In an era characterized by heightened sustainability regulations and legislation within the building sector, coupled with growing societal pressure to mitigate environmental impacts in business operations, TÜV SÜD's team of experts has thoughtfully curated 3 articles focusing on sustainability in the real estate industry from three distinct perspectives. We begin with an examination of how digital ecosystems can effectively support the attainment of your sustainability objectives by providing a collaborative platform for data-sharing among diverse stakeholders. Furthermore, we delve into the distinctive role played by Testing, Inspection, and Certification (TIC) companies, such as TÜV SÜD, in enhancing sustainability within the real estate sector, aiding building owners in achieving elevated levels of sustainability. Lastly, we discuss the financial dimensions, shedding light on how digitally managed sustainability compliance can lead to increased asset and portfolio values.

aerial view of buildings in a city
How Digital Ecosystems are Transforming Real Estate Management by Mr. Marc Grosskopf, Business Unit Manager of Building Lifecycle Services
engineers looking at tablet in a construction site
The Added Value of TIC Companies for Real Estate Sustainability by Dr. Yalin Kiliclar, Global Operation Manager of Building Lifecycle Services
aerial view of tuv sud Singapore headquarter
Turning Sustainability Compliance into Asset and Portfolio Performance by Dr. Hannes Endris, Business Line Manager of Smart Sustainable Building

ARTICLE 1: Digital Ecosystems

By Mr. Marc Grosskopf, Business Unit Manager of Building Lifecycle Services

aerial view of city with buildingsThe real estate industry has a significant impact on the environment, accounting for nearly 40% of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. However, there is growing recognition of the need to prioritize sustainability in real estate management practices. One promising approach is the use of digital ecosystems, which allow for collaboration and data-sharing across different stakeholders to achieve common sustainability goals.

In this article, we’ll explore how digital ecosystems are transforming real estate management for sustainability. We’ll look at practical use cases and highlight some of our technical partners in this field. Join us in exploring the potential of digital ecosystems for sustainable real estate management.


Digital Ecosystems as Sustainability Enabler

Digital ecosystems provide a range of benefits that can help support sustainability in real estate management. One key advantage is the exchange of data, based on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) reporting necessities. By gathering building performance data in a harmonized way, digital ecosystems can provide a starting point for understanding the current conditions of a building's sustainability. This data can then be used to cluster buildings according to local taxonomy and decarbonization roles and regulations, allowing for targeted sustainability solutions.

In the European Union, digital ecosystems help real estate managers be more sustainable by sharing data for ESG reporting needs. Harmonized building performance data is a starting point for understanding a buildings' sustainability. The current conditions of the building are the basis for this data and will allow for the identification of sustainable measures to improve the buildings' performance. The EU taxonomy is an excellent example as a digital enabler for optimized building and real estate sustainability.


Digital enriched TIC services

TIC services can use many existing systems to create digital ecosystems. Below are some examples of data endpoints and platforms that can provide data: 

  • Data from smart inspection systems, like façade inspection using drones, yield efficient and precise assessments.
  • Data from inspection apps which streamline report development and distribution.
  • Data from building performance monitoring systems, that optimize energy efficiency and reduce waste.
  • Data from digital twin systems used for efficiently onboarding buildings from design to operation.
  • Data from building envelope simulations which evaluate the most effective measures on various given parameters.
  • Decarbonization classification data that assess a building's environmental impact and identifies opportunities for sustainability improvements.
  • Asset and property management data used to streamline building portfolios.

The real estate sector frequently employs these digital services to ensure compliance with rules and guidelines relating to product quality, security, and environmental protection. All these individual data endpoints can be combined into more meaningful and holistic data visualizations by TIC services. Also, TIC services can make individual systems work better together by giving them instant feedback and communication.


How does it all work?

By using IT interfaces, separate systems and programs can be connected, effectively creating a digital ecosystem. This will provide a much more holistic and valuable insight and will ensure that real estate management practices remain in sync with sustainability objectives.

By allowing people to share and work together to achieve common sustainability goals, digital ecosystems can help real estate management become more sustainable, creating a more sustainable future for the real estate industry.


Teaming up for sustainable success!

At TÜV SÜD, we're proud to collaborate with industry leaders, like the digital platform provider Bosch or software solution providers like Nemetschek, to name two examples. We are, however, technology-agnostic, finding solutions to integrate individual systems, technologies, and platforms into combined digital ecosystems.

