Close cooperation with tenants is essential in order to make buildings sustainable, experts agreed at Real Asset Media’s briefing Investors & Tenants: Creating effective strategies for ESG & Impact, which took place yesterday at Provada in Amsterdam.
“We really need our tenants in order to be a more sustainable investor,” said Elise van Herwaarden, sustainability manager, ASR real estate. “With their input we can really improve all the buildings we have.”
Tenant engagement is essential in all sectors from offices to logistics and including residential.
“Tenants must be involved in the process to create healthy buildings that promote wellbeing,” said Robbert van Dijk, managing director eesidential, ASR Real Estate. “We upgraded 1,200 resi units, improving them substantially and making them sustainable, but however strong our motivation we could only do it by bringing tenants on board.”
The right tenant, who is informed, engaged and proactive, can make all the difference.
“We started renewable energy investments in our portfolio, which is a challenge,” said van Herwaaarden. “It is good to have really progressive tenants like Albert Heijn, the Dutch supermarket chain, because together we can create more sustainable buildings.”
Albert Heijn, who buy energy on a large scale, have been making “green” changes, such as installing solar panels on the roofs of their supermarkets.
Single tenants might be easier to work with than multiple occupiers with different views.
“In multi-tenant buildings it is harder to get tenant engagement,” said Pieter Vandeginste, fund director, ASR Real Estate. “We work hard on communication, letting them know the facts about energy use but also how they can change things by using the buildings in a sustainable manner.”
Renewable energy can be more of a challenge for office buildings than for commercial or logistics assets, because it is difficult to put solar panels on the roof, so tenant engagement is even more crucial.
“Our tenant surveys show they’re very interested in sustainability,” said Vandeginste. “We focus on office buildings with green certifications located on public transportation hubs, so our tenants can actively reduce their carbon footprint by not commuting by car and they also get to work in a sustainable building.”
Investors and landlords need to be creative in their engagement and bring tenants on board with incentives as well.
“Information is key, so we use newsletters and tenant panels to discuss issues, but we also run competitions, with special awards for the tenants who use the least energy,” said van Dijk.