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Sustainable property – Header image (photo)

Sustainable property and private sustainable mortgages

Impact measures

As well as offering green mortgages that incentivises households to reduce their carbon footprint, Triodos Bank and Triodos Investment Management finances new building developments and refurbishment projects for properties to reach high sustainability standards.

In 2016 Triodos Bank and Triodos Investment Management financed directly, and via sustainable property, approximately 7,200 homes and apartments (2015: 4,500) and about 310 commercial properties (2015: 310) comprising approximately 460,000m2 of office and other commercial space.

Triodos Bank also financed about 27,000m2 of buildings and brown field sites.

Sustainable property – Impact measures (graphic)

Our vision and activities

Percentage of our loans and investments in sustainable property sector and residential mortgages

Sustainable property – 18.6% of our loans to the sustainable property sector (pie chart)

Loans and investments by subsector

Sustainable property – Lending by subsector (pie chart)
% derived from data at the time of publication

Our vision on sustainable property and private sustainable mortgages

Buildings consume 40% of all energy that is produced in the EU and contribute a similar proportion of Europe’s carbon emissions. If we are to make the transition to a genuinely sustainable economy, we need to address how we build and maintain buildings.

High-tech sustainable developments

Technologies and techniques are available to build new properties using sustainable materials and design. These buildings consume much lower amounts of energy and emit less carbon, making a major impact on a traditionally highly carbon inefficient industry. This presents an exciting opportunity for Triodos Bank to be part of building the future.

Preserving the old, updating the new

The majority of buildings around us today are still likely to be here in 50 years’ time and many historic buildings will continue to be preserved for the cultural role that they play.

For existing properties, renovation and retrofitting projects can dramatically improve the sustainability of a building – including insulation measures, low-energy lighting and heating, advanced control systems and low-energy appliances. The way in which a property is used also plays a huge role in its overall impact; for example, the degree to which an office building is kept fully occupied and uses telecommunication technology such as videoconferencing to reduce business travel.

Our activities

Triodos Bank finances new building developments for properties to the highest sustainability standards. We also finance the renovation or redevelopment of existing properties so that they become more energy efficient.

A sustainable roof over your head

Some branches also provide mortgages to private individuals, in particular incentivising high sustainability standards and support those seeking to improve the sustainability rating of their home.

Case studies

2016

Futurn
 

Futurn is a project developer that focuses on creating new spaces by redeveloping under-utilised sites via decontamination, demolition, renovation and new building work. With its Westgate project, Futurn is redeveloping an old printworks site at Brussels' West gate. The project involves the development of a multipurpose business park on the printing company’s existing site as its activities gradually decrease over the next three or four years.

Which challenge was the inspiration for your project?

Land is very scarce in Belgium. So we need to be creative with the land that’s available. That also means: more companies in fewer square metres. Old industrial sites are not attractive because the buildings and design no longer suit the needs of today's businesses. The risk is that they remain empty as a result, creating a local eyesore. But, in reality, there is plenty of potential in these sites.

The market context is competitive, which means we need to make sure that our redevelopment projects are equivalent to our competitors’ in terms of price and quality.

What was so innovative about the way this problem was addressed?

Redeveloping old industrial sites is a great challenge for project developers because they can be very complex in terms of all the technological, environmental, conceptual, architectural, fiscal and legal issues that are involved. Complex projects that involve some risk have many aspects that require an innovative approach.

We go into great detail examining the quality of the buildings, in order to see whether they can be recycled - down-cycling you might say. Certain demolition materials are recycled in our projects. We also look for additional value in up-cycling: how can we use the buildings in new ways, give them a new home, a new purpose, to suit the future economy.

Finally, we also try to put more content into our project by mixing functions. We use both roads and infrastructure, and consider the aesthetics and architecture of a building in the context of its surroundings.

What was the impact of the company or organisation on the sector in which it operates?

Our business model allows us to accommodate more businesses in a smaller space. This creates a context in which companies can work together more closely, because they form a kind of business community within the project.

We notice that authorities often regard our projects as a reference and promote redevelopment wherever possible.

What was the impact of the company or organisation on the community?

Futurn tries to involve the local community in each of its projects. We sometimes use cultural events and sometimes we opt for events geared towards young people or sports. That way we create a positive attitude towards the project.

What was the impact of Triodos Bank on the company or organisation?

Triodos Bank’s focus on sustainability challenges us to go further in this direction.

How does Triodos Bank share the vision behind the project?

Triodos Bank appreciates the essence of Futurn's business model. In particular the recycling of existing industrial sites to protect and benefit from scarce space.

Arroyo Bodonal
 

What challenge was the inspiration for this project?

Tres Cantos is the youngest municipality in the Madrid area, having been officially established in 1991. And it is where, in 2003, the Arroyo Bodonal cooperative came into being, when a group of local young people decided, with their parents, to develop a building comprising 80 homes using sustainable and energy-efficient criteria so they could continue to live in the town where they grew up.

