Sustainability

Sustainability is a key aspect of Gladsheim’s work.

The information below is taken from the annual report for 2020.

The aim of our sustainability programme is positive impact on our tenants, shareholders, suppliers, employees and society in the communities where we operate. Social responsibility and sustainable development are important not only to ensure that Gladsheim is a strong market player: they are also crucial to long-term development. Economic, environmental and social factors are the foundation of Gladsheim’s sustainability programme.

It is fundamental that Gladsheim’s business is run responsibly, not only for the company’s own development, but also to live up to the company’s responsibility to its owners, employees, tenants and society in general. The ambition is that Gladsheim will continue to grow. For this to be possible, the sustained trust of the aforementioned stakeholders is essential. For Gladsheim to deliver long-term and profitable growth, the company’s growth must be sustainable.

There are several focus areas central to the sustainability programme: the long-term approach, satisfaction and pride. Gladsheim is committed to being a long-term property company with stable cash flows that make investments in properties and our people possible. This in turn generates satisfied and happy tenants and employees who want to stay with Gladsheim. Our tenants should be happy with us not only because their homes meet high standards, but also because the properties are developed with focus on sustainability. We are working hard to make tenants and employees proud of Gladsheim’s contributions to sustainable development.

Gladsheim reviews its policies and guidelines every year. In so doing, we ensure that our policies and guidelines remain relevant and fit for purpose. All sustainability and ESG efforts at Gladsheim are based on our sustainability and ESG policy established by the board of directors.

Gladsheim will continue the work to embed the sustainability perspective in the entire company, and this will be the foundation of all work with governance, strategy, operations and objectives. The sustainability and ESG programme will focus on the areas where we believe we can make the greatest difference. Reducing our environmental and climate impact is a central tenet of the investments planned in the longterm budget for 2020–2024. Gladsheim is focusing mainly on saving energy, where we are working with the properties as a whole and our individual apartments. We are taking actions including replacing central heating boilers, installing sensor-controlled LED lighting in stairwells, improving insulation and similar measures. When we renovate apartments, they become more energy efficient.

Going forward, sustainability and ESG efforts will also be built on setting quantifiable targets to ensure definitive tracking of actions taken and their outcomes. One example of this is our work with Green-Building certification, which requires taking action to reduce energy use by 25 percent. Gladsheim aims to certify the first building in 2021. A focused and goal-oriented sustainability programme will enable Gladsheim to grow on the strength of quality.

Gladsheim’s programme is based on three areas: economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Economic sustainability

Gladsheim is committed to generating good property investment outcomes through efficient property management. Satisfied customers, who continue living in Gladsheim’s properties are essential to long-term economic sustainability. Ensuring economic sustainability thus becomes also a matter of ensuring that our tenants remain satisfied and are happy with us as a landlord.

Gladsheim is present and easy to reach in all locations, providing fast and expert service

Making the right acquisitions is a key aspect of maintaining stable finances. Gladsheim acquired three portfolios in the last year and will be acquiring new properties in the future. We review multiple factors to make sure we make the right acquisitions. Gladsheim uses a scoring model to assess interesting locations. The model assesses several factors in the following categories: geographical location, demographic and economic conditions, property market, business climate, sociology, culture and history, general impression of the town and documentation. Each potential investment is thereafter analysed individually, based on how well the portfolio fits the Gladsheim model. Gladsheim will further develop sustainability- specific criteria in the selection of locations and specific investments in 2021. Aimed at ensuring economic sustainability, Gladsheim also has a target of maintaining a loan-to-value ratio that does not exceed 60 percent over the long term. We refinanced several loans in 2020 and successively increased fixed interest terms to an average duration of about three years to improve economic sustainability. Ensuring that our tenants are satisfied and happy with us is fundamental to achieving sustainable finances. Consequently, it is essential that Gladsheim is present and easy to reach in all locations, providing fast and expert service. Gladsheim has its own personnel in the majority of our locations and is aiming to have its own personnel to the greatest extent possible.

We ensure that our tenants have satisfactory payment capacity through customary credit checks before a rental agreement is signed.

Regularly ensuring that we have a good understanding of what our tenants think and feel is an important aspect of maintaining tenant satisfaction. We distribute surveys and engage in ongoing personal contacts to ensure that we are aware of tenants’ ideas and suggestions for improving our service and our properties. The first tenant survey was performed in late 2019 in partnership with AktivBo. We worked with the results of the customer survey in 2020 and prioritised the issues our tenants told us are most important to them. We have already implemented several of the measures they suggested, such as smartening up common areas, extending telephone hours for customer service and making self-service via our website easier.

