Urban Chronicles™ meets Fabrice Doiteaux, office assets director at SOFIDY. What perspective will the “décret tertiaire” bring to the energy transition strategy? The “décret tertiaire” (or tertiary decree in english) that became effective in France in 2019 requires tertiary buildings to reduce their energy consumption by 40% by 2030 (compared to 2010). How will the dialogue between landlords and tenants be articulated? What are the opportunities offered by the “décret tertiaire”? Find out the answers to these questions in this dedicated interview.
Green Soluce: Can you introduce SOFIDY and your activities?
Fabrice Doiteaux: SOFIDY has been part of the TIKEHAU CAPITAL group for two years. It is an asset management company mainly operating in the collective management of real estate funds (SCPI, OPCI, property, SCI, OPCVM, etc.). It is established in France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. SOFIDY now intends to expand its activity on the equity market. The value of our assets under management amounts to nearly €6.1 billion, including more than 4,200 real estate assets in France and Europe.
Our major shareholder, TIKEHAU CAPITAL, is highly involved in ESG management. The group has a department focused on the analysis of ESG criteria and owns a fund specialized in energy transition companies. Naturally, SOFIDY is following this path and wants to position itself as a leading player in the field of ESG management and energy transition.
GS: What are the energy transition challenges for SOFIDY? Prior to the “décret tertiaire” regulation, had you already taken steps to start this energy transition?
FD: At SOFIDY, we have several areas of business expertise and therefore several reading grids and fields of action. We have three levers of action: as a company, as a manager of financial and real estate wealth solutions, and as a real estate asset manager.
We are now moving towards the SRI labelling of several of our funds and savings solutions with ASPIM, our reference association, which is drawing up a SRI charter and label.
As far as our real estate assets are concerned, we have very concrete actions with the “décret tertiaire” as a guideline.
While the energy transition is indeed a requirement for all landlords, at SOFIDY, we do not see it as a new regulatory constraint but rather as a necessity. The real estate sector accounts for nearly 45% of energy consumption in France. In order to reduce consumption, we cannot contemplate the idea of demolishing existing assets and rebuilding them from scratch, the environmental impact would be disastrous.
The only solution is therefore to ensure the proper transformation of the existing estate in order to make it both less energy consuming and more respectful of users’ needs in terms of comfort and well-being.
Before the “décret tertiaire” regulation, we began with systematizing the energy audit of our largest acquisitions, taking into account environmental and regulatory aspects.
We have also built an internal scoring grid that will be the starting point for our management actions. Our goal is to improve the average score of our assets on a like-for-like basis. The objectives of the “décret tertiaire” are therefore perfectly integrated into our processes.
GS: In your opinion, what new perspectives will the “décret tertiaire” bring to your strategy ?
FD: The “décret tertiaire” will act as a powerful benchmarking tool on the real estate aspect, going beyond the labels and certifications of buildings.
Moreover, the “décret tertiaire” will highlight the importance of a good knowledge of owned estate for landlords. It should also make it possible to create a new communication between landlords and tenants from a non-financial angle, oriented towards user comfort and the achievement of a common goal.
Moreover, with the pandemic we are going through, we will undoubtedly draw conclusions and establish new acquisition criteria in which the resilience of assets and the well-being of users will be preeminent.
GS: As the regulations leave full freedom in the distribution of responsibilities, how do you envisage the dialogue with your tenants?
FD: With regards to the distribution of responsibilities, we believe that the quality and consistency of communication is at the heart of the success of the “décret tertiaire” objectives. Indeed, we estimate that one third of the 40% reduction objective by 2030 can only be achieved with better knowledge of the occupied building and with simple eco-gestures, the same ones we apply in our homes on a daily basis.
To this end, we have drawn up a building user guide for our tenants, a real manual for their offices. This guide helps to raise tenant awareness by reminding them of the carbon impact of our daily activities and proposes simple gestures to reduce this impact.
Nevertheless, we cannot ask our tenants to bear 100% of the responsibility to achieve this target, especially since the timeframes are different between a new lease that may end in three years and a target set for 2050.
The second fundamental lever of action in the achievement of the objectives is the work carried out by the landlord. It is therefore up to the landlord to retain this responsibility and to provide its tenants with a high-performance and welcoming building.
GS: Beyond the regulatory constraint, to what extent does the “décret tertiaire” represent an opportunity for you?
FD: Currently, there are a multitude of different labels and certifications that do not have benchmarks to assess an asset’s ESG performance.
Even if the GRESB and soon the SRI label, developed by the ASPIM, will make it possible to compare funds, we believe that from 2021 a new form of benchmark will appear with, on the one hand, the assets that will reach the objectives and benefit from a “green overvaluation” and, on the other hand, those for whom investments will be heavier and whose value will be impacted by a “grey discount”.
“The “décret tertiaire” is therefore an opportunity for us to show the resilience of our assets.”
GS: At what stage are you in your “décret tertiaire” process today? What feedback could you already pass on?
FD: We are convinced that the first significant step in this process is to collect data and monitor the assets in our real estate portfolio. This will allow, not only the landlords, but also the tenants to see in a tangible way what needs to be done.
For now, we have drawn up the list of assets eligible for the “décret tertiaire” (over 1,000 m²), which represents nearly 400 assets in our portfolio. We have also begun to integrate these assets on the application of a reference service provider in the field in order to obtain the energy consumption data.
This real-time monitoring will enable us to propose targeted action plans to our tenants and to establish very precise work plans in order to achieve the first objectives by 2030.
For now, we know that the first stage of collecting consumption data (that of the common areas and that of the tenants) is essential to determine the reference year and implement the OPERAT platform in 2021.
It is a long and tedious job involving several counterparts: trustee, property manager, tenants and energy suppliers, and unfortunately the period does not lend itself very well to this task.
Interview by Chloé Bouverat-Bernier and Laura Mauger for Urban Chronicles™.
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