How we work sustainably
We sometimes say that we are not in the sustainability business. This, of course, is not the case.
We sometimes say that we are not in the sustainability business. This, of course, is not the case.
With that said, we do not have a dedicated unit that works with sustainability. Instead, we have chosen to integrate sustainability in our operating activities by engaging every one of our employees. Regardless of where they work in the organisation. We have an ambitious goal: to run our operations in a sustainable manner throughout: from economic, environmental and social perspectives. To achieve this, we all need to continually contribute.
As a basis for our ambitious goal, we draw on the mission as stated from our owners – the First, Second, Third and Fourth Swedish national pension funds – to deliver a high and long-term risk-weighted return without damaging the environment, people or the communities in which we operate. To achieve this, we need to do our utmost.
Doing everything we can to become more sustainable is a prerequisite for achieving our vision to create future-proof cities for everyone, where people and companies thrive.
Our efforts are based on an extensive analysis of our operations, where we have identified the aspects in which we have the most negative impact, how large this impact is, and what we need to do to reduce it. The analysis is based on, inter alia, the ten principles of the UN Global Compact, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as well as our stakeholders’ expectations. Read more about our materiality analysis and stakeholder dialogue in our Annual Report
Despite having worked systematically for over ten years to become thoroughly sustainable, and despite being ranked one of the most sustainable companies in the world by GRESB, the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark, we are the first to admit that we are not there yet. That is to say, we are not wholly sustainable. With that said, we set slightly more ambitious targets each year to reduce our negative impact and to increase our positive contributions. In this way, we ensure that we are constantly progressing toward our long-term goal: to become wholly sustainable.
Read more about our targets in different areas below and in our Annual Report. This also includes a review of the annual target attainments and of who in the organisation is responsible for what.
A prerequisite for achieving our ambitious goal is that we collaborate with our different stakeholders. We are convinced that collaboration has a greater effect than if we drive each issue independently. In light of this, Vasakronan has taken initiatives with several industry collaborations. These include Sweden Green Building Council , Byggvarubedömningen and Håll Nollan.
We also subscribe to the UN’s climate initiative Caring for Climate, Klimatpakten in Stockholm, Uppsala klimatprotokoll, Lokal färdplan Malmö 2030 as well as many different research and development collaborations with universities, colleges and the private sector.
Another important tool we use to come closer to our long-term goals is our codes of conduct – one for employees and one for suppliers – as well as a number of other policies that establish applicable principles in respective areas.
Vasakronan is one of the Swedish national pension funds’ investments and is owned in equal shares by the First, Second, Third and Fourth Swedish national pension funds. The assignment from the owners is to generate a high, risk-weighted, long-term return from Swedish properties that will benefit Sweden’s current and future pensioners.
We must create long-term sustainable value in the business. This is achieved through good property management and development of our properties, streets and areas, supplemented by active transactions. Our strategy builds on having attractive properties that match market demands, being a good landlord, being the preferred choice for tenants looking for premises, and having committed and dedicated employees.
Our financial responsibility includes managing our financial undertakings and business agreements with suppliers, creditors and employees and paying statutory fees and taxes. We must also report our financial position in an open, transparent and relevant manner. We do this in part with our interim reports and in our Annual Report. Clicke here to access the reports.
A crucial issue that will influence our long-term profitability is climate change. By evaluating and going through the possible effects that different climate scenarios will have on our operations, we have evaluated climate-related risks and possibilities, and adapted our strategy and our properties in light of these.
The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures’ (TCFD) recommendations on climate-related information are directed both to companies and to investors.
The aim is primarily to provide investors with information about the risks and opportunities entailed in a changing climate and a transition to a society with requirements for lower carbon emissions.
The recommendations are also intended to provide a description of the company’s governance and strategy regarding climate issues. Vasakronan has described its climate efforts based on the TCFD’s recommendations since 2017, with the aim of following them as stringently as possible. The description helps our stakeholders understand how our business will be affected by climate changes. The TCFD’s recommendations are categorised into four pillars: governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets.
The world is facing many challenges. The climate is undoubtedly the biggest. If we do not come up with climate solutions, we will also fall short with many other challenges. According to the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, the construction and property sector accounts for 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Sweden, a substantial proportion of energy consumption, and it also impacts the environment by creating a lot of waste that is not recycled or reused.
