15 August 2017
Survey of major investors: sustainable investment is gaining in importance
The attitudes of institutional investors in Germany towards sustainable investment have become even more positive in 2017. An annual sentiment index compiled by Professor Henry Schäfer of the University of Stuttgart in collaboration with Union Investment confirms this trend.
The sentiment index is based on data from a survey of 204 major investors, including insurance companies, pension funds, banks, corporations and charitable trusts, with total assets under management of almost EUR 5 trillion. The index scale ranges from -100 to +100. It has risen steadily over recent years and now stands at nearly +20 points, up from just +5.4 points in 2013.
Two thirds of the investors surveyed confirmed that they are pursuing sustainable investment strategies. Five years ago, the proportion was less than half. The study indicates that sustainability has evolved from a soft criterion to a hard investment criterion, with 64 per cent of the institutional investors surveyed now regarding economic aspects as a crucial factor when making sustainable investments. That represents a significant increase of 22 percentage points compared to 2013.
Real estate accounts for almost a quarter of all sustainable investment, with only bonds and equities having slightly higher allocations.
17 July 2017
Prototype for calculating climate investments presented
At the end of June 2017, members of parliament met with real estate industry experts at the German Bundestag to discuss the financing of climate protection investments in commercial property.
At the meeting, DENEFF (the German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency) and Union Investment jointly presented the results of an exclusive pilot project. These results included a new tool which indicates what investments are needed in commercial properties and when they should be made in order to comply with the requirements of the Climate Protection Plan 2050.
DENEFF commissioned Hamburg-based consultancy the CO-Firm to develop a tool to measure and quantify the effect of investments in climate protection measures. The tool was also designed to ensure greater consideration is given to climate policy requirements when acquiring properties. Union Investment is the strategic partner for practical implementation of the tool.
12 June 2017
Sustainability in Union Investment’s latest annual report
The Union Investment Group recently published its full report for the 2016 financial year. Information on the sustainability of the property portfolio is presented in detail on pages 123–146.
The report clearly demonstrates that sustainability is a key element of the company’s overarching investment strategy and that Union Investment takes a holistic view of the issue. The various tools used to measure sustainability performance in the real estate segment are also presented. The report is notable for its high level of transparency. Data relating to 240 properties was taken into account when compiling the key performance indicators, corresponding to 78 per cent of the portfolio space and equivalent to 5,265,089 square metres of usable floor area.
Other key indicators, including final energy consumption, CO2 emissions, water consumption and waste volume, are determined as combined totals for the entire real estate portfolio, with mean values then being defined and the figures also broken down by property type. The average consumption per property per year is 251 kWh of energy, 63 kg of CO2 and 0.59 cubic litres of water per square metre. Investors are also provided with an overview of certified properties, with the proportion by value having increased from 43 to 55 per cent of the entire portfolio.
The full annual report is available at:
8 May 2017
2017 HAWtech conference: Building for the Future
The German Alliance for Applied Sciences – HAWtech comprises six German universities of applied sciences, all with a strong technical focus in their research and teaching. The alliance held its third annual conference on 4 and 5 May in Berlin. Representatives from the worlds of research, politics and business met at HTW Berlin’s Wilhelminenhof campus to discuss current trends in sustainability and the digitisation of construction.
The first day of the event featured specialist presentations from a variety of perspectives. Topics ranged from the disruptive forces and opportunities offered by digitisation of the construction industry to the scientific assessment of a property throughout its entire lifecycle. Predictions for the period up to 2040 were made. The speakers came from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, Aachen University of Applied Sciences, Dresden University of Applied Sciences and other institutes. The day concluded with a panel discussion on the headline theme of innovation.
The second day was divided into four workshops focusing on sustainability and digitisation. Each of the working groups met in the university’s lecture halls, where the experts discussed key industry trends including sustainable refurbishment of existing properties and requirements for the use of building information modelling. Union Investment employees also took part in the event.
19 April 2017
Study by the University of Regensburg: The added value of sustainability in figures
A recent study by the University of Regensburg examined the cost-benefit ratio of sustainably designed commercial properties. The analysis of some 200 office buildings is based on data made available by Union Investment.
The authors from the International Real Estate Business School (IREBS) conclude that sustainability certificates have a mixed impact. On the one hand, LEED, BREEAM and DGNB ratings have increasingly become the norm and are no longer a differentiating factor in the standard valuation classes. On the other hand, the highest certification levels, i.e. LEED Platinum, DGNB Platinum and BREEAM Very Good, still stand out and have a measurable effect on rents and market values.