AktivBo is a firm that helps landlords perform tenant surveys and compile the information gathered. Gladsheim conducts tenant surveys every other year in partnership with AktivBo and works with the results for the next two years. The results of the surveys are reported to the entire company as well as external property management partners in locations where this is relevant. We do this to ensure that every employee and service provider thoroughly understands what is important to our tenants. For our tenants to be satisfied and happy with us, it is fundamental that the entire company is working towards the same goals.

Social sustainability

Gladsheim’s goal is that people should perceive our properties and their immediate surroundings as nice places to be. It is also important to us that our employees are happy and have a good work environment. Our work with social sustainability thus involves social sustainability for our employees, our tenants, and the communities in which we do business.

Our employees are incredibly important to us and our customers, as it is they who make sure our tenants are pleased with the properties. Gladsheim’s employees should be proud of their workplace. It is thus imperative that our employees enjoy working for Gladsheim and feel empowered and happy with us. The board of directors adopted a number of policies related to HR matters during the year and efforts with workplace-related issues continued in 2020 to ensure that Gladsheim is and remains a popular workplace. You can read more about our efforts related to employee satisfaction in the section Employees below. Gladsheim initiated a more systematic HR process in 2021 that includes fitness and wellness benefits, regular performance appraisals and management based on individual goals. Gladsheim is also committed to improving social conditions for our tenants. Being readily available and engaging in ongoing dialogue with tenants are central to this effort. We improved accessibility during the year through our website, where we have now integrated a new property system that allows our tenants to submit fault reports around the clock. We have also extended our telephone hours and can be reached through several different social media. Gladsheim is also working continuously to increase tenant satisfaction and peace of mind. Efforts during the year included repainting numerous stairwells to make our common areas more pleasant for our tenants. All renovations of indoor and outdoor common areas are based on a design manual. Produced in partnership with a firm of architects, the design manual is intended to make the look and feel of all Gladsheim properties more consistent and optimise the process, since materials have already been chosen and other decisions have already been made. When we renovated the stairwells, we also offered our tenants the option of having new soundproofed security doors to their apartments installed. Keypad door locks to building entryways have been installed in several locations to enhance safety and peace of mind. We have also inspected and upgraded outdoor lighting around our properties so that all tenants can feel safe near their homes at all times.

Gladsheim is committed to contributing to progress in the neighbourhoods and communities surrounding our properties by creating a sense of well-being and peace of mind for our tenants. With that in mind, Gladsheim participated in several meetings with local representatives in the towns where we operate. We have engaged in dialogue with municipal representatives and the police so that we will be able to continue active efforts in the future to improve well-being and peace of mind. Gladsheim is also a member of property networks with other property owners, business representatives, politicians and public officials in our operating locations. The networks hold regular meetings to deal with issues of community development, local business, crime prevention, safety and actions to promote social sustainability.

Everyone should be able to enjoy and feel safe in their home environments

We will maintain sharp focus on efforts to build safe and pleasant communities in 2021. Everyone should be able to enjoy and feel safe in their home environments – inside their apartments, in their neighbourhoods and in their towns and cities. In addition to our partnerships with other local forces, we are working actively to improve our own outdoor environments and enhance tenant peace of mind and satisfaction with our properties through good lighting and creating a safe and inviting atmosphere. Creating natural gathering places for our tenants is an important aspect of this.

Gladsheim is also committed to a professional and objective selection process for our tenants in which there is no place for discrimination or unequal treatment, which we have assured through the established letting policy. Tenant selection must be based on an unbiased assessment and it is important that no one is disadvantaged in the selection process based on ethnicity, religion, gender, transgender identity, sexual orientation, disability or age. To prevent such discrimination, Gladsheim uses a queue system in which applications are put on the waiting list in the order in which they are received.

Environmental sustainability

Gladsheim’s impact on the environment is an area where we have a huge opportunity to make a difference. We have three focus areas in our environmental programme: reducing carbon emissions, energy conservation and water conservation. By running the business in a resource-efficient way and applying the most low-energy solutions possible, we are creating value for ourselves, our tenants, society and the environment.

Reducing travel and transport of materials are the main thrust of our efforts to reduce carbon emissions. This includes encouraging Group employees to travel by train whenever possible. Otherwise, carpooling is a high priority. Transports also refer to day-to-day property management and tasks are planned based on geographical locations so that property managers do not travel to different parts of the town in question every day, but instead plan to carry out management of properties that are near each other, which saves time and reduces emissions. The total cost is always the focus of the choice of materials/purchasing based on the following areas: price, quality, service, the environment and logistics. Environmental impact is a key component of the product selection process.

