Energy Efficiency and Carbon Reductions in Operations
Letting homes is not a resource-intensive business. In contrast to the situation in the manufacturing industry, our business operations only account for a small part of our carbon emissions – around 3%. Nevertheless, we continuously seek out opportunities to increase our level of resource efficiency and reduce our impact on the climate and the environment in our internal processes. Our vehicle fleet, our tools and appliances, our own office buildings and the behavior of our employees all offer opportunities to make a difference, e.g., by transitioning the fleet to low-emission vehicles, using power-saving electrical appliances for work in neighborhoods, buying green power for office buildings and avoiding business travel and transport.
We completed a DIN EN 16247-1 energy audit in Germany in 2020. The areas that were identified for improvement can be applied to the entire Group due to the homogeneity of asset structures and consumption patterns at Vonovia. The audit found that Vonovia employees were highly aware of how to use energy efficiently. We use a number of energy-saving and resource-efficient measures in our offices, including LED lighting, motion sensors to turn lights on and off, and air-source heat pumps as an energy-efficient heating solution. We are also moving towards paperless offices.
Measures already implemented in the vehicle fleet:
- Fuel-efficient vehicles procured
- Transparency ensured by assessing consumption of individual vehicles
- Conversion to e-vehicles in Austria
- Training course on fuel efficiency for drivers/employees
- Use of electric vehicles for short trips
- Use of fuel-saving tires and engine oil
The company is also working towards using and generating energy in a manner which is better for the environment by switching all of the administrative buildings that it owns over to green electricity provided by VESG. This switchover will start on January 1, 2022, with around 60 sites concentrated in the South region. In the future, all of these sites will be supplied with carbon-free green electricity. All office locations of BUWOG in Austria have used certified green electricity (UZ46) since 2021. In addition to improving our carbon footprint, this also optimizes our internal processes. We want to roll this model out to other regions in 2022.
The vehicle fleet accounts for about three-quarters of emissions from our business operations. Vonovia has around 5,750 vehicles, the majority of which are used by our service technicians. This is therefore where we have the most leverage for reducing carbon emissions in our own processes. We continued the process of switching our fleet over to low-emission vehicles over the course of the year. Whenever possible, we provided innovative transport solutions based on small low-emission vehicles. The company limited the speed of its commercial vehicles to reduce emissions. We are also continuing to switch our fleet over to electric vehicles and are using more bikes and electric bikes. Electric vehicles are now available as company cars. We continued to add electric vehicles to our fleet in Austria. This allowed us to reduce the average emissions of our fleet from 221 in the previous year to 210 g CO2e/km. Average fuel consumption was 6.9 l/100 km (2020: 7.3 l/100 km). As a result, we reduced our overall fuel consumption despite increasing the size of our fleet by around 60 vehicles.
Our residential environment organization also made significant advances during the reporting year, and replaced around 1,000 combustion engine components with environmentally friendly battery-powered versions. The new appliances are highly recyclable and have the potential to significantly lower carbon and noise emissions, benefiting our tenants and improving the health of our employees.