year (January 1 to December 31, 2019), meaning that it picks up exactly where the 2018 Sustainability Report, which was published in April 2018, left off. 102-50, 102-51, 102-52
In addition, as a capital market-oriented company, Vonovia SE is obliged by the CSR Directive Implementation Act to disclose information pursuant to Sections 289 a–e HGB and 315 b–c HGB (combined non-financial declaration). The necessary reporting requirements were implemented in the management report, which forms part of the annual report, published March 7, 2019.
In order to base our report on the needs of our stakeholders, we identified our relevant stakeholders as part of the 2015 Sustainability Report and analyzed key topics for the sustainability of our business activities.
In line with the GRI guidelines, the content of the report was selected based on the criterion of materiality.
In early 2017, we used a structured stakeholder survey and expert interviews to perform a materiality analysis in order to validate these topics. The results of this process have been incorporated into this report. This means that our Sustainability Report covers all topics that either reflect areas in which Vonovia has a major economic, social or ecological impact, or could have a significant impact on our stakeholders. We plan to conduct a new materiality analysis for 2020 to take account of the changes in the overall conditions. 102-46
In addition, we are following the EPRA Best Practice Recommendations on Sustainability Reporting (sBPR) (third version from 2017). The collection and calculation of environmental key figures was headed by the Controlling department and supported by Facility Management, Portfolio Management, Portfolio Controlling, Technical Service, Vonovia Energie- und Service GmbH, Customer Service, Data Management, Development/New Construction, Business Development, and the Procurement department. The key figures for employees were collected and consolidated by the HR department. The central Procurement department prepared the statements relating to supplier management (procurement).
An independent third party has not conducted an external review of the report’s content. The sustainability report was, however, audited by the Internal Audit department. We are working constantly on improving the quality of the data collection processes. 102-56
Refining the Environmental Key Figures
In 2019, our fifth reporting year, we continued with the comprehensive restructuring measures that we had embarked upon in the previous year. Within this context, the “Environmental Controlling” team, which was established last year, was faced with the challenge of driving ahead with measures to expand the scope of reporting in addition to the quality improvements achieved in recent years regarding both content definition and data management. This included, in particular, recording various key figures for the New Construction/Development area, which is included in the Sustainability Report for the first time, and collecting information on the key figures to date for BUWOG and Victoria Park, which were acquired in 2018. With regard to the latter, a materiality analysis was performed to determine those parts of the report for which data should be collected for the new companies and those areas on which data will only be included in subsequent years due to their low relevance. 102-46
New calculation methods were only applied with regard to waste volumes, meaning that the previous year’s results were restated. 102-48
Organizational Boundaries/Scope of Consolidation
The key figures published focus on Vonovia SE’s activities in Germany, as well as on the sites in Germany, Austria and Sweden that were acquired in 2018. This basic definition of the scope of sustainability reporting on the consolidated companies will be reviewed for the next reporting cycle and expanded if necessary. 102-45
The construction of new apartments is a new business area for Vonovia. Environmental impacts and construction emissions are caused by, e.g., the energy consumed on the building site, the manufacture of building materials and transport. In this year’s Sustainability Report, an initial approach was launched to ensure the uniform recording of environmental key figures relating to construction activities within the Group. The approach involved including projects that had been granted planning permission by October 31, 2019, but had not been completed by December 31, 2019. This restriction is intended to ensure that the report only includes projects for which actual implementation can no longer be fundamentally called into question, but which were also not yet sold or put into operation during the reporting period, as this would mean that they would be taken into account either outside the company or within the portfolio. New construction activity is a field that Vonovia will be focusing on in the future as it has become more relevant with the integration of the BUWOG companies. We will thus examine to what extent environmental key figures can be expanded and CO2e emissions that relate to new construction activity can also be reported.
The key figures published in relation to the portfolio focus on Vonovia SE’s activities in Germany, as well as on the sites in Germany, Austria and Sweden that were acquired in 2018. This means the BUWOG companies’ portfolio in Germany and Austria and the activities of Victoria Park AB are included in the sustainability reporting. Accordingly, the environmental key figures for 2019 apply to 359,686 residential and commercial units, with the Austria region comprising 23,039 rented units and the Sweden region comprising 17,357. In line with the approach taken for the companies that were acquired in 2018, Hembla AB in Sweden, which was acquired in 2019, is currently not included. In line with this approach, the environmental key figures from 2018, which mainly relate to a specific time period, remain unchanged. For reasons of consistency, acquisitions in 2018 have not been included on a pro rata basis.
It is Vonovia’s objective to attain as complete a view as possible of the environmental impact of the Group, which is spread across a number of different locations. In addition to the company headquarters in Bochum and the large customer service centers in Duisburg and Dresden, there are a number of regional administration offices, caretakers’ offices, and offices and workshops used by the technical service and the residential neighborhood services. Some of these belong directly to the Vonovia portfolio; some relate to rented space. For the latter, Vonovia can only improve the environmental performance to a limited extent, or only in agreement with the landlord. For the 2019 reporting period, the corporate headquarters in Bochum and the fourteen other locations from the previous year, the BUWOG headquarters in Berlin and the two largest BUWOG offices in Vienna and Villach are included in the report. There is no office building in the Sweden region that meets the criterion of 500 m2 of office space.
