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05 Decem­ber 2018

Sights set on the tar­get

Rea­ching the two-degree tar­get set by the UN will requi­re well-foun­ded, stra­te­gic deci­si­on making. Swiss Prime Site deve­lops models that make a decisi­ve con­tri­bu­ti­on to long-term plan­ning and stra­te­gic deve­lop­ment.

What can a com­pa­ny like Swiss Prime Site do to sup­port inter­na­tio­nal cli­ma­te poli­cy and achie­ve the UN two-degree tar­get, which has been rati­fied by Switz­er­land? This is a questi­on that will occu­py the Group’s com­pa­ny Win­ca­sa over the com­ing weeks, mon­ths and years. As the pro­cess kicks off, three experts from the are­as of sus­tai­na­bi­li­ty, data and stra­te­gy pro­vi­de some infor­ma­ti­on about how the next steps towards effi­ci­ent cli­ma­te pro­tec­tion might look.

Wed­nes­day morning, just befo­re nine, at Win­ca­sa in Zurich. Mar­tin Pfen­nin­ger, Head of Pro­ject Manage­ment and Sus­tai­na­bi­li­ty, is the first to enter the brain­stor­ming room. Here, among the swing, the white­board and the Lego figu­res, a dis­cus­sion is set to take place on a key questi­on rela­ting to sus­tai­na­bi­li­ty: what con­tri­bu­ti­on can Swiss Prime Site and Win­ca­sa make to mee­ting the needs of the Ener­gy Stra­te­gy 2050 and the asso­cia­ted CO2 reduc­tions, and thus to achie­ving the inter­na­tio­nal­ly agreed two-degree tar­get? Appro­xi­mate­ly one quar­ter of Swiss car­bon emis­si­ons are pro­du­ced in the real estate sec­tor. That means that this par­ti­cu­lar branch of the eco­no­my, invol­ved in the con­struc­tion and ope­ra­ti­on of buil­dings, has a big influ­ence on the cli­ma­te. Swiss Prime Site is awa­re of this and has tas­ked Pfen­nin­ger with quan­ti­fy­ing all the cur­rent and future mea­su­res for redu­cing car­bon emis­si­ons, and visual­ly illu­stra­ting them in a reduc­tion pathway.

A chal­len­ging task, for which the expert has brought in sup­port – from Reto Camenzind, Head of Data Sci­ence, and Ser­dar Oen­el, Pro­ject Mana­ger for Rese­arch and Stra­te­gy. Today’s kick-off mee­ting is inten­ded to lay the foun­da­ti­ons of the pro­ject. They want to approach the issue tog­e­ther. Over the com­ing weeks and mon­ths, the idea is to deve­lop a fore­cast for CO2 emis­si­ons in the Swiss Prime Site port­fo­lio and, in doing so, to deli­ver an important con­tri­bu­ti­on to the company’s next sus­tai­na­bi­li­ty report.

Mar­tin Pfen­nin­ger, Reto Camenzind, Jan Rüegg and Ser­dar Oen­el (from left to right)

From review to fore­cast
Not only has Swiss Prime Site’s sus­tai­na­bi­li­ty report initia­ted the pro­ject, but the published data, initia­ti­ves and tar­gets also pro­vi­de the basis for deve­lo­ping and illu­stra­ting the CO2 reduc­tion pathway. Over the past few years, for examp­le, all eco­lo­gi­cal values have been recor­ded trans­par­ent­ly, and mea­su­res such as con­forming with the two-degree tar­get have been adhe­red to. The EC/BO pro­ject, star­ted in 2012, not only brought trans­pa­ren­cy to the real estate port­fo­lio with regard to ener­gy con­sump­ti­on and green­house emis­si­ons, but also pro­vi­ded a good star­ting point for Pfen­nin­ger and his team. The ope­ra­tio­nal impro­ve­ments laun­ched at the same time allo­wed the com­pa­ny to imple­ment some initi­al reduc­tions, which were map­ped in the reduc­tion pathway that has alrea­dy been published. With the update to the road­map, all future initia­ti­ves and efforts should now be quan­ti­fied and illu­stra­ted. Swiss Prime Site is the­re­fo­re ven­tu­ring to take a look into the future – not only at the next ten years, but even fur­ther beyond.

The aim is to crea­te a tool that the manage­ment team can use as a basis for making deci­si­ons. All future deci­si­ons should be made with an increa­sed focus on aspects of envi­ron­men­tal sus­tai­na­bi­li­ty. But whe­re to start with an under­ta­king on this sca­le? It is essen­ti­al to make things tan­gi­ble and to defi­ne prac­ti­cal steps.

«Gene­ral­ly we work with manage­ment and main­ten­an­ce plans covering the next ten years. The road­map for the two-degree tar­get extends far beyond that.»

