Sustainability Report 2020

What Drives Us

Creating Sustainable Living

Neighborhood Climate Protection Measures

Ms. Werner, what sets a climate-conscious neighborhood apart?

Above all, a climate-conscious neighborhood calls for a holistic approach. In addition to energy-efficient refurbishment and the expansion of renewable energies, we are also embracing innovative new approaches – for example, looking at entire neighborhoods where energy generation and supply can be decentralized. The challenge lies in particular in implementing this in the building portfolio that has grown over the course of decades. And, in addition to the technical construction challenges, it is always essential to consider social elements in a climate-conscious neighborhood. After all, climate-neutral homes need to be affordable.

Apartment building with balconies (Foto)
In the Wilhelmsburg district of Hamburg, south of the Elbe River, Vonovia is planning to implement energy-saving measures to advance climate protection at fair prices.
Miss Werner, neighbourhood manager in Hamburg Wilhemsburg (Foto)
Anne Werner, Regional Area Manager in Hamburg, is ensuring that climate protection and affordable housing in Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg are considered together.
You are responsible for overseeing a large community development project in Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg. What is the plan there exactly?

Around 5,400 people live in east Wilhelmsburg. Most of them in apartments built between the 50s and the 70s. With our planned investment in the buildings and outdoor facilities, we want to significantly improve the neighborhood’s climate footprint. The energy-saving measures on our properties, of which approximately 1,400 are residential and 23 are commercial, offer the potential for high savings in the long term. We combine electricity and heat with energy-efficient refurbishment and focus, among other things, on the expansion and development of a local heating network. It should be possible to use the energy generated directly in the neighborhoods. In addition, regenerative energy sources such as photovoltaics and solar thermal energy are available. The green space concept will also be adapted to the requirements of climate change through targeted water management. And, of course, there is also a mobility concept to go with this.

You can find more information here:

Carbon Reduction in the Property Portfolio/Energy-efficient Modernization

Outlook for Climate-neutral Housing

As Germany’s leading residential real estate company, Vonovia takes its responsibility for people and the environment seriously. We want to actively seek answers in order to respond to the current challenges presented by the housing market, and to help shape it for the future. Together with the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance and the German energy agency dena, we have therefore developed an approach for achieving carbon-neutral housing. In October 2020, we presented our approaches and requests to policymakers across five action areas at our first specialist conference “Outlook for climate-neutral housing.” We held on-site discussions with high-ranking representatives of the German government, politics, business and science, and talked about our goals and the housing industry’s contribution to the Paris Climate Agreement. We have also made a binding declaration for our portfolio to be carbon-neutral by 2050. The conference represents an additional step in our long-term dialogue process with numerous stakeholders from the housing and energy industries as well as from politics. After all, in implementing our climate path, we rely on partnerships and an integrated, cross-sector approach. More information at:

You can find more information here:

Carbon Reduction in the Property Portfolio/Energy-efficient Modernization


“We have made a binding declaration for our portfolio to be carbon-neutral by 2050.”

Rolf Buch, CEO
Icon – Perspektiven Klimaneutralen Wohnens (icon)
Working with representatives from the worlds of politics, business and science, we were able to discuss solutions for achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement at our first specialist conference “Outlook for climate-neutral housing.”

Green Power Straight From the Roof – 1,000x

Solar energy is an important factor in driving forward the decentralized energy revolution and thus supplying electricity and heat to neighborhoods in a carbon-neutral manner. Photovoltaic systems installed on otherwise unused roof space can deliver green energy directly to homes. Vonovia wants to make the most of the potential this offers. In the “1,000 roofs” program launched in 2019, at least 1,000 roof surfaces in the portfolio are to be equipped with photovoltaic panels. The roofs were selected based on a nationwide solar potential analysis that took into account GPS data of the buildings and factors such as roof pitch and orientation, shading and solar radiation. Most of the solar power from the “1,000 roofs” program is fed into the public grid. In the medium to long term, however, Vonovia is seeking to decentralize the energy supply to its own neighborhoods and tenant electricity concepts. The goal of the program has almost been reached: By the end of 2020, 841 roofs had already been equipped with PV modules. The 1,000 mark will be reached in 2020 – the perfect occasion to continue expanding the program – because the potential for solar energy is astronomical.

