Befimmo is convinced that, in time, a proactive approach leads to a strong position in terms of reputation and improved profitability; since 2008 it has gradually evolved from a qualitative environmental policy to a true, proactive Social Responsibility policy, integrated into its overall strategy. It recognises that effective governance over the long term requires a committed approach, applying the precautionary principle, designed to anticipate its risks and control its costs. Indeed, identifying the risks that could affect Befimmo, it is putting in place the necessary measures to anticipate these risks and limit their potential impact. It undertakes to page 3 take account of the expectations of its stakeholders in devising its strategy and to establish an open dialogue and constructive consultation with them. Befimmo regards Social Responsibility as a part of its strategy, taking opportunities to improve its performances and create value in the medium and long term for all its stakeholders. Befimmo strives to differentiate itself and also to become a benchmark for Social Responsibility.
The Social Responsibility policy is publicly available on Befimmo’s website, in the section ‘Social Responsibility’.
The policy and commitment cover all of the activities of Befimmo SCA and its subsidiaries (hereafter Befimmo): “As an Asset Manager, Befimmo invests and manages an offices portfolio”.
On an operational level a distinction is made, for practical reasons, between the type of tenant:
- Building with multiple tenants (category M)
- Building with a single tenant (category S)
- Building with Buildings Agency tenant (Category B)
Befimmo has identified and prioritised 12 environmental, economic and social priorities, grouped into 4 main topics. The responses to these priorities are reflected in specific commitments and measures and their impacts, qualitative objectives that are increasingly quantifiable and measurable, set out in more detail in the Social Responsibility Programme prepared in cooperation with the management and its team.
The highest level of responsibility for the Social Responsibility policy is at the Board of Directors level. The company‘s Managing Director, Benoît de Blieck and the Chairman of the Board, Alain Devos, are both signatories of the Policy.
Today, Befimmo’s Social Responsibility is integrated in its daily management.
Befimmo staff are increasingly involved in this strategy, one way or another depending on their field of expertise, and are aware of the major impact of the real-estate sector on the environment.
For more information, please see to page 106 of the Annual Financial Report 2013, “internal organisation”.
Befimmo imposes minimum environmental standards for all the major refurbishment projects. This includes improving and going further than legal obligations on aspects such as: energy performance, eco-construction, water consumption, supply chain and generated waste. These requirements are transposed into the operational procedures of Befimmo’s Environmental Management System (EMS).
For existing buildings, Befimmo certified the entire portfolio (excluding Fedimmo) through BREEAM in-use, a certification standard specifically developed, and which is to be renewed on a yearly basis. Environmental criteria are judged on several aspects, depending on the particular project.
For major and minor refurbishments, the BREEAM certification is the guideline to determine which technical options to implement.
This attention for environmentally sound renovation led to the winning of the green renovation award attributed by the Brussels environmental agency (IBGE) in 2007 for the Empress Court project, for the Science-Montoyer project in 2009 and for the WTC IV project in 2012.
Additional details on specific projects can be found on Befimmo’s website, in the Chapter “Social Responsibility”, under the heading ‘certification/IBGE Awards’.
Electricity purchased for the common parts of buildings in category S and M is 100% green.
Befimmo strives to keep its buildings attractive to tenants, thereby maintaining as high an occupancy rate as possible in its portfolio, by continually investing in the renovation and redevelopment of its properties or improving their energy and environmental performances, to upgrade them or maintain them at a high level of quality.
To achieve this objective, Befimmo is putting in place a multi-annual investment plan to schedule and carry out work to optimise the sustainable performances of the properties in use (Befimmo portfolio excluding Fedimmo) and not undergoing major renovation.
In 2013, the budget for this is €1.8 million. For major renovations, part of the overall renovation budget is allocated to sustainable optimisation of the building. Accordingly, over the fiscal year Befimmo carried out investment works in its buildings at an overall cost of €54.8 million. Between 6 and 10% of this overall investment went to improve their environmental performances and thus respond to current and future legislation and also to tenants’ expectations.
Befimmo intends to continue with these initiatives. The budget in 2014 for investments related to operational buildings is slightly lower than the 2013 budget, however. This is explained by Befimmo’s intention to focus on and give priority to optimising existing technical installations rather than investing more in new installations.
Befimmo has developed an Environmental Management System (EMS), based on the ISO 14001 standard. The EMS is implemented at a strategic level for the activities “acquisition and management of office buildings”. The EMS was certified ISO 14001 compliant for the first time in September 2010 and this certification was renewed in October 2013.
At the individual building level, we consider that other standards developed specifically for building construction/renovation/management are more efficient and appropriate. Various standards exist in this field, and Befimmo has chosen to implement the guidelines as defined by BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment). BREEAM is a well established and international organisation, which is recognized worldwide. It has developed guidelines on different levels including specific guidelines for major renovations and for the management of buildings in use.
