Skip to website navigation Skip to article navigation Skip to content

Performance on strategy

A page refresh occures when a subject is selected.

Skip article navigation.

Performance on sustainability

Highlights performance on sustainability 2021

  • Improved GRESB score by two points (total 90 points) and obtained a GRESB 5-star rating for the second time;

  • 100% of investments have GPR Building certificates, with an average score of 6.48 for the total portfolio; 

  • 100% green label portfolio, with an average NZEB2 score (Net-Zero-Energy-Building) of 161.7, average energy index of 1.02 (62.1% A label);  

  • Total of approx. 16,427 kWp solar power installed; 

  • 5.4% like-for-like reduction in energy consumption; 9.3% decrease in GHG emissions; 

  • 4,415 (25.0%) rental contracts with a sustainability clause; 

  • 82.1% of construction sites are registered under the Considerate Constructors (Bewuste Bouwer) scheme; 

  • 252 homes acquired in the mid-rental segment (€ 753 - €1,013); 

  • Coverage of 100% AEDs within six minutes walking distance; 

  • Signed DGBC Paris Proof commitment to become net-zero carbon before 2045; implemented Paris Proof roadmap in 2020.    

Focus on sustainability

The built environment consumes around 40% of the world’s energy and accounts for up to 30% of the world’s annual GHG emissions. Additionally, the building industry is a large user of raw materials. As a global real estate investor, Bouwinvest feels it is part of its responsibility to contribute to a CO2-neutral, sustainable, circular, resilient and healthy living environment, and to enhance stakeholder value by investing in sustainable real estate. Bouwinvest is convinced that its approach reduces risk, increases client returns and makes its real estate assets and portfolios more attractive.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors will continue to play a major role in the Fund's investment strategy. The Fund is targeting a net-zero carbon, nearly energy-neutral and resilient portfolio before 2045 (approx. 40 kWh/m per year). 

The Fund has set out clear targets for the reduction of its environmental footprint and improving its positive social impact. This will include an analysis of asset-level climate risks, including a plan of how to mitigate these risks.

To make a start, the Fund has formulated the following Paris Proof objectives for the mid term:

  • 2021-2030: A year-on-year 5% reduction in GHG emissions for the total portfolio (general and tenant consumption);

  • 2030: The portfolio has an average energy label A (NZEB2 <160 and energy index <1.0);

  • 2030: 50% of the Fund's homes are natural gas free.

In addition, the Fund devotes attention to the Dutch policy position on transitioning towards a circular economy in 2050, with the focus on the use (and reuse) of resources. The real estate industry needs to be transformed into a circular ecosystem. The Fund is committed to circular building projects.

The Fund also performed data-driven analysis related to physical climate risks, such as heat stress, flooding, heavy rainfall and drought. For the total portfolio, the Fund analysed what the impact of those risks is on its assets based on location. In 2022, the Fund will continue to analyse these risks based on asset characteristics and focus on how it can mitigate the risks.

The Fund supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Fund actively supports four SDGs, as presented below.

Highly sustainable Fund

For 2021, the Fund's goal was to continue to improve its sustainability performance and to improve its GRESB score to retain a 5-star rating, which is the highest rating. The Fund succeeded in retaining its GRESB 5-star rating, which puts it among the top 20% worldwide. The Fund also increased its overall score by two points, taking its total score to 90 points from 88 points in 2020. This resulted in a peer comparison position of 6th out of 10 in 2021 from 4th out of 9 in 2020.

The higher GRESB score was primarily the result of improvements in performance indicators. To retain its GRESB 5-star rating, the Fund will continue to increase its focus on performance indicators and maintain its focus on Policy & Disclosure, Stakeholder Engagement, Monitoring & EMS.

GRESB scores 2021

Investing in sustainable real estate

Sustainable buildings and investments

Sustainable building certificates show how the Fund performs in terms of sustainability at asset level and what further efforts it needs to make. The Fund uses internationally accepted sustainability certificates to measure and assess the overall sustainability of its assets. Benchmarks help the Fund to make informed business decisions to mitigate environmental, social and governance risks and enhance its long-term returns. Certificates such as GPR Building measure criteria that go beyond legislative requirements and provide the Fund with instruments to encourage more responsible tenant behaviour, such as cutting waste and reducing energy consumption.

The Fund uses GPR Building software to measure and assess the overall sustainability of its buildings. The GPR reports on five performance indicators: Energy, Environment, Health, Quality of Use and Future value, and assigns a score for each
performance indicator on a scale of 1 to 10. When used on existing buildings, GPR makes it very easy to identify potential quality improvements following sustainability-related measures. This in turn makes it very easy to compare various scenarios and the outcome of any measures, which enables the Fund to choose the most (cost) effective measures, both in terms of sustainability and the long-term return on investment.

The Fund aimed to achieve an average GPR score of at least 6.4 (with a coverage of 100%) by the end of 2021. By year-end 2021, 100% of the portfolio had received a GPR label, with an average score of 6.48 (2020: 6.46).

For the coming years, the Fund will focus on improvements to get a higher average score related to the GPR labels. The ambition is that all new-build properties the Fund acquires will have to have a minimum energy performance coefficient of 0.2 (BENG proof) and a GPR score of 8.0.

GPR scores (% of lettable floor space)

Green portfolio

The Fund's target was to have energy label A or better for 50% for the portfolio at the end of 2021. The Fund met this target in 2021, and had a 100% green portfolio, as all assets had an energy label A, B or C. The distribution of energy labels in the portfolio is shown below. Investment properties under construction are excluded from this overview. The Fund expects all these properties to receive an energy label A upon delivery.

In the Fund Plan 2022-2024 The Fund redefined its targets to 75% in 2024 to the effect that it was aiming to receive energy label A for at least 75% of the portfolio (NZEB2 150). The Fund will also continue to invest in its standing portfolio to reduce NZEB2 levels to a minimum of 150 and achieve a minimum average GPR score of 6.5 in 2024.

Distribution of energy labels by floor space (m2) in %

Environmental impact

Bouwinvest committed itself to the Paris Proof commitment of the DGBC. To become net-zero carbon (Paris Proof) before 2045, the company drew up a roadmap for the Fund. In 2021, the Fund implemented the technologies, measures and costs related to the implementation in its strategic maintenance plan for the coming years.

Energy consumption and GHG emissions

In 2021, as well as in 2020, the Fund had to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak, which resulted in a decrease in electricity consumption of 3.8% (2020: 4.5%) and 5.4% lower total energy consumption (2020: 4.3%), both on a like-for-like basis. GHG emissions declined by 9.3% due to the lower use of natural gas. Both the energy reductions and the lower GHG emissions are for common areas. The Fund purchases renewable electricity for common areas, while property managers are required to deliver energy-efficient alternatives for repairs and replacements based on the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) approach.

The Fund recalcuated the targets related to energy reduction. For the coming years, the target for energy reduction is on average 4% per year to bring the target into line with (international) climate goals (reduction of 95% in CO emissions in 2050 compared with 1990).

On-site solar panels (kWp)

Renewable energy production

The Fund has increased the generation of solar power, both for new properties and existing apartments and houses. The Fund almost achieved its goal for 2021 and has included more ambitious goals in its Fund Plan for 2022-2024. The goal in 2021 was to focus on the installation of more than 16,500 kWp of solar panels by the end of 2021. Starting last year, the Fund is fitting all existing apartment buildings and houses with solar power.

The Fund also retained the target for renewable energy generated by solar panels to 21,000 kWp by the end of 2024.

In 2021, the Fund recalulated its targets for the reduction of its environmental impact in the period 2022-2024. So far, the Fund is well on track to achieve the following goals:

  • Renewable energy: increase of renewable energy by 27% to 21.0 MWp;

  • Energy consumption: average annual reduction of 4% as from 2021;

  • GHG emissions: average annual reduction of 4% as from 2021;

  • Water use: average annual reduction 2%;

  • Waste: Increase recycling percentage.

Enhancing stakeholder value

Bouwinvest does its utmost to optimise long-term alliances with all of its stakeholders. It has methods and means in place to understand, meet and respond to its stakeholders needs and to engage with the issues that its stakeholders find important. In addition to this, Bouwinvest takes an active approach to raising environmental, social and governance awareness throughout the real estate industry, partly through membership of various real estate sector organisations, such as the Association of Institutional Property Investors in the Netherlands (IVBN) and the Dutch Green Building Council.

Improving client services and communications

Bouwinvest keeps its clients up to date on the Fund's activities and performance as well as the Dutch real estate market and important topics such as developments with regard to ESG developments (e.g. climate risk, regulation and involvement of the public side to the residential market). In 2021, apart from formal meetings such as the Annual Meetings of Shareholders, Advisory Committee meetings and quarterly conference calls to discuss the quarterly reports, Bouwinvest organised a (virtual) property tour and two separate client meetings on the topics of 'climate risk' and 'regulation of the residential market'. Moreover, Bouwinvest kept its clients updated via press releases and the 'Real Value for Life' newsletter.

In early 2021, Bouwinvest conducted a client survey among its investors resulting in a score of 7.1 (out of 10) for client satisfaction. This survey provided us with a lot of valuable feedback. One of the outcomes was that the Fund documentation needed to be updated. In a constructive dialogue with all shareholders, the Fund modernised its full set of fund documentation in 2021. Having made improvements in - among other things - liquidity, more say for the Advisory Committee and modern liability clauses, the Fund’s terms and conditions are now completely up to date. The new terms and conditions were formally adopted at the General Meeting of Shareholders on 14 September 2021. The new Fund documentation came into effect on 1 January 2022.

