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Berlin/Bochum, October 1, 2020 – Vonovia intends to become the driving force for climate protection in the housing industry and is making residential neighborhoods the focal point of a decentralized energy revolution. At its conference “Outlook for Climate-Neutral Living,” hosted on October 1, 2020 on the EUREF Campus in Berlin, Germany’s leading residential real estate company presented ideas for achieving climate-neutral housing stock across the entire industry. Five areas of action were identified for the neighborhood of the future: rate of refurbishment, renewable energies, changeover of the electricity supply system, mobility and tenants.
The building sector’s contributions toward Paris Agreement targets were discussed in Berlin before an audience including the Chairwoman of the Alliance 90/The Greens Party in the German Bundestag, Katrin Göring-Eckardt; State Secretary Andreas Feicht (German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy); and prominent scientists. “Greater energy efficiency in housing stock is one of the catalysts for achieving climate protection goals. We are taking on social responsibility for the development of an efficient climate path that tenants can afford,” explained Rolf Buch, Chief Executive Officer of Vonovia, in his opening address at the conference.
Together with the Fraunhofer Society and the German Energy Agency, Vonovia developed a preemptive approach to create solutions for climate-neutral housing with a focus on neighborhoods. The electricity, heating and mobility sectors will be combined so that locally produced energy and heating can be used directly by the rental apartments. In addition, efficiency gains will be passed along directly to tenants so that climate protection is affordable for all, thereby boosting acceptance of energy-efficient refurbishment. Experts agree that this requires a simplified landlord-to-tenant electricity model which enables tenants to participate in the energy revolution. Vonovia already boasts a yearly refurbishment rate of more than three percent (the average in the building sector is around one percent) and intends to move to serial refurbishment in the future. “However, changes in the overall conditions are required to achieve climate-neutral housing that is also affordable. Incentives are needed to enable Energiesprong projects, where the costs are offset by the energy savings for tenants,” explained Rolf Buch.
Neighborhoods will become small power plants and mobility providers
As a further step on the path toward increased climate protection, Vonovia intends to turn neighborhoods into small power plants. These will become an integral part of the energy system of the future. Vonovia is thus backing the decentralized energy revolution. The company is already building approximately five megawatt photovoltaic plants per year across Germany. This will supply approximately 2,500 households with electricity. In the future, the electricity generated through photovoltaic plants will be transformed into hydrogen (among other things), which is used to heat buildings in winter by means of fuel cells. This model would allow the local housing industry to become not only a consumer but also a generator and distributor of energy in its neighborhoods.
Neighborhoods will play an additional role in the mobility revolution: They could become platforms for mobility concepts that are viable long-term. To achieve this, Vonovia would provide the charging infrastructure for tenants, cities and municipalities, in cooperation with communities. Upon tenants’ request, Vonovia will install up to 10,000 wall sockets by 2030.
“With approximately 350,000 residential units in Germany, we know that we can make a great contribution to climate protection. Yet this will only be possible through the combined effort of politicians, tenants, and the housing and energy industries. We need investments and credible efforts on the part of the industry,” said Rolf Buch, encouraging joint action. He defined Vonovia’s task as follows: “Today, we presented a solution for climate-neutral housing, which we are ready to put into practice in the coming decades. This is our contribution toward a climate-neutral Germany and Europe.”