The social motivation of these families was closely linked to their environmental motivation, “although at first some people said to us that energy efficiency was synonymous with a luxury home,” admits Antonio Martínez, the secretary of Arroyo Bodonal. Nevertheless, they soon proved that “sustainable housing is sellable”. All 80 residences in the development were purchased shortly after being put up for sale, with significant energy-saving and economic results.

What was your innovation that addresses this problem?

This housing project includes the use and control of alternative energies, such as geothermal energy for the heating and air conditioning system and LED lights. Coupled with its insulation system, all of these measures make for an energy saving of over 531,000 kWh. The reduction of the building’s CO2 emissions amounts to 150 tonnes a year, “the equivalent of withdrawing 137 petrol-run cars every year or planting 58 hectares of forest - over 23,000 trees”, according to Arroyo Bodonal.

The building has kinetic recovery lifts and a system for grey water and rainwater reuse that saves around 7,000 m3 of water every year.

The garage, for example, includes battery recharging points for electric cars, contributing to cleaner air. All of the collective lighting uses LEDs, the electrical appliances in the homes are A+++ rated for their high energy efficiency, the lifts work using static accumulation (they consume energy as they go up and accumulate part of that energy as they come down). The ventilation system, which is tailored to each residence, allows for cooling or heating of the air that enters depending on the external temperature.

What impact has Triodos Bank had on your business?

“Triodos Bank did what no other bank had done. Apart from analysing the economic side of the initiative, like any other bank, they audited the project technically to check that it was in line with their goal of sustainability”, explains the secretary of Arroyo Bodonal. “I admit that I did not know about them, but when I contacted their people, I changed my banking philosophy”, says Martínez.

The construction of the development was possible thanks to the contributions of the members of the cooperative and EUR 15 million of finance from Triodos Bank. It also provided access to sustainable mortgages for its residents. The cooperative developers proudly state that “Arroyo Bodonal did not receive a single cent of aid from any public or private institution”.

What impact has your business had on the sector you work in?

This building project represents the largest geothermal energy installation in the municipality of Madrid. It’s also the largest residential project of its type in Europe in terms of the number of homes, the power required for them and the surface area of the building. The success of this development has proven to the entire sector that it is possible to build in a different way, to the highest standards of energy efficiency and without an excessive cost overrun; and all for private housing that are ot necessarily luxury homes or in the countryside. The results of the monitoring of energy consumption confirm the sustainability of the project and position it as a model within the sector.

“This is an emblematic work not only on a regional and national level, but also within Europe”, say the cooperative members, because until now geothermal resources have only been applied to smaller buildings in Spain. Geothermal resources as an energy source meet just 0.03% of Spain’s housing’s energy needs, as opposed to 30% in countries like Sweden.

With regard to energy efficiency, the residences have been awarded the A rating. They meet LEED international sustainability certification. Indeed the USGBC (US Green Building Council), which manages LEED certifications, has awarded the building a LEED Platinum rating.

The building won the prize for best energy-efficiency real estate initiative in the country in 2016, from ASPRIMA (Asociación de Promotores Inmobiliarios de Madrid – Association of Real Estate Developers of Madrid). It was also recognised as the best geothermal installation in the construction of a private building in the municipality of Madrid, an award of the Regional Ministry for Industry and Economy.

What impact has your business had on the community?

The direct impact on a local level of the Arroyo Bodonal cooperative is the one it makes on the 80 families who live in this building. More than 80% of the buyers of the residential development are people from Tres Cantos who are under the age of 40 and who were having difficulties finding a home in their native town. The cooperative has given them an opportunity to enjoy a residence which also incorporates the very highest standards of sustainability.

The residences have an average surface area of 100 m2. The average monthly cost of energy per occupied home, for the supply of hot water, heating and air conditioning and maintaining a temperature of between 20 and 24ºC throughout the year, is around 40 euros.

The economic saving given the level of comfort these homes amounts to 130,000 euros a year for the building as a whole, or about 155 euros a month for an average home.

How does Triodos Bank share your vision?

Triodos Bank believes it is necessary to boost sustainable construction in sectors like banking. The sectors it is interested in include the environment, an area which encompasses different public or private initiatives. The bank finances housing developments that stand out for their sustainability or social approach. It also offers residents the chance to take out a Triodos Mortgage (Hipoteca Triodos), as in the case of Arroyo Bodonal in which, given the A+ energy rating of the homes, the buyers benefitted from a lower interest rate on their mortgage.

2015

KlimaatGarant
 

Sustainable property – Case study (photo)

Wim van de Bogerd, CEO KlimaatGarant

What challenge was the inspiration for your project?

Buildings, including residential homes, are responsible for a large part of the world’s total CO2 emissions. And CO2 emissions directly contribute to damaging climate change. At KlimaatGarant we are motivated by the belief that by building efficiently and sustainably using existing techniques, we can provide energy-neutral homes and limit CO2 emissions to a very large extent.