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Renewable Energies and Energy Mix

Apartment building with solar panels (Foto)
Vonovia sees great potential in unused roof surfaces for generating energy and achieving our climate targets.
Two men with solar panels in the background (Foto)

Let’s head to the garden!

A new rental offering that also promotes ecological diversity – tenant gardens and shared gardens make it possible. The tenant garden is available to tenants with apartments on the first floor and offers sufficient space. The garden is created as an extension to the balcony and thus offers a place to relax just a few steps away. For neighborhoods that have more space, we plan to create shared gardens. These are demarcated gardens that can be leased by residents, similar to allotment gardens.

You can find more information here:


House with garden (Foto)
Our tenant gardens give our tenants a place to exercise their green thumbs beyond their balconies, and offers them a place to relax just a stone’s throw away from home.

ERnteLAA: Living in harmony with nature

Our subsidiary BUWOG completed the pioneering project in Meischlgasse in Vienna’s Liesing district in fall 2020. This involves pursuing a comprehensive sustainable concept – from the entrance right up to the attic itself. The project offers 31 privately financed rental apartments and 160 subsidized rental apartments within the framework of the Vienna Housing Initiative. The living spaces range from 51 to 116 m2. In addition to environmentally friendly materials and low-emission wall paints, the extensive use of vegetation is also a special feature. It protects against heat and cold and also makes an important contribution to biodiversity. On the roof of the facility, greenhouses are available for overwintering potted plants and growing young plants, as well as large beds and raised beds. A glass lounge equipped with underfloor heating is a place for gardening and socializing – regardless of the weather, at any time of year. Sunny terraces, loggias, and private gardens in “ERnteLAA” invite people to enjoy outdoor living to the fullest without having to leave home. This is in addition to the roof gardens and private balconies. These green measures are also making a stir internationally. The project qualified for the International Property Award with a 5-star rating at the European Property Award 2020, where it was named “Best Sustainable Residential Development in Europe.”

You can find more information here:

Sustainable Construction and Development

House with greenhouses on rooftop and street (Foto)
Patch with greenhouses on rooftop in the background (Foto)
One of the unique features are the greenhouses on the roof, which make it possible to grow fruit and vegetables even in the middle of the large city.


new rental apartments as part of the Vienna Housing Initiative
House with greenhouses on rooftop and street (Foto)

Weststadt Neighborhood: Made of the right wood

The principle of ecological and economic responsibility is a top priority in community development in the Weststadt neighborhood. The unique feature here is that the new buildings use unglued solid wood, which is why the buildings save 94% carbon emissions during production alone. The spruce wood is not only used as wall cladding – all of the exterior walls and ceilings of the buildings are also made of it. At the same time, these trees can be considered a carbon sink, which means that they permanently absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and thus take pressure off our climate. After 50 years of operation, the glueless solid wood variant will still not have produced the same quantity of emissions as the conventional design would have within one year of construction. In addition, all building materials used are separable and can be reused later. The two new buildings have already been completed, and further projects of this kind are to follow. We are also using wood for modernization and vertical expansion in our existing portfolio. And what’s more, this work will make the neighborhood even greener.

You can find more information here:

Sustainable Materials and Products

Exterior view wood panelling with scaffold (Foto)
Suedkorn quarter with persons in the foreground (Foto)
Living room with wood panelling (Foto)
Spruce wood is used in various ways in the Weststadt neighborhood. It can be found in the neighborhood not only as wall cladding, but also in exterior walls and ceilings, providing a comfortable living environment.

Successful Integrated Community Development in Aachen Preuswald

The suburban development, surrounded by forest, was created in 1969 and was planned as a high-quality neighborhood situated in green surroundings. In the decades that followed, however, a negative trend emerged due to problems such as aging buildings and poor infrastructure. But then things started to turn around. Over the past eight years, Vonovia has worked with residents, politicians, AWO Aachen and the city of Aachen to implement a wide range of measures that have stabilized the social structure, improved quality of life, and significantly enhanced the neighborhood’s attractiveness. Preuswald now offers livable and affordable housing for all.