The database was thus expanded in comparison with the previous year. Due to the large number of rented office spaces, recording the environmental key figures for all work locations involves a disproportionately high amount of effort. System boundaries are due to be gradually extended once again for the 2020 reporting period. 102-46
For the purposes of this report, the key personnel and procurement figures shown have also been extended for the first time to include Vonovia SE’s activities in Austria and Sweden. It was not possible to collect all of the key figures available for Germany, partly due to system-related factors. Any deviations in the definition of key figures have been indicated accordingly. 102-48
Due to portfolio changes from sales and purchases there may, in part, be considerable deviations from the previous year’s values. Like-for-like assessments and intensity figures are therefore more suitable when it comes to performance considerations. For the comparison between annual results we again used the data cleansing approach employed by EPRA. The changes in the portfolio were therefore considered as follows in the calculation of like-for-like key figures: Acquisitions after January 1, 2018, were excluded from the portfolio key figures for reporting years, while the portfolio key figures were adjusted for any residential units sold before the end of the 2019 reporting year. This corresponds to the reporting principles used by EPRA. It is also important to note that the acquisition of entire companies is also considered to constitute a portfolio change, meaning that the like-for-like data for 2018 and 2019 does not include any consumption by BUWOG or Victoria Park.
The scope of consolidation relevant for calculating carbon emissions was defined in coordination with the scope of consolidation for the other environmental key figures. We deliberately had our calculation of carbon emissions audited by an external third party to ensure that these sensitive calculations were conducted independently and in accordance with the highest quality standards.
The calculations of carbon emissions were based on the greenhouse gas protocol (GHG Protocol), the internationally recognized standard for calculating carbon emissions. Carbon emissions were calculated as CO2 equivalents (CO2e). Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) is a standardized unit to measure the relative contributions of various gases to the greenhouse gas effect.
Emissions that harm the climate are not only caused by carbon dioxide (CO2), although it is the most well-known. Other gases, such as methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N2O), are converted to CO2 equivalents using a conversion factor, which simplifies comparability in terms of detrimental effects on the climate. Only the carbon emissions from refurbishments were not calculated as CO2 equivalents.
The CO2e factors from the GEMIS database version 4.95 were applied to calculate the emissions. GEMIS (Global Emission Model for Integrated Systems) is an internationally recognized model for determining energy and material flows with an integrated database. The model calculates life cycles for all processes and scenarios, i.e., it takes into consideration all material steps from primary energy/raw material extraction to effective energy/material provision and also includes the auxiliary energy and cost of materials to produce energy plants and transport systems. The GEMIS data was selected because it is generally accepted, up to date and consistent.
The calculation of carbon emissions in the portfolio is conducted according to the “Financial Control Approach.” Emissions produced as a result of portfolio operations are disclosed under Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. This takes into consideration the actual financial control exercised over the portfolio that exists for the majority of the portfolio area or rental units (DE region 97%, AT region 89%, SE region 100%). For the rest of the portfolio, in which the company holds a minority interest, the 2019 CO2 results are reported under Scope 3.
CO2e factors from the GEMIS database version 4.95 were also applied for the majority of the emissions resulting from business operations. To calculate the market-based emissions from electricity, we used the electricity providers’ exact emissions and converted them to CO2e emissions. To calculate Scope 3 emissions from rail business travel, we used the emissions factors of Deutsche Bahn/Österreichische Bundesbahnen (no data was collected for the Sweden region in 2019 due to the low level of business travel coupled with the considerable outlay involved in collecting the data). GHG Protocol factors from external travel agencies were applied for flights. These CO2 factors were selected because they are up to date and accurate.
Data Collection and Raw Data
The environmental key figures relating to heat consumption in the portfolio were calculated based on the energy certificate data wherever possible. These cover heat consumption in both the residential units and communal areas. Energy certificates contain mandatory information regarding the energy rating of individual buildings. Only approved external companies (usually engineering firms or similar) are able to perform these calculations and provide official documents to the building owner. A distinction is made between demand and consumption certificates. The majority of Vonovia energy certificates are covered by demand certificates (approx. 74% in 2019, approx. 58% back in 2017), and more demand certificates will be generated in the future.
The environmental key figures for electricity consumption in the portfolio’s communal areas are based on the quantities accounted for by the Vonovia company VESG (Vonovia Energie Service GmbH).
The portfolio’s water consumption is based on meter readings, which are also included in the operating and ancillary costs, and refers to the residential and communal areas.
The portfolio’s waste volumes are calculated on the basis of the costs incurred, which are passed on to tenants via the operating and ancillary costs.
The offices’ environmental key figures are partly based on water and electricity bills from the energy providers, the municipal water utilities and the waste disposal company. Extrapolations were necessary in some cases because the bills from utility companies for the reporting period had not yet been received at the time of publication.
The fuel consumed by Vonovia’s fleet was evaluated based on fuel cards.