The IREBS researchers also found that an increase of 100 kWh per square metre in a building’s energy requirement can reduce the monthly rent by five per cent or more. In this case, the market value could fall by over EUR 300 per square metre. The conclusion is clear: what really matters to market players is the sum of the sustainability features that contribute to the property’s certification, not merely the presence of a label.
10 March 2017
BVI Sustainability Day 2017: expert seminar in Frankfurt
Sustainability has been a priority issue for the German Investment and Asset Management Association (BVI) for many years. The organisation regularly provides new insights into future developments around sustainability in the real estate sector, including through events such as the upcoming one-day expert seminar on Wednesday, 19 April 2017.
From 10.30 am to 5.30 pm, discussion in the conference rooms at BVI headquarters in Frankfurt will focus on sustainable investment strategies across various asset classes. Fund managers can use the event to learn about sources that allow them to stay abreast of sustainability trends and their impact. In addition, ways of assessing a fund’s sustainability will also be discussed. Another key topic will be how to implement the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and which detailed issues need to be addressed when doing so.
Attending the seminar costs EUR 350 for BVI members and EUR 700 for non-members. Click here to register.
03 February 2017
Taking stock: ECE Sustainability Conference 2017
ECE hosted a major sustainability conference on 2 February 2017 on the theme of “An eye on real estate: today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow”. Some 300 industry players gathered at the company’s premises in the Hamburg district of Poppenbüttel to discuss current issues around sustainability.
Under the auspices of Alexander Otto and Ole von Beust, the conference called for closer networking between all members of the real estate industry in order to ensure that tough climate protection goals can be achieved in an appropriate manner. The attendees included planners, owners, users and politicians – since the latter group largely defines the framework for action.
In addition to discussing the feasibility of political objectives, the conference focused on presenting ideas and possible solutions. For example, software developer Cisco Systems showcased intelligent data systems that facilitate control of light, ventilation and heating in office buildings. Another focal point of the conference was the treatment of existing building stock. The discussion showed that the sustainability of new builds is widely perceived by the public as being more important than updating existing properties. Architects GRAFT Gesellschaft von Architekten mbH presented a number of impressive examples of how existing commercial buildings can be successfully refurbished.
Representatives from Union Investment also attended the ECE Sustainability Conference 2017 and took an active part in the discussions.
07 November 2016
Energy Efficiency Finance Forum: How economically viable is climate protection?
Since the end of 2015, the Energy Efficiency Finance Forum has been focusing on the potential for energy savings in commercial real estate. On 29 November 2016, the Forum will hold its annual conference in Berlin, where 150 decision-makers and experts are set to discuss current issues around the economic viability of climate protection.
The Energy Efficiency Finance Forum was established by the German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency (DENEFF), and its upcoming annual conference has prominent political support. For one day, experts from various sectors will come together in the atrium of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). The minister, Dr. Barbara Hendricks, will make an opening speech.
Alongside professionals from the real estate industry, the attendees include experts from the energy efficiency sector and representatives from politics, science and relevant non-governmental organisations. The aim is to ensure a lively and multifaceted discussion. In addition to the opportunities presented by investing in climate protection, the commercial risks will also be outlined, with the conference motto always in mind: “What price the earth? Investing in climate protection – between risk provision and performance management of buildings.” Union Investment will also be contributing its expertise to the discussion. Further information on the event can be found here.
04 November 2016
German Energy Agency conference 2016: many facets of energy transition
On 22 and 23 November, 700 decision-makers and experts from business and politics will come together at the Berlin Congress Center for the German Energy Agency (“dena”) conference 2016. The attendees will discuss many different aspects of Germany’s energy transition with a particular focus on commercial real estate.
The dena conference, which is funded primarily by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, is a two-day event hosted by the independent German Energy Agency. DZ Bank AG is also supporting the event. The first day of the conference will feature the presentation of the 2016 Energy Efficiency Award. Now in its tenth year, the award recognises outstanding projects in the industrial, trade and commerce sectors. For the first time, a special prize will also be awarded to digital solutions that improve energy efficiency.
On the second day of the conference, there will be an expert panel discussion on the topic of “Energy Efficiency in Non-Residential Buildings”, which forms Module F and will take place from 10.00 to 11.30 a.m. One of the keynote speeches will be held by Jan von Mallinckrodt, head of Real Estate Segment Development at Union Investment Real Estate GmbH. From 10.30 a.m., he will be addressing the benefits of energy efficiency upgrading for commercial building owners. Further information on the conference programme can be found here.
05 October 2016
Symposium in Berlin: New insights on sustainability
On 3 November 2016, the 40 Percent Symposium is taking place for the seventh time. International representatives from every segment of the real estate industry will come together in the Regent Hotel Berlin on Gendarmenmarkt square to discuss topical sustainability issues.
