The orange lion of ING is turning green. This year, ING Real Estate Finance, also known as ING REF, started the Real Estate Forest – in partnership with Trees for All.

ING REF has a clear ambition to become more sustainable. The real estate department of ING only finances sustainable real estate and/or real estate with a sustainability plan. Over 80% of the buildings that are financed by ING REF-already meet label A, B and C, meaning that ING REF is one of the frontrunners in the real estate sector.

“We’re pulling out all the stops with regard to sustainability and CO2 reduction”, says Bas Bordewijk, Sustainability Expert at ING REF. “We think it’s important that buildings in the Netherlands become greener. And preferably Paris Proof; which means that a building achieves almost zero carbon emissions. We’ve set 2040 as the deadline for our own premises (rented and our own property) and the premises of our customers.” To achieve this goal, ING REF is reducing its emissions of buildings that were financed by itself and wants to offset the emissions that can’t be reduced.

The idea was born: ING REF wants to plant the Real Estate Forest. But they can’t do this alone.

Successful partnership

So ING REF went in search of a partner who understood their goal and were able to help achieve it. “The priority was that action was taken on the basis of intrinsic motivation”, says Bas. The global aspect was also an important one. The world can only be helped through a global approach. Based on these principles ING REF chose to enter into partnership with Trees for All foundation.

ING REF provides funding and other donors for trees, which are planted by us in the Netherlands and in Bolivia. The aim for the Netherlands is to plant 75,000 trees, the first 30,000 of which will be panted in Limburg. For the certified offsetting of CO2, a location was chosen where larger volumes are possible and a broader socio-economic impact can be made: the project in Bolivia, where around 170 ha of forest and agroforestry are being created.

ING

Calling on the world of real estate

“ING REF is funding the Real Estate Forest in three ways”, explains Bas. “First of all, we’re actively looking for ambassadors who want to support the forest. In addition, we’re linking the Real Estate Forest to taking out new loans. We reduce the commission by 500 Euros, providing the customer contributes 1000 Euros to the Real Estate Forest. We also apply the same principle to the renewal of loans: the renewal commission is reduced by 175 Euros if the customer makes a donation of 350 Euros”. By doing it this way, thus by granting a ‘discount’ instead of ING donating itself, the certificates and tax benefit fully benefit our customers.”

Although the Real Estate Forest is an ING REF initiative, it is not exclusively for ING customers. Bas says, “Other parties from the real estate world are also very welcome to take part in our initiative. The more, the merrier. Or rather the more donors, the more trees, the bigger the Real Estate Forest and the greater the impact”.