The operational procedures developed in the EMS are:
- Major refurbishment (including BREEAM certification criteria to be included as early as the design stage;
- Selection criteria for supply chain, including contractors;
- Responsibility of third parties working for Befimmo;
- Minor refurbishments;
- Energy management;
- Hazardous substances management (including asbestos, PCB, Ozone depleting substances);
- Waste management;
- Environmental documentation management;
- Environmental aspects of due diligence audits;
- Procedures of more administrative nature to ensure that environmental criteria are included there where necessary (e.g.: in contracts)
The environmental objectives and targets are part of the Social Responsibility Programme. Generally, these are mostly qualitative and quantitative of nature.
The EMS includes a procedure for internal audit and for monitoring. The EMS is will be regularly externally audited to verify that it is fully operational. The EMS includes a procedure for management review. Findings and conclusions of this review are fed back to the EMS, and where necessary existing procedures are adapted, or new procedures are created, to ensure that continuing progress is achieved.
The EMS covers all of Befimmo SA and its subsidiaries’ activities on a strategic level. On an operational level, procedures vary in function of the type of tenant, and hence the type of contractual relationship Befimmo has with its tenant. Where possible, Befimmo will try to sensitize the tenant on environmental matters.
Befimmo is implementing a digital document management system, to facilitate access and distribution of electronic documents.
Since many years, Befimmo has published a Social Responsibility report which is fully integrated in its Annual Financial Report. Befimmo also pays particular attention to the reliability of the reporting process and rigorous, accurate and transparent financial and nonfinancial communications.
The company does not publish a separate sustainability report, but dedicates a large chapter in its Annual Financial Report, to illustrate progress in this field.
In recent years, Befimmo has followed the trend towards standardisation of financial reporting and also reporting on Social Responsibility by subscribing to the indicators published by EPRA, the GRI guidelines and those for the real-estate sector, GRI-CRESS. This year, Befimmo decided to comply with the new version of GRI, “G4” for the whole of its report (“In accordance” - Core).
The GRI reporting guideline can be found in the appendix of the Annual Financial Report.
The report covers all of Befimmo SA and its subsidiaries.
The company reports on its environmental performance on a qualitative and quantitative level in its Annual Financial Report.
Befimmo tries to continually improve management of consumer data, or improve the quality of telemonitoring data, and improve the cross-referencing and consolidation of electronic billing data from network providers with data from telemonitoring.
Befimmo has the non-financial information audited every two years by an external auditor.
Information is accessible in Annual Financial Report, Social Responsibility chapter.
Not directly, although timber is used in major renovation projects.
Not known at this stage, but for major renovation projects Befimmo requires from its suppliers that at least 80% of timber used is FSC labelled.
- Paper acquired for internal printing/copying is FSC or PEFC-labelled.
- Print out of the Annual and Half-Yearly Reports (limited number of printing) on FSC or PEFC-labelled paper.
There are no allegations known to Befimmo.
Fossil fuels were used for building heating purposes. Since 2012, Befimmo has replaced remaining fuel heaters by gas fuelled heaters in all the buildings of its portfolio.
Emergency generators predominantly function on diesel
The main impact is related to the use of materials for renovation projects. The buildings of the Befimmo portfolio are located either in city centres or in business districts.
In October 2013, the labelling committee of ecological green spaces ("Espaces Végétales Écologiques") reallocated the Eve® label to Befimmo’s Goemaere site which was presented to the labelling audit, carried out by Ecocert. Indeed, this site - where Befimmo works continuously to manage and improve its biodiversity - has been found to comply with the requirements of the benchmark. Befimmo is proud to be the first company in Belgium to receive this certification. The Eve® benchmark is intended to promote environmental practices in the management of green spaces.
Similar studies could be conducted in the future for a number of sites, especially those in the Fedimmo portfolio that are located on a large area of land.
In compliance with applicable legislation, refrigerants used in air-conditioning units are monitored.
An asbestos inventory has been established by certified companies for all of Befimmo’s buildings. An asbestos management plan is in place.
The Company has identified some specific Company-wide CSR risks - compliance risk has been clearly identified as strategic risk. Befimmo identifies the risk linked to maintaining a good relationship with customers as part of mitigating the risk to rental income.
Furthermore, Befimmo dedicates a large chapter on risk factors in its Annual Financial Report. This information covers the identified risks that could affect the Company, including a description of a number of measures taken by the Company to anticipate and limit the potential impact of those risks
Befimmo commits to be responsible towards its stakeholders. It initiates unifying measures, the impacts of which are measured and designed to meet the expectations of its stakeholders. It seeks to strike a balance between the expectations of its various stakeholders and the challenges it regularly face.
Befimmo attaches great importance to the occupants and users of its property portfolio. It endeavours to retain its tenants by providing quality spaces that are easily accessible, with good environmental management and affordable.
