By Clemens Brenninkmeijer
2020 has a nice ring to it. It’s a special New Year, the start of a new decade, and only 20 years to fulfill our Mission 2040. Last year, we committed to making our entire portfolio net zero carbon by 2040 as part of our ongoing efforts to act responsibly and reduce our impact on the environment. We call this our “Mission 2040”. It is aligned with the World Green Building Council’s definition of Net Zero Carbon (NZC), stating that buildings should be highly energy efficient with all energy supplied by on-site or off-site renewable sources.
For many years, sustainability has played an important role in how we do business. This is true for the assets under management as well as for our own operations. For the latter, we have been measuring the impact of our operations since 2009 (office energy use, cars, and flights) and we are on track to meet the target we set back then to bring down the CO2 emissions per FTE by 50% by the end of this year. But, of course, a more significant reduction can be achieved by improving the environmental impact of the assets under management. More than 30% of global energy consumption and carbon emissions occur through the built environment. Clearly, our industry has a responsibility to find solutions and reduce carbon emissions. It is time to stop talking and, instead, to act responsibly, act collectively, and act now.
To embark on Mission 2040 and demonstrate what this requires, Redevco has selected four signature projects, comprising a retail transformation project, a residential development, an inner-city shopping centre project, and on-site renewable energy generation. These projects will be used to find out what actions are needed to make buildings net zero carbon and to show that our ambitions are realistic. Furthermore, all our redevelopments will have to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating. This higher ambition will stimulate our teams to build on our successful track record whilst maintaining a holistic view to pursuing positive environmental, social, and financial impact. Specifically, the energy efficiency of our buildings will be improved as much as possible through a combination of building material-related measures and collaboration with tenants.
The key to successfully bringing about change with a positive impact is collaboration. And although there is a lot of willingness, interests differ greatly, which influences priority setting and thus makes it hard to achieve alignment. We can only succeed in our mission if we learn to work together. For many retail tenants, operating their businesses sustainably has revolved around the core processes of production and manufacturing, whereas improving the environmental impact of their stores has typically received less attention. The key is to help the retailer. That is why Redevco, through the Redevco Foundation, has financially supported an initiative to create a “Retailer Toolkit” to explain what measures can easily be taken by small- and medium-sized retailers to make their shop fit-out and operational management more sustainable.
Looking back at the many climate-related events and strikes in 2019, it is apparent that we cannot afford to wait and that we need to act now. The science is clear, and it is encouraging to see that all around us, initiatives aimed at creating a more sustainable built environment are gathering force. We believe that legislation will get even tougher, but we should not wait for politicians to act; businesses must do the right thing and act now. It is my conviction that the environmental performance of buildings will have a direct impact on risk perception and, therefore, on yields. By working on making our portfolio net zero carbon, we are reducing the long-term risk of future obsolescence, thereby sustaining value.