Annual Report 2021
Sustainable value creation
a.s.r. real estate

As a real estate investment manager, a.s.r. recognises its responsibility for contributing towards liveable and sustainable buildings, cities and communities. By investing in appropriate and sustainable real estate, a.s.r. aims to have a positive impact on the built-up environment, both now and for future generations.

Each year, Real Estate initiates projects for tenant engagement, invests in districts and sets targets for a more climate-adaptive environment. In strong partnerships with its stakeholders, Real Estate makes targeted impact investments, accelerates the energy transitions through renewable power generation and is working towards a Paris-Proof portfolio in 2045.

Sustainable investing – GRESB benchmark

The a.s.r. real estate sector funds were assessed on their sustainability performance by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) in 2021. The ASR Dutch Core Residential Fund (ASR DCRF) and the ASR Dutch Mobility Office Fund (ASR DMOF) were each awarded the maximum score of five stars. This means that Real Estate’s residential and office funds are among the top 20% best-performing GRESB funds worldwide. The ASR Dutch Prime Retail Fund (ASR DPRF) also saw improved performance this year, with a four-star score. The recently-launched ASR Dutch Science Park Fund (ASR DSPF) took part for the first time in 2021 and achieved a starting score of 72 points. A new fund cannot yet attain a maximum score in the phase of building up a track record. In the coming years, a.s.r. will continue its efforts for further sustainability improvements, in which a.s.r.'s Paris-Proof Roadmaps are leading.

Rewards for sustainable farming

a.s.r. aims to help secure the continuation of farming and to address climate change and the loss of biodiversity, among others through the introduction of a reward system for farmers that operate sustainably. Subject to conditions, existing and new lessees of farmland that comply with certain sustainability requirements can receive a 5% to 10% discount on the ground rent that they pay for the leasehold of the land. This discount applies for the full contractual term, as long as they comply with the sustainability measures. The sustainability measures are divided into three themes (soil, biodiversity and business operations), with conditions relating to the environment, health and animal welfare. These themes contribute towards the necessary sustainability transition in the agricultural sector. The reward system for sustainable farming falls within a.s.r.’s climate-smart agriculture framework.

Renewable energy

Alongside determined efforts to reduce energy consumption, a.s.r. maintains a firm focus on increasing the renewable energy generated on-site. Since its portfolios encompass both farmland and the built environment, a.s.r. is in a position to make an important contribution to the Dutch energy transition. In 2021, 6,670 solar panels were installed on roofs bringing the current total up to 15,126.

In the past year, Chinese oppression of the Uyghur ethnic group was an important issue for a.s.r. China is suspected of forcing Uyghurs to mine raw materials for the production of solar panels. In order to ensure that it does not work with manufacturers that are directly or indirectly associated with these potential abuses of human rights, a.s.r. has sharpened the screening procedure for all solar panel projects. Among other things, solar panel manufacturers must be able to describe their entire supply chain and show the origins of their raw materials and materials.

Monitor and adapt to climate change

Climate Adaptation Services has drawn up a Climate Impact Atlas on the basis of the four climate risks (heat, drought, flooding and extreme weather). This provides an insight into the climate effects in an accessible manner and makes clear how these risks will impact on the living environment, now and in 2050. Anticipation of climate change is necessary to create a more sustainable living environment and to retain the value of the real estate portfolios.

In the Geographic Information System (GIS), a.s.r. has set up a dashboard that makes the impact of climate risks clear at the portfolio level. This tool loads multiple climate risks and the locations of a.s.r. properties are plotted over these. With this, a.s.r. determines the risks for each building. a.s.r. has drawn up a risk profile varying from low to high, making risk levels transparent at a detailed level. a.s.r. uses the insights obtained in the purchase of new properties and the annual hold / sell analysis.

Paris Proof-roadmaps

In 2020, Real Estate signed the Paris Proof Commitment of the Dutch Green Building Council (DGBC), which works to realise a greenhouse gas-neutral portfolio in 2050. In 2021, Real Estate raised its ambition to realisation of this target in 2045. Increased urgency and regulatory pressure to reduce emissions worldwide has led Real Estate to accelerate the process of realising more energy-efficient portfolios. In order to avoid assets becoming unmarketable, Paris Proof-roadmaps have been drawn up for all real estate funds. These roadmaps are produced with the CRREM tool (a tool developed by the EU for real estate investors in order to measure exposure to emission-related risks).

building and renovation

a.s.r. has a strong focus on climate in its real estate. That is why a.s.r. decided to have its real estate objects to be build and renovated sustainably. One example is Wonderwoods in Utrecht, where homes and offices merge into a vertical forest. The Treehouse project in Rotterdam, inspired by the ecosystem of a tree, is another good example of this.

Another example is the renovation of a 8,300 m2 office building in Utrecht in 2021. A number of sustainable measures were taken, including the construction of a moss sedum roof that retains rainwater, keeping the building cooler. The facade was also provided with extra insulation, and solar panels and LED lighting were installed. Following the renovation, the building was awarded the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) Excellent hallmark.

Recently the ASR Dutch Mobility Office Fund was nominated for the Responsible Investment For Small Portfolios Award by BREEAM and GRESB.