What was your innovation that addresses this problem?

Klimaatgarant develops energy-neutral homes and communities. Through heat cold storage, and optimal insulation and ventilation we guarantee a ‘zero’ bill for heating, ventilation and tap water; no energy costs, except for the use of household appliances. Our systems derive their power from solar roof panels.

Traditional energy providers aim to sell as much energy as possible. That is the big difference with our model: we sell ‘zero energy’. We guarantee that houses are energy neutral. We first reduce the energy use as much as possible and then meet the remaining energy need as sustainably as possible. We use concepts and techniques that have proven themselves in thousands of homes already. We own the installations, and the home owner rents them from us.

What impact has Triodos Bank had on your business?

With finance from Triodos Bank we were able to kick-start this energy neutral project. Through it we can provide energy efficient houses to starters on the housing market.

On a more personal level, we are proud of the recognition our work as winners of the Triodos Heart-Head award. We will use the prize money to develop an energy measurement app; we are convinced that if you have more insight into your energy use, this will stimulate you to reduce it further.

What impact does your business have on the sector you work in?

We create awareness; we show that it is possible to build energy-neutral homes. A growing number of municipalities and project developers believe in our concept. We think that within three years, all newly built houses will be energy-neutral.

What impact does your company have on the community?

Our impact is on the environment first and foremost, and specifically how we contribute to reduce CO2-emissions. In a broader sense, our impact is that we make people aware by showing it is possible to build energy-neutral homes.

How does Triodos Bank share your vision?

Triodos Bank and KlimaatGarant both work towards a more sustainable society. We are both trying to counter the adverse effects of the use of fossil energy – climate change, amongst others – by stimulating the use of renewable energy and by stimulating the efficient use of energy.

Vuurtoreneiland
 

Sustainable property – Case study (photo)

Raphaël Nouwen, senior relationship manager SME

What challenge was the inspiration for your project?

Vuurtoreneiland, or lighthouse island, is a 300 year old, artificial island in the Markermeer lake, close to Amsterdam. A stone lighthouse was first built on the site in 1700. The current wrought-iron one is from 1893 and is still Amsterdam’s only lighthouse. The island also has a lighthouse keeper’s house and an abandoned fort. The fort is part of the old Amsterdam defence system and is on the UNESCO world heritage list.

To retain the island’s unique natural historic value, the Forestry department, that owns the island, issued a public European tender in 2012 to develop the island commercially. The income from the commercial activities should finance the conservation and maintenance of the landscape and the listed buildings. The Forestry department also wants to open the heritage site to the general public so that everyone can enjoy it.

Two young entrepreneurs saw this as an exciting challenge and submitted a unique plan to the Forestry department. It started with a pilot project in which they ran a pop-up-like construction and a small-scale restaurant for one summer. Visitors were ferried across to the uninhabited island, where organic and regional dishes were served in an idyllic setting. It was a resounding success and they’re now already into their fourth year with the full support of the Forestry department.

What was your innovation that addresses this problem?

The entrepreneurs succeeded in making this a unique island experience, connecting conservation and the experience of nature and the island’s special buildings.

They use the income from the restaurant to maintain and manage the landscape, the fort and the lighthouse. Conscious and sustainable choices were made to generate electricity. ‘Heat the people not the place’ is an old concept where instead of heating entire spaces, only areas which have people in them are heated. For example, in the restaurant, only the space under the tables are heated. The chairs are covered in sheepskin and wood from the island is used in the venue’s hearths.

What impact has Triodos Bank had on your business?

Triodos Bank has contributed towards the conservation of this extraordinary island. Its finance additionally ensured that the island could be open to the public, where people meet and are able to enjoy a piece of wild nature with roaming animals and rare flora, very close to the city.

What impact does your business have on the sector you work in?

Vuurtoreneiland is a source of inspiration for other re-zoning projects. The combination of the different and divergent aspects of sustainability with a small-scale organic catering facility makes this project unique and an attractive example for the sector.

What impact does your company have on the community?

People from Amsterdam and beyond visit the island to escape from the daily rat race and experience nature. As well as employing a small number of people locally It is also very important that, with the arrival of a commercial party, the natural and cultural-historic value of the island is conserved for the future.

How does Triodos Bank share your vision?

Triodos Bank finances sustainable projects that put people, the environment and society at their heart. This multidisciplinary vision is shared by the people who have developed the lighthouse island. After three successful seasons, Vuurtoreneiland has proven how entrepreneurs can combine commercial activities in a vulnerable environment in a sustainable way.

Methodology

Our calculations only measure the homes, apartments and properties with a direct relationship to our finance or investment. Commercial or professional properties include: office buildings, hotels, warehouses, student rooms owned by a promoter, etc.

We include 100% of the impact when we co-finance a project and exclude properties coping with structural (long term) vacancy. If it is not possible to record 100% of the data required, we use conservative estimates.