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EXPO Real: Some steep hills yet on logistics’ path to net zero

The logistics sector has had the wind in its sails for the last few years, but it still faces obstacles on the road to net zero, experts agreed at Real Asset Media’s Sustainable Logistics Real Estate briefing, which took place at the International Investors Lounge at EXPO Real recently. 

Tobias Kassner

“I would say we are mid-journey,” said Tobias Kassner, head of research, GARBE Industrial Real Estate. “It started three to five years driven by EU regulations, but now we see more pressure from investors to do the right thing.”

Frank Porschke

Investors tend to be more interested in sustainability than tenants, said Frank Porschke, CEO, P3 Logistic Parks: “Some tenants are very engaged, but others have a more short-term horizon.”

Interest in having photovoltaic panels on the roof of logistics assets has increased substantially and is now driven by the desirability of generating green energy given the increase in energy costs.

Hugo Willink

“We find the build-up of solar has been speeding up,” said Hugo Willink, managing director, Sunrock Germany. “Investors, developers and tenants are working together on this, because they all have sustainability targets.”

Costs are an important factor in the mix and can slow down the adoption of sustainable solutions.

Alexander Hoff

“Sometimes we move in circles rather than moving forward on the path,” said Alexander Hoff, founder & managing partner, Palmira Capital Partners. “People talk about ESG, but they are happy to have it as long as it doesn’t cost them anything.”

Cost saving is becoming more a priority, but another issue is getting used to new rules and new ways of doing things.

Robert Jedrzejowski

“The construction industry is very conservative,” said Robert Jedrzejowski, CEO, Pekabex Group. “For many it is difficult to get their heads around new solutions and change their habits. As a construction company we always calculate the CO2 footprint of every asset, but we find not many investors are interested yet.”

It is of course easier for new-builds to be ESG-compliant, but more attention should be paid to existing assets, which are the vast majority.

“It is imperative to take care of existing assets, however hard it is,” said Porschke. “We issued a €1 billion green bond this year and have committed to having 75% of our assets certified by the end of 2022.”