Building with balconies and bushes in the foreground (Foto)
White apartment builduing with balconies (Foto)
By cooperating with stakeholders from politics and AWO Aachen, Aachen Preuswald is becoming more livable for everyone.
Yellow appartment building (Foto)
Balcony concerts are intended to brighten the daily lives of residents and strengthen cohesion within the neighborhood.
Structural measures:

Energy-efficient modernizations Accessible refurbishment Redesign of quality recreation areas Installation of a combined heat and power plant

Social measures:

Leasing of a commercial unit to AWO Aachen for the opening of a local store in order to improve local supply in the district Organizing events for tenants Renting rooms for a district office as a neighborhood meeting place at favorable conditions Balcony concerts Expansion of the range of services with the AWO for elderly residents within the framework of the cooperation agreement

You can find more information here:

Community Development and Contribution to Infrastructure

Commitment to Socially Sustainable Communities

Our portfolio in Sweden is often located in areas where the unemployment rate is higher and social integration lower than the Swedish average. That’s why we are committed to social sustainability, especially in these areas, in order to improve social structures and create attractive living space. A project close to our hearts is the Environmental Caretaker Program. The goal is to help long-term unemployed tenants regain a foothold in the workforce through temporary employment lasting between 12 and 18 months. Last year, we were able to hire around 30 people in this way. The environmental caretakers receive hands-on training from the neighborhood managers and colleagues, and are responsible for neighborhood maintenance, while also fostering dialogue between neighbors. In this way, we support them in their first step back into the workforce and wider society. Since the program began, we have hired a total of 143 tenants. About 65% of our environmental caretakers found permanent employment in the primary workforce after completing the program. The support program also has further positive effects on the behavior of other tenants, leading, for example, to reduced vandalism and the greater attractiveness of our housing.

You can find more information here:

Involvement and Participation

Craftsperson (Foto)
Appartment buildings with backyard (Foto)
Andreas Karlsson on bike (Foto)
Andreas is one of many environmental caretakers who have found permanent em ployment after completing the program.

Individual Solutions in Difficult Situations

For tenants, an upcoming modernization project is news that often comes with mixed feelings. In addition to concerns about restrictions in everyday life and possible noise pollution, older residents in particular are worried that they will no longer be able to afford their apartments following any subsequent rent adjustments that may be made. That’s why we offer our tenants a hardship arrangement. People in need can contact a number set up for this purpose. Incoming hardship applications are forwarded to the 25 neighborhood managers in each region. After examining and contacting the affected tenants, a case of hardship is recognized in most cases. In the case of modernization measures, rent increases will be lessened significantly. In this way, we have already been able to successfully solve many inquiries.

You can find more information here:

Living at Fair Prices

Two persons speaking at a table (Foto)

“The people we are able to help to stay in their familiar surroundings are relieved and happy.”

Marion Beier, Head of Hardship Management
Man and woman in callcenter (Foto)

Housing First: A Home at Last

When a person is homeless, on top of the daily struggle to survive on the street, it is difficult to manage issues relating to housing, work and social life at the same time. In contrast to the usual approach to emergency housing assistance, where the homeless are housed in public facilities and offered support such as counseling services, the “Housing First” model adopts a new paradigm. Providing people with a place of their own to live is the first step in offering assistance. The people affected should be able to sign their own tenancy agreements first of all, and then be offered support in their own homes in the form of outreach work and various measures.

Reading man with hat (Foto)
Three men outside (Foto)
Thanks to the “A Home at Last” initiative, homeless people are given access to their own four walls, and a fresh start in life.

Vonovia supports this philosophy and is engaged in a number of initiatives and projects. We are part of the North Rhine-Westphalian “A Home at Last” initiative and play an active part by providing apartments from our own portfolio. We work with local partners in around ten different cities to give people a new home. In Dresden, too, as in North Rhine-Westphalia, we make it possible for homeless people to rent their own homes through the “Housing First” initiative, in cooperation with the city’s social welfare office. An offer of proactive support is intended to help those affected to find their way to a life of dignity and autonomy.

Finding a place to live is not only difficult for people affected by homelessness. This is also often a major obstacle for refugees. We also support a number of projects and measures in this area. For example, last year alone we were able to provide housing for around 200 refugees – also in Dresden.

