Seal of quality for sustainability: greenproperty
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Seal of quality for sustainability: greenproperty

With the development and introduction of the "greenproperty" quality seal in 2009, Credit Suisse Asset Management's Global Real Estate unit set the stage for more sustainability in real estate. For the past ten years, the quality seal has served as a guide to making long-term investment decisions.

In 2009, the creation of the greenproperty quality seal represented the first internal standard for appraising newly constructed buildings in the Global Real Estate portfolio based on criteria of sustainability. The certificate was meant as a response to the question posed by Global Real Estate concerning how the company, as one of the largest property builders and owners in Switzerland, intended to live up to its responsibility to future generations. Even then, reducing CO2 emissions was one of the most urgent challenges for which possible solutions needed to be found. The need was especially urgent considering the fact that buildings consume 40% of primary energy worldwide and that they are responsible for roughly one-third of the total CO2 produced by human beings simply through the act of maintaining them.

Human beings and their daily behavior are an important factor in the sustainability of buildings. They can make a significant contribution to preventing CO2 emissions. Conversely, it is also important that people's needs for comfort and functionality not be neglected when considering aspects of sustainability. That goes for tenants who desire to feel comfortable when at home. It applies to workers who can be inspired and motivated by the benefits of office spaces and retail properties designed with sustainability in mind. It applies equally to investors, whose primary focus is on the building's profitability and the return on their investment. The market value of sustainable properties remains ̈high and stable for their entire useful lives. Their energy efficiency reduces expenses and serves as a hedge against possible increases in energy prices. What's more, analyses show that sustainability also pays off directly. For instance, according to Immo-Monitoring, the real estate report by Wüest Partner, the best level of compliance with the MINERGIE standard results in a premium of 6.5% on top of the net rent for investment properties.

Convinced of the significance of the quality seal and the importance of sustainable construction, Global Real Estate also launched Switzerland's first real estate fund primarily dedicated to investing in certified properties at the same time in 2009. The CS REF Green Property Fund gives investors access to a diversified portfolio of sustainable properties in economically strong locations in Switzerland (see also "Gleis 0 (Platform 0) in Aarau. Sustainable living and working.").

More comprehensive than others standards

The greenproperty quality seal was developed by Global Real Estate together with the renowned engineering and planning firm Amstein + Walthert. Certification with the greenproperty seal is based on SIA Standard 112/1, "Sustainable Architecture – Building Construction," and established MINERGIE standards for energy efficiency of buildings. Consequently, the MINERGIE®, MINERGIE-P®, MINERGIE-ECO®; and P-ECO® labels are fully or partially integrated into the standards of appraisal under the three greenproperty quality seals: gold, silver, and bronze. Many MINERGIE standards also contain criteria for exclusion, which are also applied during greenproperty certification.

Suddenly, saving energy had nothing more to do with freezing or sacrifice. Today, it's all about building well. This new awareness is a major achievement of MINERGIE.

Heinz Tännler, former president of the Minergie Association and member of the Cantonal Council in Zug

To satisfy the holistic standards a property must meet in every detail, the certification process involves evaluating five aspects of sustainability: a property's utilization, infrastructure, energy consumption, materials used, and life cycle. These five dimensions are composed of a total of 35 criteria, such as biodiversity, availability of public transportation, and the recyclability of materials.

During an appraisal, the results are calculated as subtotals, with their levels of achievement clearly illustrated using a spider diagram. This approach makes the greenproperty quality seal the most precisely differentiated and objective method of appraisal in Switzerland. Amstein + Walthert and Wüest Partner, a leading consulting company specializing in the construction industry and real estate market, were tasked with performing external certification of these criteria. Both are internationally regarded for their expertise and independent evaluations.

Phases of certification

Certification begins with the submission of all documents and materials, initiating the preliminary review. After all, it is during the planning stage that crucial decisions are made for successful achievement of the sustainability goals. With the start of construction, a provisional certificate is issued. Definitive certification is granted by the greenproperty association upon completion of building acceptance.

While in operation, the building's energy consumption data is collected annually, and operations are optimized whenever called for. The 60 largest properties in the Global Real Estate portfolio with correspondingly high consumption – as well as practically every property in the CS REF Green Property Fund – are even constantly monitored online via the Siemens Advantage Operation Center (AOC). If need be, measures can be taken quickly to optimize efficiency.

Forward thinking is en vogue

A referendum held among Swiss voters in May 2017, in which they approved the country's new energy law and, with it, the Energy Strategy 2050, shows how visionary the development of the greenproperty quality seal is – especially in combination with the introduction of the Minergie standards. The law obligates the country to promote investments in renewable energy, reduce energy consumption, and increase energy efficiency. It is a clear commitment to environmental protection and sustainability – one that very closely mirrors the energy strategy adopted by Global Real Estate in 2009.

We are proud to have been the co-developers of a quality seal as significant as greenproperty.

Andreas Huterer, partner at Amstein + Walthert, Consulting & Engineering

Adapting the requirements

To enable the greenproperty quality seal to continue setting new standards in the future, the criteria for certification are continuously adapted. Societal changes are also incorporated into its evaluation. Revisions to the quality seal are already expected in April 2019.

Today, the strategy for certifying new residential, office, and retail buildings is applied to all Swiss real estate products in the Global Real Estate portfolio. For investors, the seal creates confidence in the future of their investments – and rightly so. More than 100 properties so far have been awarded the definitive greenproperty seal. The green properties have a total market value of CHF 6 billion and rising.

The distinction between the individual certificates represents a broadly and precisely allocated spectrum of sustainability levels. Each and every single criterion is an accomplishment that can be highlighted and serves as encouragement to further improve a building's sustainability.

  • The greenproperty gold quality seal
    These properties fulfill at least half of all five defined aspects. In addition, the properties are required to have MINERGIE certification, with selected MINERGIE ECO exclusion criteria being taken into account.
  • The greenproperty silver quality seal
    Properties must satisfy nearly half of all five aspects of greenproperty, and they must meet the Minergie Standard.
  • The greenproperty bronze quality seal
    Buildings must comply with 40% of four aspects of greenproperty and at least 25% of the fifth. The degree of fulfillment for any aspect may not be lower than 25%.

The greenproperty seal of quality is more comprehensive than other sustainability labels and encompasses five aspects: a property's utilization, infrastructure, energy consumption, materials used, and life cycle.

Novum – the magazine