This past spring, I got a chance to became closely involved in Sponda’s environmental responsibility and it’s development. I am also happy to start sharing my views in Sponda’s blog and my blog entries will cover various perspectives on current themes in corporate and environmental responsibility in the property sector.

We are living in a new era of environmental responsibility. In the 1990s, environmental responsibility was almost exclusively perceived as compliance with law and regulations. Much has changed since. Today, it is something that everyone is concerned about. The driving forces behind this change are increased awareness, global concerns such as climate change, population growth and rising energy prices, as well as tighter regulation.

I recently attended an event where KTI Property Information published its Responsible Property Business 2014 report: Buildings account for more than a third of global energy consumption. In Finland, the building stock and plots of land represent over 60 per cent of national wealth. Buildings account for approximately 40 per cent of total energy consumption and an equal proportion of Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions. There is a lot of work to be done.

To invest in energy efficiency is to do good for the climate. Average temperatures have risen by 0.3 degrees per decade since the 1960s. Without energy efficiency measures, the expected increase in energy consumption in the construction industry is 50 per cent by 2050.

The property sector takes on significant responsibility in combating climate change. Energy efficiency and mitigating environmental impacts are on companies’ agendas from both the economic and emissions perspectives. Rising energy prices increase the attractiveness of practical energy conservation measures. At Sponda, we are constantly working to improve energy efficiency, and we have already achieved a considerable decrease in the energy consumption of our properties. We are in a good position to move forward.

Working with customers to achieve the best results. The most encouraging results in reducing the environmental impact of the existing building stock have been achieved by working together. It is very rewarding to see how quickly results can be accomplished. For example, in waste recovery and recycling, we have gone from a rate of 55 per cent to 95 per cent in just a few years. We offer our customers a variety of services in this area, such as monthly consumption monitoring, environmental partnerships, environmental information events and Green Lease agreements. We support our customers in the implementation of corporate responsibility.

The lifecycle perspective is an integral part of responsibility. Responsibility in the property sector extends from new construction to the environmental impacts of the use of the property as well as building renovations. There are many tools available for managing and mitigating all of the environmental impacts throughout a building’s lifecycle. Two good examples are the LEED and BREEAM environmental certification systems for buildings. The benefits of certification have recently been increasingly researched not only internationally but also in Finland as, and the results indicate that environmental certificates increase property value and reduce the usage and maintenance costs . Sponda has already awarded nine environmentally certified buildings!

Properties are a major source of energy consumption, but fortunately the problem areas have been identified and the industry has taken on responsibility and many proactive actions to reduce the impact. I am confident that these actions are gradually beginning to speak for themselves.

Hannamari Koivula, Sponda’s Sustainability Manager