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 page 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 a building certificate if they have one.
Building labels in Switzerland
What is the federal government doing?
The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the State Secretariat for International Finance (SIF) have conducted the PACTA Climate Test since 2017, and added a module for real estate and mortgages in 2020. Every two years, all Swiss banks, insurers, asset managers and pension funds are invited to measure the CO2 emissions of their real estate and mortgage portfolios on a voluntary basis, and have them compared with the climate targets for the domestic building stock. The methodology, which was developed by Wüest Partner on behalf of the FOEN, 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 building, 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 (FSO)). However, the quality, completeness and up-to-dateness of the data varies from canton to canton. The FSO has published a progress monitor for heating systems data. It FSO is also working to improve the quality of climate and energy data on an ongoing basis using secondary data, including those from combustion inspections, building certificates and funding programmes.
The authorities additionally began publishing the CO2 emissions (under standard conditions) of all residential properties in Switzerland on the “Maps of Switzerland” website in March 2023. Third parties can also access this information via an interface. The values shown are based solely on emissions from burning fossil fuels (scope 1) to begin with. Emissions from electricity and district heating consumption (scope 2) can be expected to be included at a later date. A concept for this purpose is currently being worked out. It must also be borne in mind that the quoted emissions estimates are based on the RBD data. Since these are not always up to date, the source and the date of the most recent update are shown for each estimate.
The site also includes an interactive CO2 emissions calculator that shows how changing the heating system or carrying out an energy efficiency upgrade can affect a building’s carbon footprint (again under standard conditions). The FOEN has published a topic page containing detailed information on the “Maps of Switzerland” site and the CO2 calculator.
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.