NN Group improved
its score in the 2017 Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark
(GRESB) assessment, a leading global standard for assessing environmental,
social and governance (ESG) performance of real estate.
Marieke van Kamp
is Head of Private Markets at NN Group’s Investment Office. She is responsible
for the real estate, private equity, and private loan portfolios of the NN
insurance companies. Marieke elaborates on the outcome of the 2017 benchmark.
‘As a large,
international insurance company and asset manager, Responsible Investment is an
important factor in what we do. In our role as investors, we integrate
environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into our investment process.
And, as more and more customers show interest in Responsible Investment, we continue
to offer specialised, sustainable investment solutions they prefer’.
‘Real estate is
an important asset class within NN ‘s own investment portfolio’, Marieke
explains. ‘As a long-term investor in real estate, we believe it is important
to invest in measures to reduce environmental impacts. Participating in the
GRESB benchmark allows us to measure and monitor our performance, stimulating
us to constantly improve’.
Why is it important to make real estate investments more
‘We recognise that real estate can contribute to the social and
environmental challenges that society faces. Therefore we invest in measures to
improve energy, water, and waste efficiency. Also, we engage with our suppliers,
asking them to use sustainable materials in renovations. We involve tenants through
regular surveys to improve existing property performance. And we ask borrowers
to improve their sustainability performance. Through these
actions, we create long term value and improve the environment we live in’.
Can you give us some idea what NN’s real estate portfolio looks
like? And how do you improve its sustainability?
‘With a managed portfolio of real estate investments and -loans
combined, real estate is an important asset class within NN’s own investment
portfolio. The portfolio is spread over sectors and regions in Europe. We invest in both commercial real estate,
such as office buildings, shopping centres and logistic buildings, and residential
real estate, including student housing. We also provide loans to commercial
real estate owners’.
What sustainability improvement are you most excited about?
‘Personally, I am
very excited about our efforts to put solar panels onto the roofs of the
logistic buildings in our portfolio. We have some 850,000
square meters of roof on logistic buildings, that roughly equals 170 football
fields. To me, that represents a substantial opportunity to increase in green
energy production and I hope that we can achieve a lot there’.
So what are the lessons learned?
‘The value of
gathering data cannot be underestimated. Data provide insight, help you to
compare assets, recognise things off average, to define actions which can be taken
to improve sustainability performance. Also, raising awareness in the value
chain really helps to acquire new ideas and bringing these into concrete
actions. Everyone can play a role in improving real estate sustainability: tenants,
property managers, valuators, contractors. And everyone profits from that’.
What is NN’s ambition going forward in making its real estate
investments more sustainable?
‘In the 2017 GRESB
benchmark, NN Group’s real estate portfolio received Four Stars out of a total
of five. Participating in this ESG benchmark allows us to measure and monitor
our performance, stimulating us to constantly improve. Improving portfolio
sustainability is a high priority for all the NN teams involved in managing the
real estate assets. Of course, good benchmark scores are always nice, but at
the end of the day it is the underlying, real, tangible results – a reduced
environmental impact and satisfied tenants – that count’.