Switching to green real estate electricity is a concrete step towards Varma’s goal of reducing the carbon footprint of its real estate investments by 20% between 2015 and 2025. Other means include systematically improving energy efficiency in the properties managed by Varma and increasing the use of solar panels, among other things.
A 20% reduction in the carbon footprint means a decrease of more than 11,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2). As one of Finland’s largest real estate investors, Varma’s actions make a difference.
More solar panels for business premises
As of the beginning of 2017, Varma tied all of its rental residential properties to the Finnish Energy Efficiency Agreement Scheme for the property sector and the related Rental Flat Action Plan. Varma joined the Commercial Property Action Plan already in 2011. Both define energy savings targets to be achieved by 2025. The results are measured and reported annually.
Between 2011 and 2016, Varma’s business premises achieved energy savings of 7.9%. This is equal to the annual electricity consumption of 1,093 electricity-heated detached houses of approximately 120 square metres. The original target was 6%, which we reached one year ahead of time in summer 2015. Now, we have set the savings target for business premises even higher: energy consumption down by 10% by 2025. Achieving the target also requires investments.
“Solar panels were installed in two of our business premises in summer 2016, and this year we will install them in five to six more properties. We are also looking into investments in, for instance, solutions related to building automation, ventilation and lighting,” says Varma’s Commercial Property Director, Toni Pekonen.
Smart heating and green electricity for residential properties
In residential properties, Varma’s goal is to achieve annual energy savings of 620,000 kWh, which is equal to the annual electricity consumption of around 30 detached houses heated with electricity. At the same time, carbon dioxide emissions will decline by some 2,000 tonnes a year by 2025.
“We will switch to 100% renewable real estate electricity by the start of 2019. Real estate electricity refers to the electricity required for building services: ventilation equipment, pumps, outdoor lighting and staircase lighting,” says Varma’s Property Development Director, Aarne Markkula.
Flat-specific electricity choices are always the responsibility of the tenants.
However, the largest energy savings and, simultaneously, reduction in CO2 emissions are achieved through sensible use of heat energy. This means, among other things, controlling heating so that variations in the outdoor temperature are taken into account better and ventilation is adjusted sensibly.
Carbon footprint of real estate investments down by 8% within a year
Varma started an extensive analysis of the carbon footprint of its investments in autumn 2015. The objective was to determine how Varma can best contribute to the mitigation of climate change through its own actions.
The emissions calculation carried out at the end of 2016 showed a commendable 8% decline in the carbon footprint of direct real estate investments within a year.
The surface area of the business premises owned by Varma totals approximately 1.3 million square metres. The company has around 4,300 rental flats, with a total surface of some 260,000 m2.