We continue our series on the links between real estate and heritage, which must be particularly virtuous in view of current issues.
The news, but it is a habit, is anything but cheerful. Russian-Ukrainian war which threatens to spread throughout Europe, climate change which creates an environmental crisis, health crisis...
And now we are suffering from soaring energy prices.
These difficulties remind us, in a violent way, how important it is to change our way of life... and urgently! Crazy capitalism, over-consumption, pollution, etc. are taking us straight to the wall. If everyone can do something, the question of the sustainability of housing and offices seems even more crucial. That's why we decided to talk about it with Serge Fautré, CEO of AG Real Estate.
Let's start by reminding you what AG Real Estate is. AG Real Estate is the real estate subsidiary of AG Insurance. Their ambition is to manage a portfolio of assets in an optimal and sustainable way. Both investors and developers, they work in Belgium (among others) in the interest of their clients and partners. To achieve this goal, AG Real Estate has several methods: they are involved in real estate development, investment and financing; they advocate PPP (public-private partnership); they also manage parking lots. Indeed, Interparking is a subsidiary (51%)
of AG Real Estate. In short, a company and a voice, that of Serge Fautré, its CEO, that counts.
Our interlocutor has been aware of the climate issue for a long time and AG Real Estate's commitment in this field goes back to about ten years: "It should be noted that in Brussels, a decisive impulse was given by the Minister of the Environment at the time, Evelyne Huytebroeck. Today, the performance of new buildings in Belgium has nothing to envy our neighbors, with the exception of the Scandinavian countries, which remain exemplary in this area.
If new buildings are more energy efficient, what is the reason? "The way we build and renovate has changed. Today, warehouses are very often covered with solar panels (...) Buildings are equipped with bicycle parking and electric car terminals (...). Parking lots filter out fine particles. Offices are being reorganized to accommodate telecommuting. Circularity is also developing. An example: our "Arlon-Trèves" building in Brussels, which dates back to the 1970s, is going to be rehabilitated instead of being demolished. This is the opposite of the "bruxellisation" of yesteryear. We would like to add that it is about time...
But let's come to the current events and the energy crisis. On this point,
Serge Fautré is very clear: "All energy investments are profitable. As for the impact on our users, it may result in additional costs for rental or purchase, but this is offset by the reduction in consumption and therefore in energy bills. This is food for thought and perhaps a way to reduce our bill.
However, there is still a problem: if, as we have seen, the new constructions have a good energy performance, there is still a whole "real estate" of old buildings that are particularly energy-intensive or, at least, with a high loss, due to the insulation techniques of the time. So what can be done? "Owners will have to act and this will not happen without the support of public authorities who will have to set up incentives for renovation. As for social housing, I believe that its renovation must become the priority of priorities.
The problem is complex. To get out of it, our leaders (at the Belgian but also European level) will have to act, and fast!
While we wait to learn more about AG Real Estate's contemporary philosophy, we invite you, the members of the LOBBY community, to take advantage of the natural energy transmitted by Éole and Hélios.