In addition, we also support a wide range of certified ecosystems, including BREEAM, LEED, DGNB, and Green Mark, to ensure our digital enriched TIC services meet the highest sustainability standards.

With such a vast spectrum of applications, technical and service partners, as well as ecosystems, we believe that our services are the best choice for those seeking comprehensive, sustainable solutions for their real estate needs.

Find out more about Building Sustainability and our digital enhanced TIC Service offerings!

We welcome you to contact us at any time - with no obligation - to learn more about how our digital enriched TIC services, esteemed partners, and certified eco systems can help you achieve your sustainability goals.

article 2: tic companies

 By Dr. Yalin Kiliclar, Global Operation Manager of Building Lifecycle Services

engineers working with tablet

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the real estate industry. Tenants and investors are asking for buildings that are more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Governments are also putting rules in place to make buildings more sustainable.

The real estate sector is a major contributor to global warming. Buildings are responsible for 37% of global carbon emissions and 34% of the worlds' energy demand. Other effects of buildings include resource depletion, air, water, and land pollution, and loss of biodiversity.

Companies from testing, inspection, and certification (TIC) play a key role in supporting the real estate industry achieve sustainable goals. TÜV SÜD as global TIC provider offers tailored services to ensure the safety, quality, and compliance of buildings and infrastructure projects. These offerings aid achieving sustainability, business, and investment goals for the building industry using state of the art digital technologies.


Benefits of working with TIC Companies

As environmental, social and governance considerations become commoditised, properties that do not meet the new sustainability standards may be disadvantaged in the marketplace. A sustainability assessment and rating framework can help create a more sustainable living and working environment, while lowering maintenance expenses and increasing the long-term worth of the building and its assets via possible environmental, social, and governance (ESG)-based investment.

This holistic life-cycle approach to the sector, even before planning begins, to lay the financial groundwork for the current and future perspective. It provides a pathway for optimizing planning standards and regulations compliance, including sustainability. It also provides the necessary data foundation to ensure transparency for relevant consumption parameters, which will make reporting as easy as possible.


Solutions from TÜV SÜD as a global TIC Company

It is a well-established fact that 85 to 95% of today's existing buildings will still exist in 2050. The construction industry exhibits a high degree of individuality, varying in terms of technical condition or project-related size and complexity. With this in mind, data availability is important for building physics and managing energy, water, and waste. It is therefore not feasible to adopt conventional methods, but to consider innovative approaches for each individual endeavour.

TÜV SÜD has a profound understanding of the engineering disciplines in the real estate sector, including civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering. Its operational role includes design review, quality management of processes, and construction itself. TÜV SÜD employs existing expertise and innovative technologies, to transform complex situations into a transparent approach that demonstrates the clients' commitment to reducing their carbon footprint.

For example, TÜV SÜD’s Technical Monitoring Service is integrated into a building automation system to extract raw data for secure transfer to TÜV SÜD experts for analysis. The user is provided with a continuous monitoring of their property over a dashboard and benchmarking of the single components by setting rules against initial design and common practice. This monitoring will easily identify 'low-hanging fruit' that will make a big difference. As part of the overall assessment strategy, these changes will also help future investments in retrofit methods like upgrading façade elements, building automation, and PV systems.

As a digital backbone, Technical Monitoring is the entry point to continuous ESG reporting. Digital data already collected can be used to look at buildings together with the building physics and make concrete decisions about how to improve them. This can also be used to classify assets based on the CRREM trend (Carbon Risk Real Estate Monitor).


Leading by Example: TÜV SÜD’s Singapore HQ Building

TÜV SÜD's 18,900 m2 headquarters in Singapore is one of our many global examples. Using simulations based on Building Information Modelling (BIM), the design review has already led to an increase in energy efficiency of about 50% compared to the previous building. During the design phase of the project, continuous quality and risk checks were implemented to guarantee the BIM model's performance and ensure that potential conflicts are identified immediately. This enabled project participants to resolve issues before building began. Up to this date, building automation systems not only achieve a unique energy efficiency status for the TÜV SÜD Singapore Headquarter Building, but they also provide profound insights into the overall performance of the building.


