Handelsbanken´s first green loan for existing buildings to Vasakronan

Fastighet Vasakronan

Existing buildings are being financed with green loans

In April 2019, Handelsbanken granted its first green loan for existing buildings to the real estate company Vasakronan. The loan finances three existing buildings in Stockholm, Malmö and Uppsala, where Vasakronan has continuously worked with energy savings and ensured good possibilities to travel in a climate friendly manner. 

It is very important that older buildings decrease their climate impact if Sweden is to reach the long term goal of reducing emissions by 85 per cent before the end of 2045. Since the climate impact from construction has already occurred, energy consumption, energy sources and smart renovations that modernise and rejuvenate buildings are important. The EU has set a target that all buildings in Europe should be close-to-zero-energy buildings by 2050 and identified a big need for smart transport solutions, such as the possibility to charge electric cars, travel with public transport or choose a bike instead of a car.

Vasakronan works continuously with improving their existing buildings and Tobias Lindbergh, Head of Sustainable Finance at Handelsbanken Debt Capital Markets, asked their Sustainability Director, Anna Denell, and the Group Treasurer, Thomas Nystedt, to describe how they work with these issues.   

Anna Denell

What measures are important to take in order to reduce a building’s climate impact over time?

Anna Denell: For new buildings it is definitely the material that accounts for the largest part of the climate impact, but also transports to as well as machines on the construction site have a high impact. For existing buildings it is the energy consumption and choice of energy source that has the biggest effect. Therefore, all measures that can reduce the building’s energy consumption are essential, ranging from better isolation to energy efficient lightning and ventilation. However, the indirect impact is also important to consider, such as how the tenants travel to and from the building and the waste that they generate. 

One of the properties that was financed was Dragarbrunn 31:1 in central Uppsala, a building from 1957. How have you worked with improving this building over time?

Thomas Nystedt: In the property Dragarbrunn 31:1, or Svava as it is called, we have done large renovations connected to sustainability. We have for instance installed solar panels and a system for cooling recovery. We work very actively with encouraging tenants and visitors to travel to and from the property in a climate friendly way by providing good alternatives, such as bicycle parking, charging stations for electric vehicles and car pools. We are also reviewing the waste management. We have many different businesses in the property, such as restaurants, hotels, housing, offices and stores, which makes the waste management complex and it requires the right scale. 

Is it possible to reach the target that all buildings will be close-to-zero energy by 2050? What obstacles do you see? 

Anna Denell: A majority of the buildings have a good chance to meet the requirements. During the past eight years we have halved our energy consumption and the goal is to halve it again. We are also installing solar panels on almost every building. Solar panels are becoming more efficient and the technology is developing at a fast pace. We therefore see the opportunity to use the facades for energy production, not only the roofs.

Is it important that banks work with green finance? 

Thomas Nystedt: It is important that the banks contribute to the adaptation to a more sustainable financial market. By providing green loans, further incentives for companies to adapt their businesses and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals are created. 

It’s very important that the climate footprint of existing buildings is reduced. Energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy and property owners that provide and promote the tenants to use sustainable transport solutions is central.
- Tobias Lindbergh, Head of Sustainable Finance, Debt Capital Markets

Handelsbanken has worked with green loans since 2017.

Thomas Nystedt