Vonovia Publishes Sustainability Report 2021: Responsibility for the Environment and Society Expanded Further – Use of Renewable Energies Strengthened Considerably
- Climate Path Revised to 2045
- Further Increase in Customer Satisfaction
- Vonovia Singled Out as a “Great Place to Work”
- Green Bonds and Social Bonds Issued
- Increased Sustainability Index Exceeds Forecast
Bochum, April 28, 2022. Vonovia SE has published its Sustainability Report for the 2021 reporting year. Europe’s leading residential real estate company continues to live up to its ecological and social responsibility, stepping up its commitment to sustainability and climate protection. Vonovia had already defined a binding climate path back in 2020. The deadline for achieving the goal of a climate-neutral housing stock has now been brought forward to 2045 – five years earlier than originally planned. In order to achieve its objectives, Vonovia is focusing on accelerating the expansion of photovoltaic systems and heat pumps. “The topic of sustainability is firmly anchored within our company. We stepped up our commitment again last year, making good progress. We will continue to pursue this course. We want to help turn the climate and energy revolution into a reality and live up to our social responsibility,” declared Rolf Buch, CEO of Vonovia SE.
Neighborhood Approach to Climate Protection
If we want to rise to the challenges facing society, such as climate protection, the energy revolution, demographic change and urbanization, measures need to be implemented on a large scale. This is why Vonovia is focusing increasingly on modernizing and managing its existing neighborhoods, constructing completely new ones and on densification projects, for example using modular timber construction. The aim of focusing on neighborhoods is to take a holistic approach to addressing ecological and social challenges. Vonovia’s takeover of Deutsche Wohnen will put the company in an even better position to solve these issues.
Photovoltaic Systems for 30,000 Roofs
With energy costs on the rise, it is becoming increasingly clear that decentralized energy supplies using renewable energies are becoming more and more important – which is why we are focusing on the large-scale expansion of photovoltaics. After 1,000 buildings were successfully fitted with photovoltaic systems as part of the “1,000 Roofs” program, capacities are being expanded even further: We are aiming to have equipped almost all of the 30,000 suitable roofs in the portfolio with these systems by 2050. A special program has also been launched to install 6,000 heat pumps over a period of five years. “Our commitment to a climate-friendly portfolio is bearing fruit and allowing us to continuously improve our environmental footprint,” reported Catrin Coners, Head of Sustainability and Strategy. “The CO2 intensity of the existing German portfolio fell again – to 38.4 kg CO2e/m²a. In 2014, the value was still sitting at around 56 kg CO2e/m²a.”
Finding Sustainable Solutions
One major challenge facing the real estate sector lies in developing and using sustainable building materials. This is why Vonovia invited representatives from politics, industry and academia to the kick-off event as part of the “Perspectives on the Future of Construction” conference. The aim is for the attendees to join forces in the quest to find sustainable solutions aimed at preserving resources. The final event in this dialogue series will be held on November 23, 2022.
IT System Analyzes Climate Impact
In order to ensure that climate protection can be a success story, Vonovia is using advanced analysis technology: The company is using its own decarbonization tool to analyze the impact that its residential property and portfolios have on the climate. The IT system allows Vonovia to assess the impact that buildings have on the climate – it analyses how buildings are currently performing and what still needs to be done to make them climate-neutral, laying the foundation for a climate-optimized investment strategy.
Further Improvement in Customer Satisfaction
The Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) continued on its positive trajectory from the previous year and improved by a further 4.5% in 2021, lifting it to an all-time high. The steady increase in satisfaction is a positive sign – tenants living in Vonovia’s neighborhoods value the company as a reliable landlord that offers them security and stability. By way of example, Vonovia opted to waive potential claims for rental back payments in Berlin, even though the rent freeze imposed there has since been declared unconstitutional. What is more, the company invested around € 2.19 billion in its portfolio and completed more than 2,200 apartments in Germany, Austria and Sweden despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vonovia is a “Great Place to Work”’
Last year, Vonovia surveyed its employees in Germany, Austria and Sweden to see how satisfied they were with their employer. 76% of those surveyed agreed that “All in all, I can say that this is a great place to work.” Thanks to its very good overall score, the company has now been certified as an excellent employer by the consultancy institute “Great Place to Work.”
