Environmental and climate protection

Conserving natural resources and improving our environmental footprint

In October 2016, the European Union voted by a sizeable majority in favour of the Paris climate accord and, by doing so, overcame the decisive obstacle to achieving the world's first binding agreement to combat global warming. With this agreement, the global community has undertaken to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

We are keenly aware that the financial and housing industry generates not insignificant emissions and that these must be reduced significantly in order to stay below the 2°C limit. Our product and service portfolio contributes to reaching the global climate protection targets both directly and – via the efficiency advantages that automation and digitalisation produces for our clients – indirectly.

We also work constantly within the Group to conserve natural resources or, where this is impossible, to use them more efficiently (Link to "Sustainability at Aareal -> Efficient resource usage in our operations").

This depends critically on transparency, which is why we are investing in a high-quality, up-to-date data pool that we have checked and validated both internally and externally.

We need to know our own carbon footprint in order to be able to recognise the potential for optimisation and take the appropriate measures to cut enterprise carbon emissions. This is why we measure our carbon emissions every year and break them down by their source. We use the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) as the basis for capturing our emissions. This classifies greenhouse gas emissions into three different scopes.

What are scopes?

Scope 1 covers all emissions that are caused directly by a company's activities. This includes, for example, emissions from direct energy consumption in buildings (burning of gas or heating oil) or from the fuel consumed by the company's vehicle fleet.

Scope 2 covers indirect emissions, such as those resulting from sourcing energy or district heating whose generation elsewhere creates emissions.

Scope 3 emissions are an indirect consequence of business activities and are derived from sources that cannot be allocated directly to the enterprise. We currently track these for air travel, rail travel and rental car usage by employees.

We have created a detailed data pool and use this to capture enterprise-wide carbon emissions every year. In 2015, we further enhanced the transparency of the data by distinguishing for the first time between the location-based method and the market-based method when recording Scope 2 emissions. 

What is the difference between the location-based and the market-based method?

Accounting using the location based method is based on the average emissions intensity of the grids from which we source our energy. By contrast, the market-based method of accounting focuses on emissions that actually result from the electricity that the company has purchased using contractual instruments. For example, the green electricity that our German locations have sourced since 2014 produces far higher emissions according to the location-based approach than the market-based approach, because accounting is initially based on the average electricity mix in the grid. Since a large portion of the electricity generated in Germany still currently comes from conventional sources, the carbon emissions produced are also higher than those generated by green electricity on its own.  

We capture Group-wide energy consumption figures electronically at least once a year; this lays the foundations for our careful, environmentally friendly usage of natural resources. We use the data to plan and initiate energy efficiency measures and cut costs in a number of ways. Broken down by energy source, our Group-wide energy consumption figures also form the basis of our annual overview of our greenhouse gas emissions.

We use a variety of energy sources to meet overall energy requirements through the Group. These are used, for example, to heat our branches, to provide electrical energy (lighting, IT, servers, etc.) and to power company vehicles.