Vasakronan has been environmentally certified according to ISO 14001 for over 15 years. A fundamental analysis of our significant environmental aspects has been carried out in relation to these efforts. The analysis is regularly evaluated and consistently establishes that we primarily impact the environment and the climate through our energy consumption, use of materials, the waste that we and our customers create as well as the transportation related to our operations as well as those of our customers and suppliers.
Properties account for almost 40% of energy consumption in Sweden. This is why we are reducing our energy needs through operating optimisations of our existing properties and why we place very high demands on energy intensity when building or renovating.
We also strive to reduce our power requirements by, for example, being more flexible in when we purchase energy from the grid and through the storage capacity of our properties.
To further reduce our impact, we will phase out all fossil energy consumption connected to our properties and produce our own renewable energy.
We work together with our tenants to help them reduce their energy consumption at their premises. In 2010, we were the first in the sector to sign green leases, which means that we can work to reduce energy consumption together with tenants. This also entails that both parties commit to only using energy from renewable energy sources. Since 2017, all of Vasakronan’s leases are green and measures that promote the environment are natural components.
We have more than halved the energy consumption of our premises since 2009. Over the same period, we have also gradually transitioned to climate-neutral and/or renewable district heating, district cooling and electricity, resulting in a 95% decrease in our GHG emissions.
Large amounts of waste arise in our new construction and redevelopment projects, and a large portion of that waste currently goes to incineration or landfill.
Large amounts of waste are also created by our tenants’ operations. We also take care of the waste management of our tenants to maintain better control. Even though it can be difficult to influence the type and nature of the waste that is created by our tenants, we can still ensure that the waste is sorted and sorted well by maintaining responsibility for the system, space and equipment.
Regardless of whether the waste is generated by our own or our tenants’ operations, the overall goal is the same – to reduce quantities of waste and ensure that as much as possible is recycled. We are building our efforts on the waste staircase:
Transportation contributes to climate change, local emissions, noise and congestion. Our greatest impact is due to transportation related to our construction projects. Therefore, we also require our suppliers to reduce the number of shipments they make through smarter logistics, and that the shipments made are to be conducted in an environmentally friendly manner.
Another significant impact comes from our tenants’ travel and transportation to and from the properties. As such, we help our tenants change their transportation and travel habits with measures such as promoting improved public transport, installing electrical charging stations for electric vehicles, improving infrastructure for bicycles in and around our buildings, and by offering car pools.
We want to set an example. This is why we are also systematically reducing our own transportation needs. We are doing this in part by selecting smart locations for our offices. It should be easy to reach the office with public transport, and we are also replacing business trips with video meetings. Any remaining journeys or transportation must be conducted in an environmentally friendly manner. For example, by using rail instead of air travel for shorter distances, and by phasing out vehicles that use fossil fuels.
The use of materials in our construction projects has a considerable impact on the environment. And it takes large quantities of material for new construction and the maintenance of properties. In our Hubben project, in Uppsala Science Park, we charted how much material is actually required to construct a building. The project demonstrated that it took 1,018 kilos of material for every square metre that was constructed. A large proportion of these materials came from non-renewable natural resources. You can read the report here. (in Swedish)
Our goal is to reduce the amount of materials we use and primarily opt for reused materials or materials produced from renewable or recycled raw material.
The building material that we use must also not contain any hazardous substances that risk injury to people who spend time in the building or to the ecosystems outside. To obtain data on the components of a building product to enable us to select the right products, we use Byggvarubedömningen.
Having environmentally certified properties is important from several perspectives. Certification is proof from a third party that our properties have low environmental impact, which means we can meet our tenants’ growing environmental requirements. Environmental building certification is also a prerequisite for our financing with green bonds.
Our goal is to environmentally certify all our properties. We primarily use LEED, which is an international system for certifying buildings. Properties are assessed from six main categories : energy and atmosphere, sustainable sites, indoor environmental quality, water efficiency, and materials and resources. At the end of 2019, just over 85% of our property portfolio was environmentally certified, of which 72% was rated LEED Gold or higher.
