Roger Toussaint

Update from Roger Toussaint

When we opened our Amsterdam office late 2019, we had a clear purpose for Longevity to help accelerate the transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient urban environment. Whilst the Netherlands is slowly coming out of lockdown, we are preparing to deliver a tremendous amount of BREEAM In Use assessments, Energy audits, Sustainability Due Diligence assessments and ESG strategies for our partners.

Although the pandemic triggered the most severe market crash since the global financial crisis, there is a clear difference when looking at sustainability in the real estate sector. This time, sustainability – and more specifically Environmental Social & Governance (ESG) concerns – did not disappear from the collective agenda. The topic remained a priority, partly due to a better legislative framework and an increased interest from institutional investors.

The Paris Agreement and the Dutch government’s goal of emitting 49% less greenhouse gases in 2030 compared to 1990 are reasons for the continued focus on ESG over the past year. The real estate sector plays in important role to achieve this goal. At the same time, large institutional investors have pushed the ESG agenda over the past years. Investors increasingly recognize the value of ESG investing, simultaneously contributing to the reduction target and to make real estate portfolios ‘future-proof’. Each year, investors increase the ESG requirements for investments, with measurable targets for managers. Regulatory frameworks such as the new Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) and established benchmarks such as the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark rating (GRESB), have encouraged the attention for operationalized portfolio ESG strategies, ESG due diligence and building certification in the Netherlands.

Some sectors have gained momentum during the pandemic. The unabated growth of e-commerce has led to an increased demand for large distribution centres. Over the past year we have been delivering progressively more Sustainability Due Diligence reports, building certificates and optimisation reports for the logistics sector. In the office sector, the pandemic has led to an increased demand for healthy working environments, spurring the application of frameworks such as WELL or Fitwel. Meanwhile, in the residential sector the need for affordable, healthy and low-carbon housing remains high. Recently, the Dutch Green Building Council has launched the BREEAM In Use certification scheme for large Residential Portfolios. Longevity Partners is delighted to have worked together with Vesteda – a Dutch residential investor that focuses primarily on the mid-rental segment – and the DGBC on the further refinement of the certification scheme in the Netherlands. We aim to certify the first residential units within year.

Since our office opened its doors on the Zuidas, we have enjoyed an accelerated growth and hired 4 young professionals. We are proud to provide a wide range of services, including Sustainability Due Diligence, BREEAM-NL In Use certification, GRESB reporting, ESG-strategy development and energy audits to new partners; including AXA Investment Managers, Frasers Property, Tristan Capital, Europa Capital, Aberdeen Standard, Rockfield Real Estate and Barings.

I would like to use this occasion to thank all our partners who have trusted and supported us, as well as the continued personal commitment of our team in the Netherlands. I am particularly thankful for the time and effort our team spends on delivering the best results for our partners – whilst working together remotely.

Our team continues to deliver transformative results for developers, owners, investors and occupiers across all sectors of the commercial property industry. This pandemic has underlined that ESG investing doesn’t come at a cost, but serves to future-proof investments and may even increase profit, all while helping to accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon climate resilient future. I am excited by what the future holds and the team is looking forward to keep working on our mission to transform the property industry.

Thank you and stay safe!

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