Blog

The value of data

Author: Germien Cox, Madaster

Buildings have a large impact on quality of life, for their users as well as the local environment. It is a well-known fact that a valuable contribution to the Earth’s habitability can be made by using well-considered materials and making buildings more energy efficient, both now and in the future. It is, therefore, not surprising that the financing of sustainable real estate objects features high on the agendas of many banks. How are those banks working on the development of sustainable real estate? We directed this question at one of the greenest banks in the Netherlands: Triodos Bank.

Joep Peters is senior relations manager Sustainable Real Estate at Triodos Bank, who is working on the financing of special sustainable projects. He clearly remembers how, 5 years ago, Triodos Bank was the only bank that set preconditions related to energy labels on financing applications. Meanwhile, with a little bit of legislative help, this has become a mandatory element for all banks. How is Triodos Bank, as a green bank in 2018, shaping its development of sustainable real estate? Joep Peters replies: ‘At Triodos Bank, we have always had more than average attention for the —now mandatory— energy label. We believe that the buildings for which we supply financing should be good for the people who live and work there, or who are being cared for within them. Are these buildings healthy? How are they situated on their plot of land? What about the materials and natural resources that are used? Do the buildings have a material passport? We take all these important issues into account when assessing financing applications.’  

How important is the availability of a material passport to the assessment of such applications? Joep Peters: ‘People who are able to present us with a material passport are definitely considered as frontrunners. At this moment, we are looking at preconditions we would be able to set, with respect to this subject. This is also the reason why we are having a material passport made for our own current building. Triodos Bank mainly finances existing real estate. In this way, we obtain a greater insight into the process and are better able to determine which requirements we can or cannot impose.’

Could such frontrunners with a material passport eventually also benefit from lower interest rates or other interesting savings when applying for financing at Triodos Bank? Not necessarily, although, as Joep Peters replies, ‘At a minimum, it means that we would certainly be interested in financing such a building’. The material passport could thus be interesting, because without your building meeting a number of green criteria, you would not need to call on Triodos Bank for financing. ‘And’, Joep Peters continues, ‘if and when a material passport would provide insight into a building’s higher residual value, this would definitely be reflected in the appreciation of the particular real estate object. This, of course, is also interesting from a financial perspective.’

The need for more transparency in the world of real estate was an important reason for Triodos Bank to join Madaster as one of the first Kennedys. Moreover, of all the known initiatives at Triodos Bank, Madaster was the one with the highest potential. Joep Peters: ‘Madaster really starts at the beginning—at the building and the materials themselves. A wonderful basis, because data are enormously important. The more we know about a building, the better we are able to award value to it, and this truly has an impact on its financeability.’  

If it is up to Joep Peters, it would not end there. ‘Wouldn’t it be terrific if we could ultimately have a complete building passport? A fingerprint for the entire building; a document that provides insight not only into the materials used in it, but also in aspects such as real energy use, user satisfaction and maintenance history.’

Questions?

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