That is why the­se three experts have assem­bled today, who are well infor­med about sus­tai­na­bi­li­ty, data and deve­lop­ment. This know­ledge is vital, not only for approa­ching the issue, but also for deve­lo­ping a con­cre­te solu­ti­on. «Our first step is focus­sed on map­ping the cur­rent port­fo­lio and visua­li­sing to what extent we’re on the path we want to be on, and which of our plan­ned mea­su­res have what impact», exp­lains Pfen­nin­ger. The key ways of making adjust­ments to influ­ence a building’s green­house emis­si­ons are opti­mi­sa­ti­on, impro­ving effi­ci­en­cy and sub­sti­tu­ting fos­sil fuels. The first can be achie­ved, for examp­le, by adju­sting the con­trol para­me­ters of the buil­ding ser­vices. Effi­ci­en­cy can be impro­ved wit­hin the con­text of reno­va­tions during the life cycle of a buil­ding. And rene­wa­ble ener­gy, such as hydro­power, can be used to replace fos­sil fuels. «The time frame poses a real chal­len­ge», says Pfen­nin­ger. «Gene­ral­ly we work with manage­ment and main­ten­an­ce plans covering the next ten years. The road­map for the two-degree tar­get extends far beyond that. Alt­hough we can make rela­tively accu­ra­te esti­ma­tes for each indi­vi­du­al buil­ding for the next ten years, the years fol­lo­wing that are not defi­ned.» Win­ca­sa the­re­fo­re has to work with assump­ti­ons about the dura­bi­li­ty and life cycle of buil­ding com­pon­ents and real estate. Take an examp­le: if the­re is a pro­per­ty that has no com­pre­hen­si­ve reno­va­ti­on sche­du­led in the next ten years, we must assu­me the­re will be a reno­va­ti­on at a future point in time. But what ener­gy stan­dard do we anti­ci­pa­te app­ly­ing to the reno­va­ti­on? This deci­si­on natu­ral­ly has an effect on sub­se­quent cal­cu­la­ti­ons of ener­gy con­sump­ti­on and the asso­cia­ted car­bon emis­si­ons. The­re is a simi­lar issue with repla­cing hea­ting systems. When will this be requi­red in future? And which type of hea­ting (gas, heat pump etc.) do we expect will be used? Many things are uncer­tain. But one thing is clear to ever­yo­ne at the table: the fur­ther you look into the future, the more impre­ci­se the fore­cast beco­mes.

«The key ways of making adjust­ments to influ­ence a building’s green­house emis­si­ons are opti­mi­sa­ti­on, impro­ving effi­ci­en­cy and sub­sti­tu­ting fos­sil fuels.»

Catching «the cur­ve»
Ano­t­her chal­len­ge lies in actual­ly illu­stra­ting the fore­cast. In order to be able to make pre­dic­tions for Swiss Prime Site’s real estate port­fo­lio, the mea­su­res have to be defi­ned at the buil­ding level and plot­ted on the time axis. Mar­tin Pfen­nin­ger spreads out a gra­phic on the con­fe­rence table: «I’m ima­gi­ning a dia­gram that gives an over­view of indi­vi­du­al buil­dings, whe­re, on the x-axis, you have the spe­ci­fic ener­gy figu­re for the pro­per­ties in kWh per m2 and, on the y-axis, the cor­re­spon­ding CO2 equi­va­lent per m2. The size of the bub­ble can also be used to rep­re­sent the abso­lu­te CO2 emis­si­ons or the area of the pro­per­ty.» A second dia­gram illu­stra­ting the CO2 reduc­tion pathway takes the ent­i­re port­fo­lio into con­si­de­ra­ti­on. The x-axis is a time­li­ne, while the portfolio’s CO2 emis­si­ons are rep­re­sen­ted on the y-axis. The down­ward cur­ve for achie­ving the two-degree goal is depic­ted in the back­ground, sho­wing the tar­get: far off in the future, in 2100, the CO2 emis­si­ons stand at zero. If the sus­tai­na­bi­li­ty mea­su­res are effec­tive, Swiss Prime Site will con­ver­ge with the two-degree cur­ve.

Simu­la­ti­ons like the­se are extre­me­ly indi­ca­ti­ve – both at the level of the ent­i­re port­fo­lio and for indi­vi­du­al pro­per­ties. Pro­vi­ded they are based on a data set of high quan­ti­ta­ti­ve and qua­li­ta­ti­ve value. Ever­ything rests on the qua­li­ty of the data. And this has to be defi­ned and collec­ted. Pfen­nin­ger and his team now sim­ply want to get star­ted. Kick off and explo­re the issue tog­e­ther. Becau­se ano­t­her thing is clear: Swiss Prime Site is taking on a pionee­ring role here with Win­ca­sa. The­re are no blue­prints and no best prac­tice to fol­low for gui­d­ance. At the end of the year, they want to be able to show how the port­fo­lio stands in rela­ti­on to the two-degree tar­get. The expec­ta­ti­ons are gre­at – at least as gre­at as the task its­elf.