In today’s investment landscape, sustainability and social responsibility (ESG) are becoming increasingly important criteria. While many companies focus on reducing CO2 emissions or energy consumption to measure the sustainability of their buildings, they often overlook water management as a metric. Therefore, Smartvatten partnered with GRESB to explore water management in relation to ESG strategy in a webinar the 21st of March. We are happy to share that we got over 500 people registering for the webinar, which indeed tells us that we are not alone in realizing we need to act faster towards a sustainable water consumption model.
The panel consisted of Addy Van Zoelen and Sandrine Faucconnet from Cromwell Property Group, Caroline Ödin from Fabege , Juliette Lefébure – Wirth and Thomas Van Rompaey from AXA IM.
Key Speech: Water – the Hidden Cornerstone in ESG Strategies
According to Karl Jepsson, Business Development Manager at Smartvatten, water has been somewhat of an afterthought so far, partly because it water has been relatively cheap compared to electricity in many places.
However, as water scarcity arises is becoming more and more prelevant, awareness about water issues is increasing. The summer of 2022 was a negative example of the change taking place, as it was the driest summer in Europe in 500 years. With climate change, pollution, and population growth, droughts and water scarcity are becoming more frequent in Europe.
Furthermore, water is also a big risk factor for properties when it comes to leakages. Thus, water plays a significant role in the ESG strategy for the real estate and construntion industry, that alone, stands for 40% of the emissions.
Drivers for Change: The Role of Water in the Panel’s Overall ESG Strategy
There can be several drivers that come into play when it comes to water as a metric. For Fabege, and their insurance company, approximately 70% of all damages in buildings are water-related. Therefore, monitoring water is essential for controlling potential risks and costs. At the same time, better performance in yearly sustainability reporting plays a crucial role, with the target being to save 2% of water each year.
AXA IM started an internal ESG rating to assess building performance in 2016. Since then, water and water-related factors have been a key metric. The two factors assessed in the process are water efficiency measures to improve and optimize water consumption in each building and be able to benchmark assets.
Collecting the Right Data
Behind every ESG strategy and implementation lies reliable and comparable data. However, with portfolios spread across Europe, equipped with different water meters, collecting, receiving, and monitoring the right data within a time frame can be a real challenge. The fast implementation and scalability of the Smartvatten solution was a key factor in choosing Smartvatten for Cromwell.
It is important to stress that it does not matter where the customer is in the process of connecting water meters or to digitize everything to enter the partnership. Smartvatten finds individual solutions and support so the customer can start to benefit from and working with the data.
More than collecting data: GRESB Water Efficiency Risk Assessment Report
Smartvatten has always viewed data collection and visualization as merely the first step towards achieving water efficiency, and this philosophy is shared by industry experts such as Thomas van Rompeaey, Senior Associate at AXA IM. During the webinar, we therefore gave a sneak-peak of the new GRESB Water Efficiency Risk Assessment Report that we will launch shortly, together with AXA IM.
Shortly described, the data driven Water Efficiency Risk Assessment will benchmark each asset against a portfolio of assets in order to determine which assets have higher potential to reduce water usage. The report mainly compares consumption per floor area and asset class aswell as total leakage volumes, and based on those parameters a total scoring indicating the improvement potential is determined. It also visualizes the relative performance of each asset compared to the total compared portfolio.
Did you miss the webinar? Don´t worry, you can watch it in full here: WATCH THE WEBINAR HERE
Smartvatten & GRESB
Smartvatten has joined the GRESB Partner Program as a Premier Partner, which includes a Data Partnership. The partnership solidifies the course Smartvatten has pursued from the beginning: to become a leading player in water efficiency services, and one that’s here to stay.
The GRESB organization provides a standardized and validated way to determine the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance of real estate and infrastructure and shares that data with the capital markets. It is the leading ESG benchmark for real estate and infrastructure investments around the world, and it actively recognizes the importance of responsible use of water.