GERMANY - The German Property Federation (ZIA) has launched a voluntary sustainability code for developers, investors and owners, hailing it as a "milestone" in the country's journey to becoming the most sustainable property market worldwide.

The organisation, which developed the code over the last two years, said it was pursuing a two-pronged approach.

The first approach consists of set of principles for all real estate companies, while the second caters to individual companies based on their role in the market.

Reinhard Kutscher, chief executive at Union Investment Real Estate and executive board member of the federation, said: "This distinction is necessary, as, in the end, different sustainability criteria will be important for developers than for financiers or investors."

This second tier was split into seven groups, ranging from those who constructed real estate through to property managers, investors, financiers, end users who rent the properties, consultants and parties conducting research into the further professionalisation of the industry. 

The federation said that, while ecological factors played a role in its considerations, economic concerns, as well as the issue of corporate responsibility, also played a part in the code's development.

Outlining the nature of the voluntary code, unveiled last week at the Expo Real event in Munich, ZIA stressed that property companies should act based on high compliance standards and always strive to improve on these and be as transparent as possible, publishing goals and the methods undertaken to achieve them.

With this in mind, ZIA announced plans to examine the level of sustainability reporting in the industry, pledging to publish its own regular survey on the topic.

Thomas Zinnöcker, vice-president of the federation and chief executive at GSW Immobilien, said: "The topic of sustainability is today already from a purely economical perspective incredibly important for companies. Based on the sustainability code, it can now become part of a company's actions."

Werner Knips, overall head of the sustainability project and federation board member, added: "With the published sustainability code, we have reached the first milestone along the road to developing Germany as the most sustainable real estate market worldwide."