About This Report
Content and Structure of the Report
This is our sixth sustainability report. We are continuing to expand our media coverage this year. In doing so, we are no longer reporting our Swedish and Austrian activities separately, and are instead integrating them in full – as a further step towards consolidated Group reporting – into the respective chapters. This year, we are also including our Swedish subsidiary Hembla AB, which was acquired in 2019 and is fully consolidated in economic terms as far as possible with the data available.
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 discussions in the Initiative Wohnen.2050 (IW.2050, see Carbon Reduction in the Property Portfolio/Energy-efficient Modernization) have shown how challenging the demand for comparability of key figures in the housing industry can be.
The thematic focal points of the Sustainability Report are the seven action areas that we identified as part of our materiality analysis, which was updated in 2020:
- Environment and climate
- Sustainable construction and development
- Society and contribution to urban development
- Homes and customers
- Corporate culture and employees
- Governance and responsible business practices
- Future fitness and the capital market
The report is structured according to our sustainability activities, which reflect the material economic, social and ecological aspects of Vonovia SE.
This report has been prepared in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards (as amended in 2016) Core option. We have applied more recent versions of the GRI standards where available. The corresponding GRI index can be found in the appendix to this report. We have informed GRI of the application of the GRI standards and the publication of this report.
Vonovia’s Sustainability Report is published on an annual basis. This reporting period relates to the 2020 fiscal year (January 1 to December 31, 2020), meaning that it picks up exactly where the 2019 Sustainability Report, which was published in June 2020, left off.
As a capital market-oriented company, Vonovia SE is also required to make disclosures in accordance with Sections 315b, 315c in conjunction with Sections 289c to 289e HGB. (Non-financial Group Declaration). The necessary reporting requirements were implemented in the management report, which forms part of the 2020 Annual Report, published March 4, 2021.
Last year, we updated our materiality analysis, which has been valid since 2017. To this end, we conducted a structured stakeholder survey and expert interviews in mid-2020, as well as management workshops within the company to identify and validate the material topics. The results have been incorporated into this report (see chapter Material Topics). In line with the GRI standards, the content of the report was selected based on the criterion of materiality.
In order to address the diverse stakeholder interests transparently and comprehensively, we are also guided – in addition to the GRI – by the EPRA Best Practice Recommendations on Sustainability Reporting (sBPR) (in its third version of 2017). For this purpose, we have prepared a separate EPRA report, which we publish on our website. In addition, for the Real Estate reporting framework of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), we create a mapping of the indicators to the content published in this report. As with the EPRA report, we will also make this available on our website outside the sustainability report.
We have already presented our implementation of the recommendations made by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD). This can be found in the form of a corresponding index in the non-financial statement within the Annual Report. In this report, we also integrate the recommendations and expand our reporting on them (see section Implementation of the TCFD Recommendations).
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). Key figures from the governance area were provided by the Legal department.
Both the Non-financial Declaration and the Sustainability Report are audited by the auditor of the annual financial statements, KPMG. The Sustainability Report has been audited with limited assurance (see Independent Auditor’s Report). All references to content outside this report are considered additional information and are not covered by the audit performed by KPMG. Also excluded from the audit procedures are the “project profiles,” which can be found in the substantive chapters of this report. These are clearly marked visually by a border and the heading “Project.”
Organizational Boundaries/Scope of Consolidation
These key figures focus on the activities of Vonovia SE in Germany, Austria and Sweden using the financial control approach. In contrast to previous years, we have included all acquisitions made in the 2020 fiscal year in this report. This concerned the acquisitions of the project developer Bien-Ries, which was acquired on April 2, 2020, and H&L Immobilien GmbH, which was acquired by Vonovia on December 30, 2020. Deviations from this rule are indicated in the respective text or key figure sections. This basic definition of the scope of the sustainability report on the consolidated companies is regularly reviewed for the next reporting cycle, and adjusted if necessary.
New calculation methods mean that the previous year’s results have been restated for some key figures. These are referred to as “restatements,” and include energy data and the associated carbon emissions for the Austrian portfolio, consumption data for office sites, waste volumes for the portfolio and office sites. This is marked accordingly in the respective tables of key figures.
The scope of consolidation relevant for calculating carbon emissions was defined in coordination with the scope of consolidation for the other environmental key figures.
The carbon emission calculations 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 calculations of emission savings (e.g., from modernization and heating renewal projects) are presented in tons of CO2 and not in CO2 equivalents.
We have harmonized the data sources and updated the emission factors for the calculation of carbon emissions in the current fiscal year (see also Carbon Reduction in the Property Portfolio/Energy-efficient Modernization). The figures can therefore not be directly compared with those of previous years.
The CO2e factors from the GEMIS database version 4.95 (2018/2019) and version 5.0 (2020) were predominantly used 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, and was recommended by the IW.2050. If other emission factors are applied in individual cases, this is indicated accordingly.
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 (Germany region 97%, Austria region 85%, Sweden region 100%). For the rest of the portfolio, in which the company holds a minority interest, the carbon emission figures are fully reported under Scope 3.
CO2e factors from the GEMIS database version 4.95 (2018/2019) and version 5.0 (2020) 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 emission factors and converted them to CO2e emissions. To calculate Scope 3 emissions from rail business travel, we used emission factors taken from Deutsche Bahn and Österreichische Bundesbahnen. For technical reasons, no business trips have been reported for Sweden to date. GHG Protocol factors from external travel agencies were applied for flights.