All of Bouwinvest’s Dutch Office, Retail and Hotel Fund assets have received BREEAM-NL certification for the first time ever.
Bouwinvest Real Estate Investors has made a huge leap forward in making its real estate portfolio near carbon neutral – or ‘Paris Proof’ – by 2045 now that all the assets in the company’s Dutch Office, Retail and Hotel Funds are BREEAM-NL certified. 'We aim to do more on sustainability than legally required,' explained Bas Jochims, Director Dutch Office & Hotel Investments at Bouwinvest.
BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is used in more than 80 countries worldwide and BREEAM-NL was introduced in 2009 as a tailor-made comprehensive certification method to assess the sustainability of buildings in the Dutch market. By using BREEAM-NL, Bouwinvest can be assured of achieving a future-proof portfolio, as the BREEAM-NL standards are higher than what is legally required.
Bouwinvest aims to make all of its properties near climate-neutral by 2045 in line with the Paris climate agreement. Bas Jochims: 'By doing this, we ensure that our buildings remain attractive for tenants in the long term while continuing to provide a stable financial return for our clients, who are mostly Dutch pension funds. This also enables our investments to have a positive social impact, which our clients are increasingly demanding from us.'
High ratings for all assets
As of 2022, 70% of the invested capital in Bouwinvest’s Dutch Office Fund qualifies as ‘Excellent’ in terms of the BREEAM In- Use rating for the ‘Asset’ component. For its Dutch Retail Fund, no less than 94% of all the shops and shopping centres in the portfolio have received a ‘Good’ or ‘Very Good’ rating.
Last year, the Retail Fund also obtained five GRESB (Global Real Estate Benchmark) stars for its sustainability efforts for the first time ever, ranking it in the top 20% of the best-performing real estate funds in the world. In addition, all investments in Bouwinvest’s Dutch Hotel Fund have improved their BREEAM-NL label to ‘Very Good’, with more than half qualifying as ‘Excellent’.
Future-proofing monumental assets
The strong BREEAM-In-Use performance follows a great deal of effort to improve the portfolio. Bouwinvest not only focuses on sustainable new construction, but also on upgrading its existing assets to make them energy-efficient and no longer reliant on natural gas. The World Trade Center in Rotterdam, for example, has undergone a largescale refurbishment since it was acquired in 2014, and the sustainability credentials of the mixed-use property are now in line with the latest requirements of modern tenants.
One of the results is that the building’s energy label has jumped from the lowest rung (G) to virtually the highest possible ranking (A++). This is all the more extraordinary given that the low-rise part of the complex has monumental status. By connecting it to a thermal storage system, insulating the facade and roof, installing solar panels, new windows and LED lighting, WTC Rotterdam is now future-proof and generates a higher return, both socially and financially.
Bas Jochims: 'By making the building more sustainable we have been able to contribute to the Netherlands’ climate objectives as well as reduce our tenants’ energy bills. The WTC’s competitive position has improved significantly, which is reflected in the higher occupancy levels. We continue to invest in the future and make improvements based on our strategic vision: we don’t wait until a lease has expired. The larger market players have so far been very enthusiastic. They have their own sustainability goals and see an opportunity to achieve them together with us. Our Paris Proof programme also proves that we deliver on our promises.'
‘Paris proof’ by 2045
Bouwinvest’s commitment to meeting the climate targets and becoming ‘Paris Proof’ by 2045 is five years earlier than stipulated in the Paris Accord, Micha Reusen, Head of Sustainability and Innovation, at Bouwinvest commented: 'We started with our own climate commitment. After reviewing our portfolio, our shareholders, and the social contribution we want to make, we decided that 2045 at the latest was feasible, five years earlier than called for under the Paris Accord. This target is also in line with the ambition of the Dutch Green Building Council (DGBC), which aims to achieve the climate objectives well before 2050. An important advantage of the DGBC methodology is that it focuses on actual energy consumption and not the theoretical levels used for awarding energy labels. DGBC is also developing standards for Paris-Proof buildings which gives us a clear goal to work towards.'
An additional advantage of the 2045 deadline is that Bouwinvest can determine its own planning schedule and thus limit the possibility of being confronted with interim measures by regulators.
Bas Jochims: 'With the help and expertise of the Dutch Green Building Council and the Paris Proof community, we can link up our long-term ambitions with short-term actions. As an institutional investor, we want to make the right investments at the right time. Drawing up road maps for our portfolio has been very helpful in that regard. They have enabled us to use our maintenance budget to take measures to achieve our sustainability goals and have provided us with a starting point for discussions with our tenants.'
Collaboration is essential
Bouwinvest is largely dependent on the real estate market chain including external property managers such as CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, Colliers and MVGM to realise its sustainability objectives. Thanks partly to these partnerships and other efforts to make Bouwinvest’s buildings sustainable, the company can fulfill its promise to offer real value for life. Asset management thus contributes to a sustainable, liveable and accessible environment.
That the future looks sustainable and healthy is also apparent from Bouwinvest’s Real Estate Market Outlook 2022-2024, an analysis that the institutional investor draws up on a regular basis. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, more people are aspiring to a more sustainable lifestyle and feel a greater need for a green environment. Attractive brick-and- mortar buildings and accessible stores remain essential in our urban surroundings and Bouwinvest sees opportunities to focus even more on functional and sustainable construction that promote a sense of wellbeing.
Download market outlook 2022-2024
Bouwinvest has its own research department that combines information about its own portfolio with external market data. In-house specialists closely monitor local and global trends in the pension and real estate sector, conduct in-depth research and perform extensive data analysis at both macro and micro levels.