Sustainability Report 2018 published: Vonovia responsible for more than one million people
- New construction focusing on demand in conurbations
- Renovation rate promotes climate protection
- Neighborhood development strengthens social structures
- Diversity highlighted by share of trainees and female employees
Bochum, April 30, 2019 – Vonovia SE today published its fourth sustainability report, in line with the internationally recognized GRI standards. The report shows how the sustainability of a residential real estate company is determined by a large number of different aspects: climate protection and energy efficiency in housing stock, the provision of sufficient and affordable homes, responsibility for developing residential neighborhoods – all initiatives that are driven by a committed workforce.
“Our top priority is our responsibility for around one million people who are at home in our properties,” said Rolf Buch, Chief Executive Officer of Vonovia. “This explains why our activities are never focused exclusively on financial aspects, but also always take social factors into account.”
Answers to societal megatrends
Housing is at the center of current social discussion. Megatrends such as urbanization, demographic change and climate protection are creating major challenges for the business world and policymakers alike. The German Association of Professional Homeowners (GdW) estimates that an investment volume of € 800 billion will be necessary in the period leading up to 2030.
In Germany, at least 42 million apartments are on offer for around 83 million people. Vonovia’s portfolio includes just under 2 percent of Germany’s rented apartments. Although this is a long way off a position that could be described in any way as market control, the company is well aware of its particular social responsibility. “Vonovia acts as part of society. This means that we want, and indeed have, to be part of the solution,” said Buch.
In addition to affordability, the availability of homes, in particular, is a major issue. This is why Vonovia is focusing its efforts on building new apartments. Vonovia initiated the construction of more than 1,000 apartments in 2018, a figure that is set to rise considerably over the coming years. Buch: “The new apartments will not be constructed just anywhere, but where they are needed: in conurbations.”
Climate protection and improving the appeal of apartments
By contrast, acceptance of costly Optimize Apartments measures is on the wane. Vonovia has reacted to this trend. “Following extensive talks with our tenants, we have decided that we will no longer implement any modernization projects that result in additional costs of more than € 2.00 per square meter for them,” explained Buch.
Vonovia achieved a renovation rate of 5 percent in 2018. Every refurbishment increases the appeal of the company’s apartments, cuts heating costs and reduces CO2 emissions at the same time. This is the company’s way of supporting the German government’s target of achieving climate-neutral housing stock by 2050. In order to help achieve this, Vonovia is also active in the political arena, for example, through its involvement in the “climate discourse” project of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, KlimaDiskurs.NRW, or the dialog forum “Wirtschaft macht Klimaschutz” (Business Engages in Climate Protection). Vonovia is also involved in numerous research and development projects to improve energy efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions in housing stock.
When it comes to cutting CO2 emissions, Vonovia is using state-of-the-art energy concepts such as photovoltaics and electromobility. The company currently operates 211 photovoltaic facilities, a figure that it plans to increase significantly in the future. 450 apartments are also already being supplied with biomass district heating. In 2018, the CO2 emissions saved thanks to modernization work and new heating systems came to around 27,300 t CO2e.
A residential real estate company is responsible not only for buildings, but also for extensive green spaces. More than 660 of the Group’s in-house employees are now responsible for the rental and maintenance of around 40 million square meters of outdoor areas, 14 million square meters of lawns, 310 kilometers of hedges and 217,000 trees.
Car sharing and electromobility for tenants
Ever since mid-2018, tenants in numerous cities have been able to use an app to book car sharing services and collect their vehicle directly outside their front door. Particularly in larger towns and cities, tenants’ requirements regarding mobility are changing, with sharing economy ideas gaining ground. Many residents would rather do without a car of their own but still want to be able to use one as and when they need to. Vonovia has responded to this trend by incorporating car sharing services into the residential environment. Its partners are Flinkster, the car sharing network with the highest level of coverage in the German-speaking world, and the shared mobility provider MOQO HOME. The next step in this project will involve installing charging stations for electric vehicles in the car sharing parking lots. This has already started to happen with the installation of the first charging station of this kind in Essen.
Focus on neighborhoods
Vonovia believes that it is responsible not only for creating homes, but also for their further development. Neighborhood projects are being implemented across Germany – in collaboration with the municipal authorities, but also with charities and other social agencies. The aim is to promote neighborhood and social structures.
One example is the professorship for “Neighborhood development, in particular residential living within the neighborhood” that Vonovia sponsors at the EBZ Business School – University of Applied Sciences. The aim of this endowment professorship is to research which parameters contribute to successful and forward-looking neighborhood development and what role residential real estate companies can play in this process.
Employees as the backbone of sustainable corporate governance
Sustainable corporate governance can only be achieved with the help of employees with the right levels of motivation and commitment. This is why HR development is also covered by the Sustainability Report. Vonovia’s workforce grew considerably last year and the company plans to continue on this growth trajectory. The CEO only recently welcomed the company’s 10,000th employee. This means that the number of employees working for Vonovia has almost trebled over the last five years, both as a result of acquisitions and thanks to organic growth. The company plans to recruit 900 new employees this year, achieving organic workforce growth of almost 10 percent.
Training rate remains high
Vonovia recently increased its number of trainees again. At the end of 2018, the Group employed 485 trainees, with two-thirds of them completing craftsmen/technician traineeships. All in all, Vonovia is training new employees for 14 different occupations and dual-degree programs. In 2018, while the company advertised 121 craftsmen/technician traineeships, only 108 of these positions were filled. This means that the demand and the number of traineeships that the company is prepared to offer actually outstrip the supply available on the market.
Trainees who have a child or have to care for relatives can complete their training at Vonovia on a part-time basis. Three trainees are currently making use of this option.
Vonovia is also giving refugees the chance to integrate into the working world by completing a traineeship. 31 refugees had taken Vonovia up on this offer by the end of the year. They have access to special measures to prepare them for a career, as well as training and tutoring offers during their traineeship. The same applies to other trainees from migrant backgrounds, some of whom also require this sort of assistance.
The Group’s training rate recently came to 4.9 percent. This rate means that Vonovia remains among the top training companies among the Dax30 companies, many of whom have cut back on their traineeship programs. The rate is also well in excess of the latest values released by the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung), which put the rate for large companies at 4.2 percent in 2017.
Employees with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds enrich the company and will remain important in the future, too. The company’s workforce currently represents nearly 80 different nationalities. This is indispensable for the interaction of the company with its many tenants.
Strategy to promote women in leadership positions
Vonovia is aiming to further increase the proportion of women in management. At present, 37 percent of employees in management positions are female. The appointment of Helene von Roeder as one of four Management Board members in May 2018 sent out a visible external signal of the company’s commitment to this strategy at the very top management level, too. Last year, 110 out of 160 listed companies in Germany did not have a single female Management Board member. 20 of these companies do not have any women on their Supervisory Board either, according to the latest report released by the Allbright Foundation. At Vonovia, four out of twelve Supervisory Board positions are filled by women. This is the company’s way of showing the outside world, too, that an open working environment based on equal opportunities, in which diversity represents a particular strength, is a matter of course for it.
About the GRI standards
The international GRI standards for sustainability reports are published by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and constantly evolving. Both governmental organizations and NGOs such as environmental and human rights groups and not least the companies themselves are involved in the development of the guidelines. GRI was founded in 1997 with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme and has its registered headquarters in Amsterdam.
Vonovia's sustainability report only appears online. This is a contribution to the sustainable use of resources. The report is available online at: