Data on the energy efficiency of real estate
Current developments in the mortgage business
Data on the energy efficiency of real estate are becoming increasingly important. They can be used when advising customers, in risk management and in disclosure. A number of providers offer services in this area that banks can call on as needed. In addition, the authorities are increasingly publishing fundamental data on the energy efficiency of individual properties and Switzerland’s building stock as a whole. This website is intended as guidance for our members. It does not give rise to any binding requirements.
Where can data on energy efficiency be used?
The data, and the tools used to analyse them, can be employed in a wide range of areas, from customer advice and risk management to disclosure. When advising mortgage customers, banks can use them to illustrate the energy efficiency of their property, the likely upgrades needed, and the spending potentially required to carry them out. Banks can also use the data to gain an overview of the energy efficiency of their own portfolio and develop targeted offerings based on that information. Finally, a number of Swiss banks have signed up to net-zero alliances or other initiatives to support the Paris climate goals. Depending on the standard, the duties these impose include setting specific reduction targets and reporting regularly on the progress made (such as the reduction in the CO2 emissions financed). This too requires the availability of relevant data.
Collect directly or acquire from elsewhere?
If a bank decides to supplement its own data with information on energy efficiency, one option is to obtain this from registers that are in the public domain (see below).
In the context of new business, it can be obtained as part of the normal checks. Borrowers could also be asked to provide the Cantonal Energy Certificate for Buildings (CECB) or Minergie certificate, if they have one. The CECB is a label indicating the energy efficiency of a building’s envelope and technology on a scale comprising seven classes, from A to G. In a number of cantons, the certificate is a requirement for property owners applying for funding to carry out energy efficiency improvements. The Minergie building standard covers the building envelope, energy supply from renewables, and air exchange.
What is the federal government doing?
The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the State Secretariat for International Finance (SIF) have conducted the climate goal alignment test since 2017, and added a module for real estate and mortgages in 2020. Every two years, banks and insurers are invited to measure the CO2 emissions of their mortgage portfolios on a voluntary basis, and have them compared with the climate target for the domestic building stock. The methodology, which was developed by Wüest Partner, is available licence-free to all interested banks and other players on request.
What datasets are in the public domain?
One source of public domain data is the Federal Register of Buildings and Dwellings (RBD). This lists the building category, year or period of construction, dimensions and heating system for every property in Switzerland (see the overview of RBD data). The information is also available to third parties (see the instructions from the Federal Statistical Office). However, the quality, completeness and up-to-dateness of the data varies from canton to canton. The Federal Statistical Office has published a progress monitor for heating systems data.
In the near future, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) and the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) plan to use the RBD data to calculate the CO2 emissions for every property in Switzerland and publish them (together with a colour scale similar to that used by the CECB) on the Maps of Switzerland site operated by the Federal Office of Topography swisstopo. There are also plans to make this information available to third parties via an interface. Properties built to the Minergie standard have already been integrated and can be searched for. There is currently no publicly accessible CECB register, except for the canton of Lucerne.
Datasets with public-law relevance
What technical issues need to be borne in mind?
If the data on the bank’s website are supplemented with public information, it is essential to ensure that there are no conflicts when aligning the various datapoints. This means that the property addresses used in the bank’s core systems must match the official street and locality designation (post code, town/city, street and house number). Alternatively, the bank may wish to consider using the federal building identifier. Some of the required data reconciliation can be carried out by third parties using geodata.
What are third-party providers doing?
A number of providers have begun marketing software-supported analytics tools. These help banks and other mortgage lenders to determine the energy efficiency of individual properties or the entire financed mortgage portfolio. They measure or estimate the CO2 emissions per square metre of energy reference area. Often, properties are also classified on the basis of their energy efficiency, with the classes in the CECB normally serving as a template. Additionally, some analytics tools make an initial assessment of the upgrading and renovation needed to optimise energy efficiency, in some cases also incorporating the capital spending costs, savings potential and grants available.