Ton Rennen

Sustainability Analyst, Triodos Bank

In 2009, the Financial Times declared Triodos Bank the world’s most sustainable bank.

It is the mission of Triodos Bank to put its clients’ money to work to bring about positive social, ecological and cultural change. Triodos is the only bank that specialises in offering its clients the opportunity to invest in sustainable sectors in Europe through integrated loan and investment products. Triodos assesses a company’s sustainability performance in order to determine whether it can be added to the bank’s investment universe.
www.triodos.nl

Thinking about sustainable investment in the BAM Group? This has been an option since the summer of 2010 through one of Triodos Bank’s investment funds. Only companies performing better in terms of sustainability than other companies in the same sector are eligible for investment. They must also comply with the strict Triodos standards. At the Triodos office in Zeist – a sustainable building, of course – Ton Rennen, Sustainability Analyst, explains the research carried out before Royal BAM Group was admitted to the Triodos investment universe.

‘The assessment takes place in two stages’, explains Rennen. ‘In the first stage, we compare the company’s sustainability performance with that of its peers in the sector. We then examine three elements: corporate governance, social conduct and environmental conduct. These elements split into around eighty sub-headings, each weighted according to its individual importance. This ultimately results in an overall score and we then proceed with the top 50% in the sector. These companies are generally actively working on sustainability and communicate openly on the subject.’

‘Triodos is very strict in its assessments because our customers are interested in ‘conscious’ investment. In order to provide the opportunity for conscious investment, we carefully examine in the second stage whether the companies in the top 50% category comply with our criteria. BAM comes under the ‘Construction and Engineering’ sector where the main focal points are the formation of cartels, corruption, negative impact on the natural environment and environmental pollution. BAM passed the test, scoring above average for corporate governance and environment.’ What were the areas that could be improved? ‘Well, as market leader, BAM could play a more active role in sector initiatives to tackle environmental challenges, such as waste processing and reducing CO₂ emissions. These subjects also need to come into play when selecting, assisting and monitoring suppliers in order to ensure that they operate sustainably too.’

‘Contact with the sustainability experts at BAM went very smoothly. Our questions were immediately passed on further into the organisation. I have the impression that BAM makes very conscious choices in terms of operating sustainably. Things progress in phases, but still very thoroughly. BAM rightly regards sustainability as a business interest. The company is also open to discussion and prepared to admit weak points, which is an important precondition as it is a sign of open business operations.’

‘The thorough investigation into sustainable business operations showed that BAM scored highly, beating twothirds of its global competitors. I wouldn’t be surprised to see BAM leading the pack in the future. Where will BAM be in 2020? Well, from a diversity point of view, it would be nice if the questions at the 2020 Annual General Meeting were addressed to ‘Madam Chairman’,’ says Rennen with a wink. ‘But let’s not forget about linking salary structures not only to economic performance, but also to sustainability performance. Also, to be an environmental leader by then, everything you build will have to be energy-neutral.’