The 40 Percent Symposium in Berlin targets investors, portfolio managers and developers from the commercial property sector. Across four sessions, each followed by an open round table discussion, it offers a high-level forum for sharing information on sustainability trends and how they add value to the real estate sector. There will be a strong focus on innovation, with numerous best practice examples. For example, Chris Bennett, Managing Director of Sustainable Commercial Solutions, will demonstrate how data analysis can be used to improve property and portfolio sustainability.
This year, the introductory keynote speech at the 40 Percent Symposium will be held by Martin Brühl, a member of the Management Board of Union Investment Real Estate GmbH and past RICS president. His presentation entitled “Actions speak louder than words” will provide the contextual backdrop for the symposium. To view the complete programme, click here.
29 September 2016
Guidelines on corporate social responsibility in the real estate industry
The German real estate sector’s Corporate Governance Initiative (CGI) recently published new guidelines. Running to some 150 pages, the document uses numerous practical examples to outline how the property industry can demonstrate effective engagement.
The guidelines are aimed at around 800,000 companies in Germany and provide concrete suggestions around doing business in a sustainable and socially responsible way, as well as numerous examples. The three key themes – Diversity at Work, Social Justice, and Living Together in the Social Environment – are subdivided into 67 action areas. What makes this special is that no other sector has a comparable reference work. As such, the real estate sector is playing a pioneering role and can serve as a model for other industries. Union Investment was actively involved in drawing up the guidelines, along with 23 other leading companies from the real estate sector.
The document is available to download free of charge at www.wir-zeigen-verantwortung.de/en/. It was officially unveiled at the ICG Corporate Responsibility Day on 28 September 2016 in Berlin.
15 September 2016
First green lease in Luxembourg
UBS (Luxembourg) S.A and Union Investment have signed the first green lease for a commercial property in Luxembourg. The contract for 2,730 sq m of office space largely follows the recommended clauses and actions for sustainable building use developed by Union Investment and five other real estate companies and published in 2015 under the title “Green Lease Agreements”.
The main focus of the clauses is the use of environmentally friendly cleaning products and specifying ecological requirements when commissioning construction work. With regard to cleaning products, for example, it states that the solvent content should be less than two per cent. Both measures help to deliver a noticeable improvement in the interior climate.
In addition, a user handbook for tenants contains information on energy-efficient building operation. By agreeing to provide each other with regular reports, Union Investment and USB (Luxembourg) S.A. are also entering into a dialogue on sustainability.
15 August 2016
Expo Real 2016: Sustainability topics feature at top trade show
Expo Real expects to receive almost 40,000 visitors from over 70 countries again this year. Once more, there will be a number of sustainability topics on the agenda at Europe’s largest public platform for the commercial real estate world. As such, the trade show reflects the current industry reality in which sustainability criteria play a key role in real estate investment.
The sustainability agenda starts on Tuesday, 4 October with a series of events by BASF entitled “Real Estate – People – Health: Balancing the Living and Working Environment”. To be held in hall B3, room B32 from 10.00 am to 1.30 pm, discussion will focus on how buildings can increase employee well-being and thereby boost performance. The company is thus addressing the hot topic of healthy properties and examining it in the context of corporate real estate management.
Throughout the trade show, which runs from 4 to 6 October, the shared stand of the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) will also host various individual presentations and discussion sessions on current trends and developments. The Federal Chamber of Architects (BAK), the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and the Federal Foundation of Baukultur will also all be on the stand (hall A2, stand 332), under the slogan “Sustainable Baukultur”.
An overview of the full programme of events at Expo Real can be found here. Union Investment looks forward to welcoming visitors in hall B2, stand 142 and sharing ideas on sustainable real estate investment.
03 August 2016
2016 German Sustainability Award: Who will be the winner in the Construction category?
Now in its ninth year, the German Sustainability Award has become an important prize that receives wide media coverage. On 25 November 2016, the winners in the five main categories – Companies, Products, Construction, Research, and Cities and Communities – will be announced at the Maritim Hotel in Düsseldorf.
In 2015, the refurbishment and addition of new storeys to an apartment building in Pforzheim, Baden-Württemberg, won the Construction category. It will be interesting to see whether a commercial property takes the prize this year.
The German Sustainability Award ceremony is incorporated into the German Sustainability Conference, which takes place on 24 and 25 November at the Maritim Hotel in Düsseldorf and will attract approximately 2,000 participants, including numerous industry decision-makers, as well as well-known figures from politics, research and the media. The conference is therefore not just “Germany’s greenest gala”, but a high-level forum for sharing ideas around new sustainability trends and topical cross-sector issues.
