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The real estate sector has a significant impact on a sustainable economy. How does HIAG handle this?
Rico Müller: Real estate plays a decisive role in the achievement of international climate goals. In Switzerland, buildings are responsible for about one third of CO2 emissions. HIAG wants to be a reliable and conscientious business partner, creating environmental, economic and social added value.
HIAG has set itself the objective of being an industry pioneer in terms of sustainability. What is HIAG’s current position?
Andreas Kalberer: In recent months, considerable investments have been made in sustainability. Among other things, a detailed sustainability strategy was drawn up and approved by the responsible committees and the sustainability report 2021 was compiled as per the most widely accepted international GRI Standards. So we have made a huge leap forward. The transparency that this creates also meets a major requirement from our stakeholders.
RM: Our business philosophy of reviving former industrial sites and the long life and investment cycles of our properties form an exceptional foundation for this. It’s what we are building on. Sustainability is considered in all HIAG’s business processes. The entire organization is involved and takes responsibility for this.
What objectives has HIAG set in its sustainability reporting?
RM: We selected a professional standard that we use as a basis for ongoing development. The current sustainability report takes account of this for the first time. We are making improvements step by step.
AK: We have now reported a large amount of relevant quantitative information and set measurable goals for ourselves. This also involves working out a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our objectives also include the expansion of HIAG Solar to generate solar energy at our own sites, the establishment of a guideline for resource-efficient construction and participation in the GRESB 2022 assessment.
HIAG prepares its sustainability report in accordance with the “core” option of the GRI Standards. What was the decisive factor in choosing the GRI Standards?
AK: After carefully evaluating our reporting needs, we came to the conclusion that the GRI Standards cover all the relevant aspects of our sustainability strategy. They allow us to compare ourselves to our competitors. The scope of the standards supports a pragmatic approach.
Until now, HIAG was guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. What role do the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) play in HIAG’s sustainability report?
AK: The SDGs are a part of HIAG’s sustainability strategy. Their content is anchored in our philosophy and we explore them in detail in our reporting.
How does HIAG take into account the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) with regard to the impact of climate-related fi nancial risks on HIAG’s business?
RM: The TCFD recommendations are not currently part of our reporting. But implicitly we already comply with many components, such as the anchoring of sustainability in the Strategy 2025 and the inclusion of sustainability aspects in risk management.
What were the biggest challenges in preparing the current Sustainability Report?
AK: Collecting data. Drafting the sustainability strategy. Choosing the content in an extremely fragmented environment with many standards and diff erent market expectations.
RM: We also witness diff erent expectations when we talk to analysts and investors. We aim to create the best possible transparency about our work and our results, so that people have a better understanding of HIAG’s business model. This also includes avoiding grey energy by maintaining and converting existing buildings and professionally disposing of pollutants and contaminants left behind by former industrial users.
How should HIAG’s sustainability work be measured?
RM: With our planned participation in the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) for the fi rst time in 2022, we are consistently pursuing transparency in the fi eld of sustainability. Through the GRESB assessment, we will allow more than 140 institutional investors direct access to our sustainability data. In addition, Inrate’s sustainability rating is also important for HIAG.
How are the stakeholders, and particularly the tenants, included in HIAG’s sustainability management?
AK: We foster close cooperation with all sttakeholders and work out solutions together. Furthermore, we closed a critical gap regarding the involvement of our partners with a specific “Code of Conduct for Business Partners and their Subcontractors”.
Do the sustainability goals have an impact on the compensation of HIAG’s Executive Board?
RM: The achievement of specifi c sustainability goals already has an impact on the CEO’s compensation, and this will also be the case for the CFO starting in 2022. This concept will then be extended to all employees who can make a measurable contribution to sustainability as part of their job.
What are your hopes for the future development of sustainability reporting?
RM: A better understanding of entrepreneurial activity, and qualitative information and fewer standard procedures based on check lists.
AK: I would like the requirements to be standardised and the ratings to become more transparent and meaningful.