You can find more information here:

Living at Fair Prices

Comfortable Living in Old Age

A large number of our projects focus on the needs of an aging society. As part of this, we focus on the potential offered by construction measures for making homes accessible as well as on providing support.

Pensioners at a table (Foto)
Icon – JOVO Treff (Icon)
Appartment building exterior view (Foto)
The conversion of two high-rise buildings in the Ziekowitz housing estate has created 145 apartments for senior citizens.

In Berlin-Tegel, for example, we are currently working on an exciting community development project in which a total of 145 apartments for senior citizens are being created in the Ziekowkiez residential area by converting the apartments in two high-rise buildings. In addition to the accessible and comfortable residential units, a wide range of services offered by the Johanniter organization provides everything a person needs for an autonomous everyday life into old age. An important component of the “senior living with service” model is the neighborhood community center “JOVO-Treff.” This center is a collective effort between the Johanniter organization and Vonovia and aims to improve people’s quality of living and social cohesion. The Johanniter organization puts on lunches for senior residents and regular group activities, and it has dedicated liaison officers on site. The liaison officers provide advice, help with official administrative matters and support the senior citizens in their everyday lives.

You can find more information here:

Needs-based Housing (demographic change)

Further Insights in the Customer App

Since launching our customer app, we have been working continuously to enhance its functionalities. Our customers can use the app to access many of Vonovia’s services around the clock – quickly and easily. For example, they receive notifications about orders, can organize appointments themselves and track the status of their requests. All important documents are provided in the personal mailbox and can be accessed at any time. In 2020, we introduced even more functions. Customer satisfaction surveys and individual surveys can be carried out via the app. From 2021, we will be expanding the app to include prospective tenants, who will then be able to carry out searches and appointment bookings and conclude tenancy agreements digitally. In addition, the app is being expanded to include its own energy section.

You can find more information here:

Customer Satisfaction and Service Quality

Women with smartphone (Foto)


active users
Smartphone (Foto)
In the Vonovia customer app, tenants can quickly and easily view documents, make appointments or manage orders.

100 additional apprenticeships

Vonovia assumes social responsibility. Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to offer young people professional opportunities and security. In doing so, we also support those with more difficult starting conditions or refugee backgrounds. That’s why Vonovia has created 100 additional jobs and doubled the number of apprenticeships in manual trades. People embarking on their professional careers from companies that have found themselves in a difficult situation as a result of the pandemic also have the opportunity to continue their training at Vonovia. With a training ratio of 5% in Germany, Vonovia is above the average for DAX companies. Of course, both sides benefit from this, since we have a high demand for skilled workers whom we would like to retain in the long term. Accordingly, trainees who perform well have the best chances of continuing to work at Vonovia after completing their training. We are also enhancing the quality of our training by recruiting five new training coordinators nationwide. This enables us to support trainees on a more individual basis, increasing the long-term chances that their training is successful and they are taken on permanently.

You can find more information here:

Appeal as an Employer


training rate (in Germany)
Two men outside (Foto)

“With the helpful support from my instructor, I always feel challenged and encouraged.”

Konstantin, dual-study trainee in business informatics
Man with notebook (Foto)
Two women in front of glass with post-its (Foto)
We give young people an equal chance when starting their careers, and also take into account those with more difficult starting conditions or refugee backgrounds.

A Professional Future at Vonovia

By cooperating with social organizations such as Joblinge, Teach First, Rheinflanke and offering internships and entry-level qualifications, we ensure that young people are given equal career opportunities and that no one is discriminated against on the basis of their background. Sozda Abdulkader has now been working at Vonovia for more than two years. Born in Syria, she fled her home more than five years ago and came to Germany via Turkey and Greece. After graduating from high school in Syria, she studied civil engineering and graduated with a diploma that was later recognized as a bachelor’s degree in Germany. At Vonovia, she started out as a trainee and learned everything that was important for her job in the first few years. The time spent in different departments helped her to get to know the working methods and her colleagues better. Since then she has been working as a project manager in the field of modernization in Bochum. Today, she has well and truly arrived: in Germany and at Vonovia.