For Vasakronan, the commercial benefits of reducing our climate impact are clear, and we do not see any conflict between profitability and sustainability. We conducted our first annual environmental report back in 2006, and since then we have reduced our direct emissions by over 95%. In 2008, we began to compensate for remaining emissions and, as such, became climate neutral in terms of our direct and indirect emissions in regards to energy consumption.
Now, we are raising our ambitions and have decided that we are to be climate neutral throughout the entire value chain. By 2030. Read more about our work for climate neutrality in our 2030 road map.
Our operations affect thousands of people. In particular, those who work for Vasakronan – both our employees and our suppliers. But we also affect all of the people that spend their time in and around our approximately 170 properties. Our operations are only sustainable if we ensure they have safe, sound and healthy work environments with good working conditions where nobody is discriminated against.
Work environment risks are present in all operations, but the size and severity of them can vary.
Our goal is to be the most attractive employer in the industry and have satisfied employees who are content with their workplace and their personal development. A poor work environment for our employees could lead to absenteeism and unnecessary human suffering. It could also lead to direct costs in the form of sick pay and to indirect costs in the form of loss of output for us as a company. When it comes to our own organisation, however, we can see that the risk of accidents or long-term illness is relatively small.
The risks are greater, however, for our construction and service contractors. Between 1,500 and 2,000 of the approximately 300,000 people who work in the Swedish construction industry are seriously injured each year. This is why we have joined the Håll Nollan initiative, a collaboration across industries with the vision that everyone should come home uninjured after a day at work. Read more about Håll Nollan’s initiatives for zero accidents in the construction industry. (in Swedish)
Feeling safe and secure in their local surroundings is important for everyone. As employers, our tenants want to ensure that their employees have a safe and secure workplace and a safe and secure commute. This is becoming an increasingly important issue for companies to consider when selecting premises. Even our store tenants depend on the environment around their stores being perceived as safe and secure. That is why we are continuously working with different measures to promote safety and security – everything from alarms and surveillance to the design of entire areas in which we work with elements like street lighting, landscaping and paving. We also have a number of partnerships with other players in the cities in which we are operations, for example, City i Samverkan and Centrum för AMP. (Swedish)
Most people spend a lot of time indoors, and the design of the buildings we spend our time in has a substantial impact on our health and well-being. Achieving this is about creating the right light, sound and air quality as well as working with the building’s physical design to promote movement and an active life.
Another important aspect for health and well-being is that the buildings are not comprised of building materials that contain hazardous substances or other substances that can harm a person’s health. As such, we are actively working to improve our tenants’ indoor environments.
Everyone has the right to be able to live their life without being discriminated – at work, home and in their free time. We have analysed the risk of discrimination as a result of our operations. The risk varies somewhat depending on what group of people it concerns.
However, as an employer, preventing risks is not the only thing we must consider. We also pursue our conviction that a business characterised by diversity and which is free from discrimination is more innovative and better able to conquer challenges than an overly homogeneous one. As such, we have strict targets that our organisation be characterised by diversity and is free from discrimination, xenophobia and harassment. Our own work with diversity and equal treatment is governed by our Equal treatment policy.
The physical design of areas and buildings can also lead to the risk that people face discrimination, despite laws and regulations being followed. We are convinced that our properties and neighbourhoods will be more sought after if we design them so that they are good for everyone, what is called universal design. As such, we are a driver behind the UUA project (universal design of workplaces). Our goal is for tomorrow’s offices to be inclusive, and to leverage people’s differences and skills. Read more about the project here. (in Swedish)
We also set requirements that no discrimination may occur at our suppliers. All of the requirements for our suppliers are summarised in our Supplier Code of Conduct.
Our Employee Code of Conduct includes an exhaustive description of how we behave toward each other, our tenants, our suppliers and other people who are impacted by our operations.
Corruption in the Swedish property and construction industries is regarded as being widespread and extensive. We must therefore have a process that eliminates the risk of corruption and other improprieties in all situations. The anti-corruption work pertains firstly to our efforts to prevent all forms of corruption within the company, but we also set requirements on our suppliers having a systematic process to counteract corruption in their operations. Infringements are not acceptable and may result in disciplinary measures, termination or legal proceedings.
There is also a whistle-blower function to make it easier for employees and those outside the company to report suspicions of corruption or other improprieties. Click here to read more about the whistle-blower function.