Befimmo has a team of motivated professionals (commercial and technical staff, managers, etc.), whose goal is to improve the quality of “customer service”. Indeed, tenants’ satisfaction, the dialogue between the landlord and tenant as well as the safety and health of the tenants are priorities for Befimmo and are essential in the eyes of all its stakeholders.
Against that background, Befimmo has specific measures that it plans to implement, such as a new help desk, building a communication platform focused on tenants, etc. It has also decided to release additional financial resources to recruit two new employees with the task of achieving those goals
Furthermore, the integration in May 2013 of the property management business enabled Befimmo to have a more direct relationship with its tenants, allowing it to better anticipate their needs and to be more proactive in its efforts to raise their awareness of environmental issues. As a result of this integration, it has become the tenant’s everyday point of contact.
The involvement of the Befimmo team in Social Responsibility is crucial to the success of its global strategy. Staff awareness of and participation in conceptual work as well as their day-today contribution, is an essential element for achieving the objectives set. By providing a pleasant working environment, Befimmo helps to stimulate creativity and motivation in the team and enhances its commitment to the Company.
Since 2012, one person in the human resources department has been responsible, in cooperation with the CSR Manager, for raising awareness of the whole team of CSR topics, dealing with the follow-up of initiatives introduced and continuing to develop the strong corporate culture that exists within Befimmo.
Befimmo abides by the applicable legal requirements on governance and has devised a code of ethics setting out the values that are to govern relations with its stakeholders.
In terms of governance, Befimmo applies the Belgian Corporate Governance Code, which is its reference code, and pays particular attention to developments in this area.
For the prevention of conflicts of interest and market abuse, Befimmo is governed by the legal provisions applicable as a listed company and Sicafi, and by the additional rules it has laid down in its charter of corporate governance. Befimmo therefore imposes stricter requirements than the legislation where it deems appropriate.
The General Counsel & Secretary General (member of the Executive Officer Committee) is responsible for updating and compliance with the code of ethics and the charter of corporate governance. She also holds the position of Compliance Officer and, in that capacity, ensures compliance with internal rules and procedures to prevent the risk of market abuse.
Befimmo also pays particular attention to the reliability of the reporting process and rigorous, accurate and transparent financial and non-financial communications.
Befimmo has an advanced Code of Ethics. It has adopted a code which includes the Code of Ethics for all employees and the Corporate Governance Charter for directors, Executive Officers and anyone likely to have accessed to privileged information on account of their involvement in the preparation of a particular transaction. The code includes the following elements: commitment to obeying laws and regulations;
- prohibits giving and receiving bribes;
- restricts giving and receiving gifts;
- restricts facilitation payments;
- prohibits donations to political parties;
- addresses conflicts of interest;
- other significant aspects - insider trading, money laundering, and financing terrorism
Befimmo has communicated the Code to its employees (through the intranet) and made it publicly available on the corporate website.
The implementation of the Code of Ethics contains the following elements:
- compliance monitoring;
- provision of whistle blowing procedures.
As at 31 December 2013, Befimmo
- has a separate Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO);
- has 9 non-executive directors, of which 6 independent directors who meet the criteria of article 526ter of the Code of Company Law and 2 directors linked to a shareholder;
- discloses the remuneration of Company directors.
The Company has an Audit Committee, the majority of whose members are independent nonexecutives - two out of three members.
Befimmo's Appointments and Remunerations Committee is responsible for the implementation of Directors' nomination and remuneration policies.
The Board of Directors has therefore adopted:
- the Corporate Governance Charter;
- the by-laws of the Board of Directors;
- the Code of Ethics.
There are also by-laws for the Managing Director, the executive officers and each committee:
- by-laws of the Executive Officers;
- by-laws of the Appointments and Remunerations Committee;
- by-laws of the Audit Committee.
The Corporate Governance Charter, these various by-laws and the Code of ethics are published on Befimmo’s website.
Moreover, Befimmo dedicates a large chapter regarding the Corporate Governance in its Annual Financial Report.
Befimmo has a low potential risk of bribery occurring. It is not significantly exposed to high risk business activities or countries.
Befimmo has an anti-bribery policy. This includes the following elements:
- prohibition of giving and receiving bribes;
- obeying laws and regulations.
In addition to this, it has the following elements:
- restriction of facilitation payments;
- restriction of giving and receiving gifts;
- board level commitment - the Code of Ethics and the Corporate Governance Charter were adopted by the Board of Directors;
- prohibition of political donations.
Befimmo has made its policy publicly available.
Befimmo has system for implementing its anti-bribery policy. This includes the following elements:
- communication of policies to employees;
- compliance monitoring, including details of assurance, audits, monitoring, board reports etc. - by the compliance officer and the audit committee.