Gladsheim’s property portfolio consists of mainly somewhat older properties in which the energy consumption is higher than in more recently developed properties. Reducing energy consumption is the area where Gladsheim has the best potential to make the biggest green impact. Accordingly, energy-saving measures have been prioritised in terms of investments in the properties. Gladsheim has chosen to concentrate on a certification system called GreenBuilding. GreenBuilding certification is based on a minimum energy reduction of 25 percent. Gladsheim has a target for the first properties to be GreenBuilding-certified before year-end 2021 and for 50 percent of Gladsheim’s total portfolio to be certified before the planned IPO in 2025.

Gladsheim initiated a number of actions towards the future certification effort during the year. A new energy tracking system was implemented during the year to enable careful monitoring of energy consumption in all properties. An action plan for future certifications has been prepared. Other initiated actions including replacing lighting with energy-saving sensor-controlled LED lighting. Gladsheim is focusing on energy-saving measures such as replacement of heating systems, windows and insulation.

Selecting responsible suppliers is another key component of the sustainability and ESG programme and it is important that our suppliers are also committed to responsible business. Entering into centralised agreements whenever possible is one aspect of that effort. This creates volume advantages and facilitates reduced environmental impact due to co-shipping. Centralised agreements also makes it easier for us to review our suppliers and, in so doing, ensure that our suppliers accept responsibility for the environment and for their employees. To the extent possible, Gladsheim also uses local suppliers. This not only reduces transport and the associated emissions, but supports a healthy local business community.

Gladsheim’s work with apartment renovations is a central aspect of the sustainability programme. We apply three apartment categories and adapt renovations to the condition of the apartments. Retaining equipment and fixtures that are still fit for purpose is important to us. When apartments are in good condition, we rent them as they are and do not renovate. In some apartments, some interior elements are in good condition and others need to be replaced. In this case, we adapt the renovations to the circumstances and preserve what we can in the apartment. Other apartments require total renovation and all interior fixtures and fittings are replaced. When we determine that renovations are required, the properties are also upgraded from a sustainability perspective. Accordingly, appliances are replaced with more energy-efficient alternatives, new low-flow taps are installed and bathtubs are replaced with showers to save water. Apartments are also renovated with a view to reducing required maintenance over time. This includes laying tile at the entrance to the apartment to reduce wear and tear on high-traffic surfaces. All walls are also painted instead of papered, which makes it easier to maintain individual walls when they need a bit of smartening up. An isolated wall or surface can be painted, instead of having to repaper an entire room, this makes maintenance work less extensive and reduces the need for materials, which results in lower emissions as well as more cost-effective maintenance.

Gladsheim applies three apartment categories and adapts renovations to the condition of the apartments. Retaining equipment and fixtures that are still fit for purpose is important to us.

Employees

It is important that the company has the capacity to recruit and retain employees with the right skills. Gladsheim is working non-stop to ensure that the company is an attractive workplace employees want to stay with. The main operational areas within the company are property management and projects. Accounting/finance and corporate communications are support functions. The skills and commitment of our employees are critical to the future development of the company and to ensuring high-quality property management and customer service.

Gladsheim’s employees are the core of the business and make-or-break for the company’s development. Good working conditions and a pleasant work environment are prerequisites for our employees to feel job satisfaction, have the courage to take initiative and feel personal responsibility for their individual career development as well as for the company as a whole. Gladsheim values the varied experiences and characteristics of our employees and recognises that they are a huge asset to the company. Equal opportunity and diversity are crucial to Gladsheim.

Doing our utmost to help our employees remain healthy is a priority for the company. Accordingly, we took numerous measures in 2020 to minimise the risk that our employees would be infected by Covid-19. We have made it possible for employees who work in the office to work from home to the extent preferred and created more space and opportunities for social distancing at the office for the people who chose to work there. For employees who work at our properties, we have provided protective equipment such as hand sanitiser and masks. We also moved our face-to-face meetings to digital to maintain cohesion. All employees were offered fitness and wellness benefits to give them favourable conditions for staying healthy.

Employee skills development is vital, both to ensure that our employees have the right skills and to give them opportunities for personal and career development so that they are happy with us and want to stay with us. Accordingly, employee participation in seminars and various work-related training is a high priority for the management. Annual performance appraisals are also carried out, at which each employee meets with their line manager to discuss their personal development goals for the next year and what Gladsheim can do as an employer to help them achieve them. The annual performance appraisal also gives employees the opportunity to share their ideas and preferences and otherwise address issues that concern their work situation or Gladsheim as a whole.

Gladsheim is committed to offering a good work environment to all employees and all forms of harassment, discrimination and bullying are prohibited. Gladsheim defends employees’ freedom of expression and right to union activities. There were no incidences of discrimination, bullying, or harassment reported during the year. Another aspect that Gladsheim emphasises is that it should be possible to combine work and family. The company is very understanding of employees’ needs to adapt their working hours at times to achieve balance in their personal lives. Everyone with managerial responsibility therefore works actively with their colleagues to make sure the individual employee achieves a successful work/life balance.