Green Bonds and Social Bonds Issued
2021 saw Vonovia issue its very first green bond in the amount of € 600 million with a maturity of ten years. This is a targeted way of raising capital for sustainable investments. The funds will be channeled into new construction or modernization projects that have a minimum energy efficiency class of B (in Austria minimum A). In March 2022, the company also issued two social bonds for the first time to be used to finance social projects, such as occupancy controlled homes for low-income households.
Top Marks in Sustainability Rankings
Vonovia’s commitment to sustainability and social issues was recognized in the sustainability ranking of the rating agency Standard & Poor’s Global – Vonovia scored a total of 68 out of 100 points, meaning that it continues to rank among the top-rated companies in the industry. The fact that Vonovia made it into the top 7% of residential real estate companies with global operations also confirms its ranking in the renowned Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) Europe.
Vonovia also improved again in the ESG risk ranking of the independent service provider Sustainalytics. The company is now assigned to the lowest risk category of “negligible risks” with a score of 6.7 points. This sees Vonovia join the ranks of the best-performing companies worldwide, coming in 28th out of around 15,000 companies evaluated. “Companies need a clear purpose regarding the contribution they are aiming to make to the environment and society. This is also what shareholders expect. These excellent rankings serve as confirmation that sustainability is the compass that guides us in our actions and project management. We are living up to our social responsibility,” said Rolf Buch.
Sustainability Performance Index up to 109%
The company made very good progress overall in 2021: The Sustainability Performance Index (SPI) climbed to 109%, outstripping Vonovia’s original forecast. The report, which was prepared in accordance with the globally recognized GRI standards, also shows that Vonovia has taken on even greater responsibility towards tenants and also towards its employees since the start of the pandemic in 2020. The takeover of Deutsche Wohnen SE further increases the potential for sustainable projects.
Commitment to Refugees from Ukraine
The war in Ukraine highlights the fact that Vonovia also sees social responsibility as a key part of sustainable action. The company is providing housing for people who have been displaced from Ukraine quickly and unbureaucratically on a dedicated platform. Vonovia is working closely with city authorities across Germany to coordinate the allocation of available apartments. Vonovia’s craftsmen are also renovating homes for refugees, even if these homes are not in the company’s portfolio, using tools and material made available by Vonovia. “For us, helping refugees from Ukraine in their hour of need is a matter of course,” said Rolf Buch.
Assistance for Tenants With Rising Energy Prices
In order to ensure that Vonovia’s tenants are not left facing financial hardship due to rising energy costs, also as a result of the war, the company uses various channels to provide its tenants with information on how to reduce heating and energy costs at an early stage. Vonovia also continues to guarantee a moderate rent policy and aims to offer affordable housing to everyone in society. With an average rent of € 7.19 per square meter in its German portfolio, that is being achieved.
The average refurbishment cost allocation came to € 1.24 – as in the previous year. Vonovia has also concluded agreements with individual city authorities, for example in Berlin and Frankfurt, to limit rents on a voluntary basis. The hardship management system also steps in when tenants cannot afford the modernization cost allocation. Vonovia also offers special protection to people aged over 70. The company guarantees that their apartment will remain affordable even if the market rents change. This is another area in which Vonovia assumes social responsibility for its tenants.
The international GRI standards for sustainability reporting are published by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and are continually under review. The development of these standards involves not only governmental organizations but also NGOs such as environmental and human rights groups and, last but not least, the companies themselves. GRI was founded in 1997 with the help of the United Nations Environment Program and has its office in Amsterdam.
Vonovia’s Sustainability Report is only published online – as a contribution to the sustainable use of resources. The German version can be downloaded at the following web address:
The English version is available via the following link: