GRESB/BREEAM Individual Leadership Award
Derk Welling, Senior Responsible Investment & Governance Specialist
In his current role at APG Asset Management, Derk encourages real estate companies (both listed and non-listed), REITs and funds to use e.g. BREEAM in Use as an asset management tool for existing assets. Since, for Derk, BREEAM in-Use is not about certification, but is rather an asset management tool. It facilitates continuous improvement and ensures that assets stay ahead of legislation. The system helps to inform asset managers to allocate the required budgets in the asset business plans and set long-term targets in terms of BREEAM in-Use.
He also challenges GRESB to rely more on certified asset level data, as this contributes to improved data quality. He welcomes and promotes automated data exchange between certification bodies and GRESB. This would reduce the workload related to completing the GRESB survey. He frequently engages with various certification bodies to encourage harmonization of these schemes.
In 2007 Derk selected BREEAM as the preferred certification scheme when he joined Redevco, a pan-European Real Estate Investment Manager. There he was responsible for sustainability of the assets under management. The benefit of BREEAM, compared to other certification schemes, is that it can be adapted to national/local legislation and conditions. In 2008, he initiated, as member of the ICSC Sustainability Committee, the development of a pan-European BREEAM Retail Scheme, which was delivered in October 2008. He was also co-founder of the Dutch Green Building Council (DGBC), which introduced BREEAM in The Netherlands. Since then, BREEAM has become the leading certification scheme in The Netherlands.
At Redevco, he was responsible for the development and execution of the sustainability strategy. This strategy included the certification of all assets under management (more than 400 assets in 11 countries) with BREEAM in Use by the end of 2016. This made the company the top retail certification holder in Europe (link). To maintain certification on such a scale, he initiated the development of a new approach for large portfolios. Inspired by financial audits, the proposed methodology would no longer require revisiting by an assessor every three years for certificates to remain valid. Instead, each year a random sample of the portfolio would be selected for audit. This comes with a substantial cost reduction, without jeopardizing the robustness of the scheme.
“Building certificates and BREEAM are important precisely because they are not certification for certifications sake. I believe the starting point should never be the certification, that’s just proof you’re doing what is right.
Whether we are looking at a new development or enhancing an existing building, our approach is the same; deliver the highest standards and performance. A certification is the route to help us demonstrate that. I work with several certification schemes to ensure they are robust and maintain their value; because strong and respected certification maintains the confidence of the market.
This approach has helped us to develop the first listed building to get BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ as well as to be crowned the first WELL Platinum Certified office building in Europe for our own Head Office in St James’s Market.
At The Crown Estate, our Development Sustainability Principles are informed by certifications. This led us to think about our approach at a portfolio level, considering our total impacts, rather than focussing on individual buildings in isolation.
In fact, building certifications were the starting point for Wild West End, an initiative which saw The Crown Estate and other West End property owners form a unique collaboration to create new space and promote green infrastructure in the capital. It was the recognition of the cumulative impact that we could make that saw us establish an ambition to create a green corridor, linking Regent’s Park and St James’s Park.”
Global Head of Sustainability
One of the key pillars of our sustainability strategy is to have 75% of our direct property assets under management to hold internationally recognised sustainability certifications by 2030.
As of end of 2018, 41% of our assets under management are certified representing €19bn, 236 buildings in 13 countries globally. Among the 41% certified, 51% are BREEAM certified, both refurbishment and in use certifications.
We strongly believe that certification brings significant advantages to stakeholders in an asset and presents three main advantages:
• Simple: It makes it easy for our investors and partners to understand the sustainability profile and performance of our assets under management
• Effective: It provides a way to measure performance that is simple and operational, while taking into account the specific requirements of different sectors and countries, and accommodating portfolio trading activity
• Long-lasting: It ensures we have a vision and strategy that increases stakeholder involvement and will stand the test of time, including changing occupier and investor demand and new legislation
We believe that over time, investors will increasingly favour buildings with strong sustainability performance. Certification is an important indicator of long-term performance and is becoming a market standard. It can also be beneficial to tenants, who tend to benefit from lower occupational costs and better building comfort. Finally, the process of certification offers positive benefits, as it brings together all stakeholders in an asset, raising awareness of sustainability issues and opportunities.
Ronald van der Waals
Ronald van der Waals
Building certification provides two competitive advantages for property owners; 1) it quantifies where you stand with your property or portfolio in terms of sustainability and future proofing which provides you guidance where you can further improve the quality and resilience of your properties and 2) it provides a quality rating for your properties that supports in the marketing of your properties towards tenants, occupiers and investors.