You can find more information here:

Approach to Diversity and Equal Opportunities

Construction engineer Sozda Abdulkader (Foto)
Sozda Abdulkader, who studied civil engineering, came to Germany from Syria more than five years ago. Starting as a trainee, Sozda has now been with us for more than two years.

A Hotline for anonymous tip-offs

100% trust in our employees is fundamental to delivering peak performance every day. At the same time, we both want and have to find ways to uncover any violations of our Code of Conduct or legal requirements at an early stage, if only for reasons of labor law and criminal law. That’s why we have a whistleblowing hotline at Vonovia. We decided to implement the electronic whistleblowing system (BKMS), which employees, suppliers and customers can communicate information to completely anonymously by telephone and in writing. This is then carefully followed up by our compliance officers. A protected mailbox also enables queries in the event of ambiguities and guarantees that all parties involved are in a legally protected space.

You can find more information here:

Respect and Promotion of Human Rights

Woman in Callcenter (Foto)
Information about compliance violations can be communicated completely anonymously to Vonovia via the whistleblowing hotline.

New financing instruments

Vonovia has developed a Green Bond Framework and is thus also breaking new ground in financing. The additional liquidity from green bonds is used, among other things, to (re)finance sustainable projects in Germany, Austria and Sweden. The green bond is based on projects that meet certain selection criteria, such as high energy efficiency, the generation of renewable energy or emission-free mobility. These properties are kept in a green register that is externally verified for its conformity with the Green Bond Framework. We follow the Green Bond Principles (GBP), confirmed by Sustainalytics as part of its Second Party Opinion (SPO).

The annual Green Bond Investor Report provides transparent information on the use of funds and the positive impact of the green register properties on the environment. The Green Finance Committee, in turn, monitors and ensures constant compliance with the selection criteria and the allocation of the issue proceeds. We issued the first green bond in the amount of € 600 million in March 2021. It has received certification from the Climate Bond Initiative (CBI), which confirms that our green bond is in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. With the additional financing opportunities provided by green bonds, Vonovia sees itself additionally strengthened in actively contributing to solutions for the key ESG challenges.

More information at

You can find more information here:

Appeal on the Capital Market

Two persons with solar panels in the background (Foto)
Icon – Climate Bonds Standars Certified (Icon)
Office block with trees (Foto)
The generation of renewable energies via, e.g., photovoltaic plants is one of the selection criteria for the awarding of green bonds.

Our Seven Action Areas at a Glance

As part of the materiality analysis we conducted in 2020, we identified eleven material topics in seven action areas. In the Environment and Climate action area, we have set ourselves the goal of operating in a carbon-neutral manner by 2050. Within the action area of Future Viability and Capital Market, we are ensuring our long-term sustainable success. We take responsibility at every point and verify this through various measures in the action area Governance and Responsible Business Practices. In the action area Homes and Customers, the focus is on our tenants – we offer housing for all. We ensure that this living space is designed sustainably in the Sustainable Construction and Development action area. This is supported by our diverse and creative workforce, which is taken into account in the action area Corporate Culture and Employees. Together, we create livable neighborhoods in which coexistence is worthwhile and enjoyable. This is our last action area, Society and Contribution to Urban Development.

What topics are you interested in?

For a quick overview of the most important information in the 2020 Sustainability Report, we recommend the following eleven topics:

# Senior-friendly homes

Converting newly rented apartments to meet needs of the elderly

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# Goals & sustainability management

Roadmap with 15 targets for focusing on sustainability in the company

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# Renewable energies

Producing renewable energy through decentralized energy supply

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# Homes & customers

Offering housing for all at fair prices

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# Future fitness & the capital market

Making ourselves attractive to investors

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# In the property portfolio

Carbon reduction

Binding climate path for carbon-neutral building portfolio

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# Community development

Developing neighborhoods in a holistic way and making them vibrant

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# Diversity & equal opportunities

Respecting and encouraging diversity in the company

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# Attractive employer

Guaranteeing security and reliability, especially during the pandemic

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# Governance & compliance

Managing the company responsibly and sustainably

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# Sustainable construction

Optimizing energy efficiency and using environmentally conscious and sustainable methods in construction and refurbishment

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