The subject of sustainability has been on the agenda in the real estate industry for many years. It is one of the megatrends of the future that is already influencing the real estate industry. However, there is still some catching up to do in terms of implementation.
Study on the EU taxonomy
The German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) carried out a study on the EU taxonomy to determine the extent to which the European Union’s taxonomy criteria are met in the real estate industry. This was implemented together with partners from Denmark, Austria and Spain in eleven European countries and in 62 projects of various building types. The result of the study was very clear, because the German Sustainable Building Council emphasized that there is an urgent need to catch up in the real estate market when it comes to fulfilling the taxonomy criteria. These were set by the European Union. The reason given is the inadequate availability of the necessary data, which would have enabled precise verification. As a result, only one of the total of 62 participating projects was able to demonstrate full taxonomy compliance. The data gaps that existed in almost all projects were particularly large for residential buildings and larger real estate. Commercial real estate and smaller buildings had a better foundation. It was noticeable that certified buildings were able to demonstrate their conformity more frequently, i.e. are better prepared for the requirements of the taxonomy.
Objective of the study
The aim of the study was to examine the marketability and applicability of the taxonomy criteria on the basis of real projects. The study was carried out last autumn. Of the 62 buildings, 36 were assigned to the area of “acquisition and ownership”, 22 new buildings and four renovations. There were separate questionnaires for the three different areas. The projects examined are spread across 23 companies. These included seven project developers, six pension funds and six investment and asset managers. The study was carried out by the DGNB in cooperation with the Green Building Council España (GBCe), the Austrian Society for Sustainable Real Estate Management (ÖGNI) and the Green Building Council Denmark (DK-GBC). In detail, the projects should be examined with regard to their existing certifications through added value to achieve the requirements and to facilitate documentation. Concrete recommendations based on the study results are also to be sent to the EU Commission for further developing the criteria.
A sobering result
According to the authors of the study, however, not only were there difficulties in meeting the criteria of the required requirements, but also considerable differences between the individual projects were found. Accordingly, more than half of the newly built properties meet the requirements to more than two thirds. In the area of “acquisition and ownership”, however, the value is less than 15 percent. This result makes it clear that there is still a lot of catching up to do when it comes to obtaining information in the area of purchasing processes and asset management. The greatest problem in the implementation of the projects is said to have been presented in particular by the “Climate Change Mitigation” criterion. Because under the criterion of “Climate Change Adaptation”, the adaptation of the different building types to the content-related requirements of global warming turned out to be the most difficult.
The future prospects
The study shows that the topic of sustainability has been neglected for too long within the real estate industry, so that some now have some catching up to do. The results of the study are only good news for those who have already dealt with the certification in advance. The study has now shown how real estate investments can be assessed using taxonomy and has shown that better preparation is often necessary for the future. It was also shown that many of the market participants are not yet adequately prepared for the EU taxonomy and that the buildings have so far been able to achieve the necessary quality or only barely. But there is still a lot of catching up to do in terms of information provision, in order to ensure more transparency and to keep costs as low as possible.
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