Birgit Adelsberger

Vindobona Blog

Austrian Group Shows at Expo Real 2023 how Sustainable Real Estate Works

More+More+ ♦ Published: October 8, 2023; 13:37 ♦ (Vindobona)

Sustainability was a big topic at this year's Expo Real in Munich. Many of the conferences, which again featured high-caliber participants, addressed the topic of ESG (Environmental Social Governance) in connection with the various aspects of the real estate industry.

Entrance of Expo Real 2023 / Picture: © / Birgit Adelsberger

During a panel discussion moderated by Andreas Ewald (Founding and Managing Partner of Engel & Völkers Hotel Consulting GmbH EVHC) on the topic of hotel financing with regard to ESG requirements, Roland Paar (Managing Partner of SoHospitality (Soravia), Vienna, Austria) brought up two projects that live sustainability with the significant involvement of Soravia Group.

Using the example of Ruby Hotels, in which the group holds a stake, Roland Paar provided fascinating insights into the industry and the challenges posed by ESG when developing a hotel project or converting an existing building into one. Even if questions about the rationale behind some of the standards arise (What changes in the function of a door if it serves as a doorway in a new hotel instead of in an old office building?), Mr. Paar repeatedly emphasized the importance attributed to sustainability in Soravia Group.

Like the other participants - Manuel Ehlers (Head of Sustainable Property, Triodos Bank, Berlin), whose bank only finances sustainable projects, Ufi Ibrahim (CEO, Environment & Energy Alliance EEA, London) and Jean Jacques Morin (Group Deputy CEO and Premium, Midscale & Economy Division CEO Accor, Paris) - Roland Paar confirmed that it is a false belief that meeting ESG standards is too costly. Quite the opposite: for example, it can reduce energy costs, which are a growing financial burden. Also, ESG compliance is now an important prerequisite for approval of financing. "Meeting the ESG standards means doing business in a smart way" says Ufi Ibrahim.

Uniform was also the desire of all those represented on the panel for a uniform and clear answer to the question: What exactly does ESG conformity mean? Which standards must the project at the given location with the given dedication actually comply with exactly? Why do the relevant standards often vary so much from region to region?

Ufi Ibrahim asked another interesting question: “How many of your employees are trained in ESG? “.... While partly there was some hesitation here, the convinced spontaneous answer from Roland Paar was: "Everyone on the board of SoHospitality has to go through ESG trainings".

As another example of the importance of sustainability for Soravia Group, Mr. Paar mentioned the Robin project in Seestadt in Vienna. Here, buildings are being constructed based on the concept of the Austrian 2226AG: without air conditioning or heating a pleasant 22 to 26 degrees room temperature are provided year-round. By not using gas or district heating, there are no CO2 emissions and a considerable saving in operating costs.

The message the author took away from this exciting panel discussion: A lot is being done in the area of sustainability, much of it in Austria as well. This cannot only be combined with economic efficiency and cost effectiveness - it is a prerequisite for it. We can look forward to the future again.

The author would like to make a personal comment: as an Austrian and a great lover of nature, I am proud of how strongly our small country is represented in the topic of environmental protection around real estate.

Birgit Adelsberger