…presupposes a sustainable society
Vasakronan wants to promote a society where all companies assume financial, environmental and societal responsibility. Which is why we work together with our stakeholders. We believe in working in partnership and that, together with our customers and suppliers for example, we can have a greater impact than if we drive each issue independently. We do this using a thoroughly sustainable approach.
Our sustainability initiatives are based on a framework comprised of the UN Global Compact; ten principles aimed at companies and concerning human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. We also base our efforts on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and have identified the goals that are material for our operations. We have two codes of conduct – one for employees and one for suppliers – which our employees and suppliers are required to follow. We also have an environmental policy that applies to all employees at Vasakronan:
We work together with our tenants to help them reduce their energy consumption. In 2010, we were the first in the sector to offer green leases, which means that we ensured the implementation of a number of tangible measures together with tenants. For example to reduce energy consumption and sort waste. Moreover, the tenants commit to choosing green electricity. Today, all our leases are green and measures that promote the environment are natural components.
We are also involved in many contexts to promote positive development, for example with the Sweden Green Building Council and Byggvarubedömningen. Vasakronan was one of the initiators when both these organisations were formed. We also subscribe to the UN’s climate initiative Caring for Climate, Klimatpakten i Stockholm and Uppsala klimatprotokoll as well as many different research and development collaborations.
During the year Vasakronan was ranked the most sustainable office company in Europe as well as number twelve globally by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark, or GRESB.
Our financial responsibility
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. Though never at the expense of the environment and people.
We assume our financial responsibility in several ways:
- We deliver the returns our owners expect to receive;
- We report our financial position in an open, transparent and relevant manner;
- We pay statutory fees and taxes; and
- We manage our financial undertakings and business agreements with suppliers, creditors and employees.
The overall, long-term financial objective is:
A return that, in relation to risk, is greater than the return our owners could obtain from other comparable investment alternatives.
To accomplish our assignment, we must create value in the business. This is achieved through good property management and development, and supplemented by active transactions. Our strategy builds on having attractive properties that match market demands, being a better landlord, being the preferred choice for tenants looking for premises, and having committed and dedicated employees.
Our environmental responsibility
Properties impact the environment throughout their lifecycle, from planning, design, construction and management to renovation and demolition. We therefore work systematically with a goal-oriented approach to reduce our environmental impact. We are climate-neutral and environmentally certified in accordance with ISO 14001.
Properties account for nearly 40% of energy consumption in Sweden. For this reason, we aim to reduce energy consumption at our properties by optimising operation and making energy investments.
We will achieve this by:
- Achieving levels well below those set out by the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning’s building regulations when we construct new buildings.
- Working together with our tenants to help them reduce their energy consumption at their premises.
- Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by using renewable energy and phasing out fossil-based energy.
- Producing as much electricity as we can ourselves to meet our electricity consumption.
Reduction in energy consumption
Together with our tenants, we have made significant inroads on reducing energy consumption at our properties since 2009. Five years ago, we started supplying our properties with climate-neutral heating and cooling as well as renewable electricity. In combination with the transition to renewable fuel, the reduced energy consumption means we have succeeded in reducing our GHG emissions by just over 95%. We compensate for the carbon dioxide emissions that have not been possible to eliminate by purchasing shares in Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects, which aim to reduce emissions by a corresponding amount elsewhere in the world.
Today we know that transportation contributes to climate change, local emissions, noise and congestion. For these reasons, we will reduce our transportation needs. We do so by replacing journeys with video conferences. Any remaining journeys or transportation must be conducted in an environmentally friendly manner. For example, by using rail instead of air travel, and by phasing out vehicles that use fossil fuels.
We require also our suppliers to reduce the number of shipments made on our behalf and for any remaining shipments to be conducted in an environmentally friendly manner. We help our tenants change their transportation and travel habits by 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.
Use of materials
The use of materials in our construction projects have a considerable impact on the environment. Therefore, we will reduce the amount of materials we use and primarily opt for reused materials or materials produced from renewable or recycled raw material. We intend to make greater use of wood as a construction material with the aim of reducing climate impact.
The building material that we use should not contain any hazardous substances that risk injury to people who spend time in the building or to the ecosystems outside. We use the Byggvarubedömningen system to obtain data on the components of a building product to enable us to select the right products.
We have listed the use of materials at our Hubben project. You can read the report here (Swedish).
Environmentally certified buildings
Environmental certification of 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.
We aim to environmentally certify all our properties. At the end of 2019, 85% of Vasakronan’s property portfolio was environmentally certified.
We primarily use LEED, which is an international system for certifying buildings. Properties are assessed from six main categories: energy, sustainable location, indoor environment, water efficiency and materials and resources.
Large amounts of waste arise in new construction and renovation projects, and a large portion of that waste currently goes to incineration or landfill. We also take care of large amounts of waste from our tenants’ operations, and most of the time, we are the ones who determine how well the waste is sorted since we are responsible for the waste recycling facilities at the property.
We will therefore reduce quantities of waste and ensure that as much as possible is recycled. We are building our efforts on the waste staircase:
- Reduce– wherever possible, we try to prevent any waste arising. For example, by not printing on paper unless necessary.
- Reuse– we try to reuse any waste that arises, for example by selling or donating.
- Recycle material – paper, corrugated board, glass and glass packaging are just a few examples of materials that can be recycled and transformed into new products.
- Energy recovery – combustible waste is a resource that can be use to recover energy and become electricity or heat. Organic waste can become biogas through anaerobic digestion.
- Disposal– waste that cannot be reused, recycled or used for energy recovery is taken care of, disposed of, in an environmentally correct manner.
Our responsibility to society
We take responsibility for the people who are affected by our business. This includes everyone who has conducted work on Vasakronan’s behalf and the people who spend time in and around our properties.
We want to be the most attractive employer in the industry and have satisfied employees who are content with their workplace and their personal development. We are an inclusive company that leverages different skills and opinions. We therefore aim to have an even gender balance and more employees with a foreign background. Our equal treatment policy means that no one should experience discrimination. Our operations are characterised by diversity and are free from xenophobia and harassment. 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.
We are one of the drivers behind the UUA project (universal design of workplaces). Our goal is to start the process for tomorrow’s offices, which will comprise inclusive workplaces that leverage people’s differences and skills.
People in and around our properties
We take responsibility for people who spend time in and around our properties by creating healthy, attractive and safe indoor environments and local surroundings. This pertains to good sound, light and air conditions as well as other factors that promote people’s health and well-being. Moreover, we strive to ensure our buildings and their surroundings are accessible to all people. No one should be excluded.
We set requirements for our suppliers stipulating that their employees – those who conduct work on our behalf – should enjoy a good working environment, work conditions and an environment that is free from discrimination. To ensure this is the case, all suppliers and the sub-suppliers must accept our supplier code of conduct.