ULI Greece & Cyprus: 18th Prodexpo Real Estate Conference

ULI Greece & Cyprus participated and led two sessions at the 18th Prodexpo Real Estate Conference on 17-18 October 2017.

During the first day, Sofia Faltseta, member of ULI Greece & Cyprus and Deputy Director in Hellenic Public Real Estate Company, presented in the session entitled “Immigration and Real Estate in European Cities” a very interesting and recent ULI study on immigration and its imprint on real estate market in large urban centers. As pointed out, current migratory flow has an impact on cities as well as on real estate creating the need to introduce innovative practices for affordable housing. According to the study, 17 million immigrants are yet to settle in Europe in the coming years, therefore there is a need for immediate measures to ensure quality housing. It is was also highlighted that the rate of demographic growth in Europe would be low without immigration. Mrs Faltseta also pointed out that immigrants prefer to live in big cities since currently 95% have preferred urban destinations. Please click here to view the presentation.

During the second day of the event, ULI Greece & Cyprus Sustainability Council curated the panel session entitled “Energy Efficiency and Responsible Property Investing”. Ioannis Orfanos, Head of ULI Greece & Cyprus Sustainability Council and Director of Green Value Associates, moderated the panel discussion. He started his moderation with a short presentation on the Greek building stock to highlight that the existing buildings are worryingly exposed to adverse weather events and climate change risks. He also provided public data to showcase their great energy efficiency potential. For the panel discussion, three distinguished speakers from across Europe were invited to share their experiences and knowledge in responsible property investing and real estate energy efficiency. In more detail:

Matthew Ulterino, Property Working Group Coordinator in UNEP Finance Initiative, spoke about UNEP FI’s efforts on bringing together major institutional and global investment players to promote responsible and sustainable property investing through structured initiatives and work. As an organisation, UNEP FI PWG is currently working with some of the top players in the international real estate market to develop guides and investment toolkits to facilitate investment capital and financing into new green and efficient buildings and to promote sustainable practices, similar to the ones proposed in the Paris COP21 Agreement for the building sector.

Berna Topaloğlu, Senior Energy Specialist in the European Investment Bank (EIB), highlighted the importance of sustainability for the Bank when considering financial support in large real estate development projects. She also explained the Bank’s financing criteria, when supporting sustainable property investments. The projects have to comply with the latest EED guidelines, local energy efficient building regulations and try to innovate with low carbon technologies in a commercial viable way. In addition, Mrs. Topaloğlu emphasised the necessity for energy efficiency and retrofit investments in the European building stock, since the built environment accounts for 40% of the energy consumption and related carbon emissions. She is also added that there is still a lot of work needed to be done on existing buildings in major cities and therefore we would need to overcome obstacles such as the short-term payback approach or the lack of understanding of the broader commercial benefits when implementing such projects.

Dave Worthington, Managing Director, Verco Global and Member of Executive Committee, ICP Europe mentioned that property companies across Europe are adopting more and more energy efficiency and sustainable investing practices, especially over the last five years. The investors are looking to have in their portfolios more certified buildings as “green” and at the same time save more money from their operations compared to the previous years. One major problem, however, is that buildings vary a lot, making it very difficult to perform like for like comparisons on their operational efficiency. It is also hard to standardise them. As an example, each office building, old or modern, has its own occupational requirements. And since we cannot standardise buildings, it is important to standardise processes and especially processes related to targeting finance for building energy efficiency projects. This is what ICP Europe is trying to achieve with its accreditation scheme in Europe. To standardise the whole business case development process based on a step-by-step approach to ensure an investment ready retrofit building project, properly thought through and mature enough to attract the right investment and suitably priced financing. Mr. Worthington concluded with some case studies and examples of European initiatives like SEAF e-Quad platform.