Energy check: rapidly determine the carbon and energy footprint of a property|

Energy check: determine the carbon and energy footprint of a building in no time at all

© Getty Images
In collaboration with
10.11.2022 | 6 minutes

When it comes to real estate, one of the most important tasks for owners is to plan for renovation in the longer term. Given the current energy crisis, practically all energy optimizations pay off. Steps to reduce energy consumption and to improve the carbon footprint of properties should therefore be taken now.

Energy check: simple and straightforward

The energy check was developed in cooperation with pom+ in order to provide homeowners with easy and reliable access to a tool for assessing their investment property. Even a few basic facts about the property are sufficient to assess the status quo and to identify renovation options. It is helpful to obtain a benchmark in relation to the rest of the building stock in Switzerland. Anyone who wants to minimize the risks and maintain the earning power of their property in the longer term should act now. Modern, sustainable solutions can be implemented thanks to smart planning and longer-term measures. We discussed the energy check with Dr. Johannes Gantner, Head of Service Unit Sustainability at pom+, to learn even more about the calculator, its benefits and how it differs from other tools.

UBS key4 mortgages: Mr. Gantner, what are the specific benefits of the energy check? Why is now the right time to check the energy consumption and the carbon footprint of buildings?

The legal requirements are gradually being tightened up. This applies to regulations drawn up by both the federal government and the cantons. Sooner or later, a new CO2 law will be put forward. In practice, we have seen that it is detrimental to value development if owners fail to act in good time. Their properties can suffer a loss in value if they do not meet the legal requirements.

Isn’t it the case anyway that all properties need to be comprehensively renovated at regular intervals?

Yes, that’s correct. An above-average proportion of buildings are now facing a major renovation cycle. This means extensive investments, such as improving the building shell, installing new windows, and often replacing the heating system as well. Every building goes through this evolution. It is important that as many owners as possible take the necessary steps before 2030. After all, Switzerland has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2030. If you wait, you must be prepared to pay more later.


Anything you fail to do now must be made up for in the future. The demands placed on buildings are constantly increasing. The aim is to achieve the overriding goals of Swiss climate policy in stages by the year 2050. This means that we are moving toward “zero emissions”.

Which buildings are at a higher risk of loss of value – those in rural areas?

The general rule for non-renovated buildings is that their value develops less favorably than the market as a whole. This is also true of urban locations, but we have to take into account the fact that the rental market plays an even greater role in the countryside. In rural regions, where vacancy rates are higher, owners may not be able to reflect the necessary investments in the rent they charge, either in part or in full. What is more, net returns deteriorate if incidental expenses or energy prices rise very sharply. In the countryside, several effects cumulate to reduce the capitalized income value of a property.

What are the specific benefits of the energy check?

Regardless of the age and condition of their property and whether they want to renovate rapidly or in three years’ time, owners must take stock of the situation and start planning. The energy check provides a report and an assessment of the condition of the property. This report definitely represents added value. Our aim is to give all owners access to a low-threshold tool that requires only a few details about the property. Based on this information, the energy check provides an initial assessment. The tool also gives two renovation options, including cost estimates.

Want to reduce CO2 emissions and save costs in the long term?

Complete the free energy check and receive an individual action plan to optimize the energy performance of our investment property.

Isn’t a more detailed analysis by a specialist on the spot sometimes necessary? Or an official report according to the Swiss cantonal energy certificate for buildings (GEAK plus)?

The cantonal energy certificate for buildings is undoubtedly a good thing and provides essential information. However, we find that in practice, the obstacles to obtaining it are relatively high. Many owners are hesitant, or sometimes don’t have all the necessary documents or sufficiently detailed figures on energy consumption. This is exactly where the energy check comes in. Only a few details are needed to obtain an initial assessment of the property. The second step is then for the owner to take a closer look at what needs to be clarified and what course of action makes sense.

How would you explain the energy check to a layman? What data or calculations does the tool work with?

Firstly, it incorporates building data from over 10,000 properties in Switzerland. Secondly, there are certain standard modules that help us. For example, if you know the previous heating oil consumption of a property, you can use it to determine the CO2 emissions of the building. Then, of course, we work with recognized figures that show the savings that can be achieved by carrying out renovation work and refurbishments or replacing the heating system.

What is the feedback like in practice? Are many owners surprised because they need to carry out more renovation work than they suspected?

In fact, people often think that a kind of superficial renovation will do. From a professional point of view, it is obvious that if we want to achieve the longer-term goals for reducing greenhouse gases, individual measures to renovate properties are not enough. More substantial investments are needed, but these too can be staggered.

About the interviewee

Dr. Johannes Gantner
Head of Service Unit Sustainability at the consulting firm pom+ in Zurich

Dr. Johannes Gantner is Head of Service Unit Sustainability at the consulting firm pom+ in Zurich. He studied civil engineering and environmental sciences at the University of Stuttgart and joined pom+ as a Senior Consultant in 2018. He has headed the Sustainability department since 2019. He also holds a Master’s degree in sustainable energy management and energy technology.

Energy check: collect and evaluate data now

The energy check from UBS key4 mortgages and pom+ can be carried out conveniently from home. A few essential details about the property are sufficient, such as the year of construction, the address, the rentable surface area and the type of use. Ideally, consumption data for heating, hot water and electricity should also be available.

20-page report

Users receive a 20-page report with the results. This allows them to draw direct comparisons with the rest of the building stock in Switzerland, i.e. it represents a benchmark for assessing the situation of their property. In addition, the report suggests two renovation options and explains their cost implications. These scenarios can be used to calculate how the energy footprint could be improved and CO2 emissions reduced. Specific operational optimizations, improvements and renovations to the building and energy technology are also shown.

Setting the right course

The energy check provides essential information that enables owners to correctly assess the initial situation of their building and to prepare the next steps toward climate neutrality. In this way, homeowners and investors can not only make an important contribution with regard to climate policy, but also play a decisive role in ensuring the long-term profitability of their real estate investment.

Was this article helpful?
Thanks for your vote!

Straight to a non-binding interest rate indication

This could also interest you

Interest rate forecast for companies

UBS Swiss Real Estate Bubble Index