HAMBURG-Which European countries embrace green leases? Which don’t? The answer to the first question is the UK and France. The answer to the second, alas, is Germany. Or at least, that is the result of a new survey from locally based Union Investment Real Estate GmbH. Overall, the survey reveals that there is still too little focus on how the corporate real estate user wants to implement sustainable practices in their office spaces.

“Users continue to be overlooked as part of the sustainability equation,” says Reinhard Kutscher, chairman of Union Investment. “The potential economic advantages of owners and property users working together on green issues is still given far too little consideration in the sustainability strategies of European real estate investors. While new ways of involving users more closely are being piloted in the UK and France, Germany is currently lagging behind in this regard.” The survey results are based on the opinions of 165 upper-echelon executives at real estate firms in Germany, France and the UK. It shows that 40% of owners in the UK and 70% in France are planning to introduce leases that include some sort of compliance language. That number drops dramatically when we get to France, where only 15% of owners are thinking green.

“Contractual agreements between landlords and tenants covering compliance with defined green standards during building operation and usage are still in their infancy in Germany,” says Kutscher. He thinks that only an “awareness of the economic contribution that sustainable and resource-saving management can deliver” will raise those returns.

But across the board, it seems, owners are seeing the sustainability initiatives of individual buildings within a wider portfolio context. Some 38% say they aggregate key building data on final energy consumption, lifecycle costs and waste volume at a portfolio level. That’s up from 34% in the last survey. Those same numbers apply to those owners who’s “sustainability platform forms part of an overarching corporate social responsibility strategy.” Not surprisingly, UK investors take the lead here, with 56% buying in.