Growing focus on sustainability is a ‘big advantage’ for CEE

Central and Eastern Europe has an edge when it comes to sustainability, delegates heard at Real Asset Media’s ESG – The new driver for CEE briefing, which was held online yesterday on the REALX.Global platform.

“I believe our commercial real estate has a big advantage and leverage compared to Western Europe because 90% of our buildings are ESG-compliant,” said Adrian Karczewicz, head of divestments CEE, Skanska Commercial Development Europe.

Adrian Karczewicz.

Poland and other countries in the region have seen large-scale development in the last few years, which means that most buildings are new and built with modern construction techniques. Western European countries, on the other hand, face an uphill battle with obsolete buildings and stranded assets.

The quality of a building is key, but what happens inside the building is equally important because ESG compliance is not a static thing but rather an everyday commitment.

“Embedded carbon clearly has a big impact, but the biggest focus should be on how a building is used, and in this occupiers have a big role to play,” said Karczewicz.

Tenants and landlords should work together on a continuous journey, being aware of what needs to be done and using all the features that are available in the best possible way.

Implementation of ESG is the problem in CEE

“In Poland and throughout CEE occupiers are aware of ESG issues but implementation is the problem,” said Monika Rajska-Wolinska, chief executive officer, CEE, Colliers. “They need support with transition management and new workplace solutions.”

The first step is awareness of the problem and willingness to deal with it. On this front much progress has been made, thanks to the prominence that ESG themes have had in public discourse and in the media.

The second step is working out a strategy and the third is implementing the strategy. These two subsequent steps need a wealth of data to base decisions on, collaboration to turn decisions into actions, and technology to make those actions work.

“We need to be provided with reliable data so we know what needs to be done and we can tell investors how much it will cost,” said Georg Schattney, group head of ESG/sustainability officer, Corestate Capital Group. “At the moment a €20,000 car produces more data than a €20 million real estate asset. That has to change.”

Technology is coming to the rescue and providing solutions.

“Digital technology and the new business models that come with it can address ESG issues,” said Elisa Rönkä, global head of SaaS Sales – Digital Buildings, Siemens Smart Infrastructure. “In a recent survey 47% of executives said ESG is the main driver for their investment in cloud solutions, which is a clear sign of what a focus sustainability now is.”