These and other actions will help Bouwinvest improve its client services and communications. Bouwinvest's ultimate aim is to achieve a steady long-term client satisfaction score of 7.5 (out of 10). In the second half of 2022, the organisation will conduct another client satisfaction survey to check if the various improvement initiatives have indeed improved client satisfaction.

Tenant engagement

The Fund has made the satisfaction of its tenants a major priority for the coming years, as an integral part of its wider ambition: to be more client-centric in its approach to all its stakeholders. The Fund wants to continue to improve the quality and efficiency of its processes, to optimise its contacts with its tenants and to take a more proactive approach to how to provide its services.

In 2021, the Fund again devoted a great deal of attention to the customer journey, including how to engage and communicate with its tenants. Obviously, 2021 was a very difficult year for many people following the continuation of the Covid-19 pandemic, as this created an enormous amount of uncertainty, as did government restrictions introduced to combat the spread of the virus.

In 2021, it was again necessary to reach tailor-made payment arrangements (rent deferrals) with the relatively small number of tenants who, in some cases related to Covid-19, found themselves in financial difficulties. This had virtually no impact on the rental income.

As part of continuous efforts to improve the Fund's services, the rental process was further optimised and digitalised in 2021, making it easy and simple for potential tenants to sign up online and sign their contracts digitally. The Fund also rolled out its ‘Living with Bouwinvest’ tenant portal and a client monitoring system. Tenants will be able to use this portal for the likes of repair requests, online payments, changes in personal details and the filing of complaints, whenever and wherever they see fit. This means tenants now have a single access point for all their queries and comments.

The Bouwinvest client monitoring system is fully up and running, and provides a full 360-degree client view, so the Fund knows what its tenants need and how it can optimise its services. This will enable the Fund to monitor all interactions with its tenants, including those between tenants and property managers. This will in turn give the Fund the information it needs to measure the performance of its property managers and agree new performance targets. It will also make it easier for the Fund to measure the impact of any improvement measures it takes based on the feedback from its tenant satisfaction surveys. On another front, the new system makes it easier to track any payment arrangement the Fund reaches with its tenants.

The Fund's tenants are pivotal stakeholders and in recent years the Fund has made a good deal of progress in terms of truly engaging and getting to know its tenants. In 2021, the Fund once again conducted an annual tenant satisfaction survey. Over 37% of the sample group of approximately 8,200 randomly selected tenants filled in the survey. The result was an overall score of 7.3, which meets the target of >7.0. Although the score equals the previous year's score, the industry benchmark score went down by 0.1% to an overall score of 7.1. Overall, the Residential Fund ended second out of ten participants in the benchmark. The Fund will use the results of the survey and the suggestions provided by its tenants to draw up and implement improvement actions and to improve its services.

Green rental contracts

As a part of its drive to continue to improve its current sustainability levels in the long term, the Fund believes it needs to address the ‘user effect’. By adding a separate appendix to the dos and don’ts for the use of its homes, the Fund wants to accelerate the realisation of its sustainability goals and ambitions. The Fund strongly believes that engaging its tenants in its efforts to increase the sustainability of its portfolio will make the Fund far more successful in the long run. 

The target for 2021 was to have a sustainability clause included in 20% of all rental contracts. By the end of 2021, the Fund was well on track, as 25.0% of all rental contracts now have a sustainability clause.  

Sustainable stewardship

Bouwinvest takes an active approach to raising environmental, social and governance awareness throughout the real estate industry. Bouwinvest encourages its partners to enhance their sustainability performance. Bouwinvest focuses on health & safety at construction sites, active participation (memberships) in industry associations and community programmes. To further improve the climate for real estate investments, Bouwinvest is an active member of boards and committees of sector, industry and cross-disciplinary networks such as NEPROM, IVBN, Holland Metropole, DGBC, INREV and the ULI.

The Fund's target is to have more than 75% of its construction sites registered under the Considerate Constructors (Bewuste Bouwer) scheme by the end of 2021. At the end of 2021, the Fund achieved its target, as 82.1% of its construction sites were registered with the scheme. This ensures that contractors deal with the concerns of local residents and address safety and environmental issues during the construction phase.


Bouwinvest was the first company in the Dutch real estate investment sector to contribute to the establishment of a national AED (automatic external defibrillator) network, which it is estimated could save up to 2,500 lives every year in the Netherlands. The use of an AED offers the highest probability of survival within the first six minutes after a heart attack.

The Fund's target was for all its tenants and communities to have an AED available within six minutes walking distance by the end of 2021. The Fund achieved this target by the end of 2021. The Fund is also planning to install AEDs at all new assets it adds to its portfolio.