02 May 2016
Real estate manager polls industry members on sustainable buildings
An article entitled “Ladenhüter ohne Label” (Slow sellers without labels), issue 4/2016, looks at the criteria that define a sustainable building and the role these play for investors.
We also took part in the survey. Jan von Mallinckrodt, Head of Sustainability at Union Investment Real Estate, explains how green due diligence can help to optimise existing buildings and which sustainability features are relevant for the investment process.
Click here for the article (in German).
29 April 2016
Union Investment 2015 Annual Report and CSR Report published
The combined 2015 Annual Report and Corporate Social Responsibility Report was presented to shareholders at the Union Asset Management Holding AG annual general meeting at the end of April.
Trust has many facets, and we explore some of them in our latest report. “Aggregation of Trust” describes our investors, customers and partners and the issues relevant to them. Read the report online here (in German) or download it as a PDF (in English). The report is also available as an app from various app stores.
29 November 2015
Strong sustainability performance by Union Investment’s open-ended real estate funds
GRESB ranks all funds as Green Stars
Union Investment's open-ended real estate funds demonstrate a consistently high level of sustainability. In the latest GRESB assessment, all six of the participating real estate funds for private and institutional investors were classified as Green Stars.
Funds are designated Green Stars – the highest of a total of four ratings – if they have integrated sustainability management and their processes and reporting procedures focus on sustainability criteria. Also included in the valuation is management of environmental performance, such as the real estate portfolio's energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
In the overall rankings, all of Union Investment's funds performed above average, while also scoring highly within their respective peer groups. In almost all of the seven categories assessed, the funds were able to improve on their previous score (see chart). Categories include management, policy & disclosure, risks & opportunities, and stakeholder engagement.
01 October 2015
Green leases continue to evolve
Union Investment Real Estate GmbH and other project partners develop new guide to green leases
Green leases have the – hitherto often unexploited – potential to boost user satisfaction and tenant retention while at the same time reducing costs. A guidance document addressing precisely this issue is now available. Entitled “Green Lease Agreements – Recommended clauses and actions for sustainable building use”, it provides all relevant stakeholders with a workable approach tailored to the German property market. This comprehensive reference guide to contract annexes with recommendations for sustainable building fit-out and usage is the result of close cooperation between the Office for Integrated Environmental Protection (BIU), the German Private Institute for Sustainable Real Estate (DIFNI), international law firm DLA Piper, Generali Deutschland AG, the German branch of Generali Real Estate S.p.A. and Union Investment Real Estate GmbH.
The results of the interdisciplinary working group will be presented at Expo Real 2015. “Green Lease Agreements – Recommended clauses and actions for sustainable building use” can be downloaded free of charge here.
30 June 2015
Union Investment Annual Report and CSR Report now online
The combined 2014 Annual Report and Corporate Social Responsibility Report was presented to shareholders at the Union Asset Management Holding AG annual general meeting at the end of May.
The report provides information on the activities of Union Asset Management Holding AG during the past accounting year and also on the sustainability performance of the Union Investment Group. Numerous articles, profiles and interviews illustrate the key achievements for Union Investment, its partners, investors and the company. The CSR Key Indicators section also provides facts and figures on Union Investment’s activities in relation to sustainable property management.
30 June 2015
Asset management rating: Scope awards top AAA rating to Union Investment's real estate business
Excellent ratings for global expertise and asset management process quality.
In the latest real estate asset management assessment carried out by Scope, Union Investment received the highest rating: AAA AMR. The ratings agency has thus recognised the excellent asset management quality of Union Investment's real estate business. “We are delighted by this recognition of our ongoing commitment to becoming one of Europe’s leading real estate asset managers, which in turn is greatly facilitated by our integration into the cooperative FinanzGruppe,” said Dr. Reinhard Kutscher, head of Union Investment's property segment. Union Investment's open-ended real estate funds for private and institutional investors also achieved gratifying results. The two “classic” funds, Unilmmo: Deutschland and UniImmo: Europa, were ranked highly among funds aimed at private investors, with excellent ratings of aa AIF and a+ AIF respectively. UniImmo: Global also performed very well, moving up two places in the rankings from last year to achieve a rating of a- AIF. The UniInstitutional European Real Estate fund and UniInstitutional German Real Estate fund, which are marketed exclusively to institutional investors, also scored well compared to the peer group, with the former fund achieving a rating of aa AIF and the latter – rated for the first time – achieving an aa- AIF. In 2013, Scope also began rating the sustainability of funds in addition to other risk factors. This takes into account both property-specific data and aspects of sustainability management. Scope commented on Union Investment: “The company plays a leading role in developing sustainability standards.”