TÜV SÜD: Global Solutions and Local Expertise

To meet minimum standards for safety and sustainability, TÜV SÜD emphasizes the need to be familiar with local, national, and international building regulations. When it comes to sustainability, additional certification standards like LEED and BREEAM need to be taken into account. These standards include specific criteria for what is considered sustainable. For BREEAM, TÜV SÜD is the exclusive licensing partner of BRE Global and the only standard setter in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. This allows TÜV SÜD to assume certification duties, for example, on behalf of governmental bodies, without any interference or bias. However, numerous other standards are also important in determining optimal solutions and control needs, including energy efficiency and indoor air quality standards, as well as material and product standards. The TÜV SÜD Centre of Competence for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning is Europe's largest independent test laboratory for functional and performance tests, thermodynamic assessments, and the measurement of sound emissions. TÜV SÜD can perform virtually all measurements in the fields of refrigeration and air conditioning technology and technical acoustics.

Interested in finding out more about this and many other sustainability topics from TÜV SÜD? Check out Green Building and Infrastructure page and feel free to contact us for information and assistance regarding our TIC solutions for real estate sustainability!

Article 3: Portfolio performance

By Dr. Hannes Raoul Endriss, Business Line Manager of Smart Sustainable Building

drone shot of TUV SUD Singapore HeadquarterA popular definition of sustainability, coined by National Geographic, is: “Sustainability is the practice of using natural resources responsibly, so they can support both present and future generations.” This definition is easy to understand, but it's hard to figure out how to follow it. So, we break it down into categories and explain it in a specific way.

The Paris Agreement's 1.5°-aim is probably a very popular definition even if it focuses purely on the aspect of decarbonization. “It’s overarching goal is to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

However, there is currently a dramatic gap in meeting the target of the overarching 1.5° goal. The current rise in global average temperature is already more than 1.1° Celsius, according to the World Meteorological Organisation, and is projected to increase by nearly 50% over the 1.5° target in the period 2022-2026.

This focus on decarbonisation is extended by the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which provide a more holistic view of sustainability that goes beyond the quantitative goal of decarbonisation.


Sustainability Compliance in the Building Sector

Buildings make up 37% of the carbon footprint, so the target for the whole sector and all the individual assets must be reduced. The Carbon Risk Real Estate Monitor path (CRREM) provides a scale to measure decarbonisation in the real estate sector in different countries.

The network world green building council has given priority to 11 out of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals for the building and construction industry, which extends beyond the decarbonization factor[4]. Green building certifications like BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) reflect these UN SDGs to demonstrate compliance with sustainable building practices, introducing issues such as energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality, occupant comfort, and material selection.


Why is Sustainability Compliance Important?

Despite the fact that the imperative to reduce carbon emissions for humanity is preceding any particular organization, there are numerous advantages associated with ensuring ESG compliance.

First, the high risk of "stranding" assets is minimized by adhering to and securing future protection against upcoming Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) regulations and applied frameworks, such as CRREM.

Second, eco-friendly practices are the foundation of tenancy- and occupant-centered structures, addressing issues like comfortable living spaces or energy conservation. Particularly, the certification of green buildings renders achievements visible to tenants, customers, and other stakeholders, thereby guaranteeing a long-term benefit.

Third, sustainability-focused portfolios may have greater access to capital from investors and lenders who prioritize emerging sustainability considerations.

Fourth, higher prices for energy and government programs that help people save money on energy make it worthwhile to save energy in the short and long run. Recent studies indicate that sustainability is closely related to financial success. Our investigation also suggests that non-financial indicators, such as CO2 emissions, can obscure environmental-related savings and tens of billions of dollars in additional revenue.


4 Steps to turn Sustainability Compliance into Portfolio Performance

We suggest a four-step process for existing structures, which takes into account the fundamentals of an ESG strategy at an organizational or fund level.

  • The initial step involves evaluating and grading each building in the portfolio holistically, taking into account energy use, usage, and area, which provides a current state eventually this is extended by other ESG factors. This initial assessment must follow a pre-defined strategic vision for the portfolio.
  • The second step involves the buildings' evacuation to ascertain the physics of the structure and the state and quality of the individual building components. This information allows a detailed tracking with sustainable KPIs and benchmarks of different certification schemes and sustainable guidelines. The information is gathered from site visits, original designs, and real-time data where available.
  • In a third step, the data can be used to make a digital twin, which includes x-dimensional data in an energy model and real-time data from our technical monitoring services. This digital twin can be used to find improvements in building operation and building physics.
  • Finally, continuous action planning enables ESG reporting, forecasting and active management, as well as cash flow planning including CAPEX and OPEX. In addition, ESG criteria need to be implemented in transaction decisions and in the early stages of a new building project.

Overall, this approach enables long-term compliance with sustainable building goals through active data management.

You can find more details on how the principal of a digital twin can be implemented in the real estate sector on our Green Building and Infrastructure website.


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