Environment and Climate
Energy Efficiency and Carbon Reductions in Business Operations
Renting homes is not a resource-intensive business. In contrast to the situation in the manufacturing industry, our business operations only account for a small part of our carbon emissions – around 3%. Nevertheless, we continuously seek out opportunities to increase our level of resource efficiency and reduce our impact on the climate and the environment in our internal processes. Our vehicle fleet, our tools and appliances, our own office buildings and the behavior of our employees all offer opportunities to make a difference, e.g., by transitioning the fleet to low-emission vehicles, using power-saving electrical appliances for work in neighborhoods, buying green power for office buildings and avoiding business travel and transport.
We completed a DIN EN 16247-1 energy audit in Germany in 2020. The areas that were identified for improvement can be applied to the entire Group due to the homogeneity of asset structures and consumption patterns at Vonovia. The audit found that Vonovia employees were highly aware of how to use energy efficiently.
Vonovia has around 5,500 vehicles, the majority of which are used by our service technicians. The vehicle fleet accounts for about three-quarters of emissions from business operations. This is therefore where we have the most leverage for reducing carbon emissions in our own processes.
Measures already implemented in the vehicle fleet:
- Procured fuel-efficient vehicles
- Ensure transparency by assessing consumption of individual vehicles
- Conversion to e-vehicles in Austria
- Course on fuel efficiency for drivers/employees
- Use electric vehicles for short trips
- Use fuel-saving tires and engine oil
We are also continuing to switch our fleet over to electric vehicles and are using more bicycles and electric bicycles.
One of our focus areas in 2021 will be the switch to using battery-powered garden tools, e.g., leaf blowers and hedge trimmers. We plan to replace around 1,000 gasoline-powered tools with more environmentally friendly battery-powered versions. The new appliances will be highly recyclable and have significantly lower carbon and noise emissions, which will also benefit our tenants and improve the health of our employees.
We use a number of energy-saving measures in our offices, including LED lighting, motion sensors to turn lights on and off, and air-source heat pumps as an energy-efficient heating solution. We are moving towards paperless offices.
The new BUWOG headquarters has an ISO 50001-certified energy management system and opened its doors in 2020. This involved demolishing the existing building in Rathausstraße which used to house the data center for the city of Vienna. The new building was developed with a focus on sustainable construction materials and managing products and chemicals to ensure a supply of healthy air. Ecological construction standards as defined by the Austrian Sustainable Building Council (ÖGNI) were integrated into the project and met by all subcontractors. During the construction phase the building received the Gold pre-certificate from the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB). It was awarded the ÖGNI Gold certificate following completion (see chapter Development Business, – Annual Report 2020).
certification for the BUWOG headquarters in Vienna
The coronavirus pandemic also had an impact on carbon emissions from our business operations. Since the manual trades were able to continue working virtually without restrictions, there was no significant change in the fuel consumption of our fleet. Mobile working and online meetings significantly reduced the volume of commuting and business travel by our employees. We also had to run ventilation systems for much longer than usual to meet health and safety regulations. Office windows were also left open for longer, regardless of the weather.