Sustainable Offices, Green Loans and Inflation
Photo by Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock.com
That the pandemic has changed the way we think about where and how we work is beyond doubt. Office layouts now prioritize communal areas, while OfficeTech increasingly smoothes our way through contactless (and thus COVID-compliant) operations. But pity the office equipment manufacturers who saw the use of their machinery fall off a cliff as the Work From Home Movement took off, even as they picked up sales from those bringing their home office up-to-date.
Perhaps a more interesting trend is revealed in this issue’s special report, however. While the coronavirus seems to have accelerated the move away from using printers as a paper output source, it has also shepherded in greater use of their scanner functions for digital inputs. It seems that if digitalization doesn’t get you one way, it will another!
The slow demise of the paper office may not have reached warp speed yet, but it is clearly part of an intensified desire to see greater sustainability across all aspects of modern business. That’s certainly the backdrop against which we should view our cover story, the news that the European Investment Bank, one of the largest supranational lenders in the world, has signed a deal to provide Hungary with the not insignificant amount of EUR 300 million.
What makes the financing really significant, however, is that this is the EIB’s first green loan anywhere in Central and Southeastern Europe. The money will go to the Ministry of Finance and be used to co-finance its Home Renovation Program, which offers homeowners HUF 3 mln (about EUR 8,500) to boost energy efficiency. Given that Hungarian households consume 34% of the country’s total energy (ahead of transport or industry), and approximately 75% of homes across the EU are lacking in energy efficiency, fixing that ticks important boxes at both state and bloc level on the route toward carbon-neutrality.
There’s a strong sustainability theme running throughout this issue. Our regular Green Matters column looks at the increasingly important role environmental certification and ESG plays even amongst property investors. We also feature Wizz Air’s new “Fly the Greenest” campaign, as part of which CEO József Váradi has written urging people not to fly unless they need to, but to use his airline when they do so.
We might be heading inexorably, if not rapidly, towards a zero-emission future, but it doesn’t appear we will be seeing zero inflation rates anytime soon. Indeed, it has proven to be both less transient and faster-paced than many experts, including central bankers, predicted. That prompted policymakers at the National Bank of Hungary to deliver a bigger than expected rate hike this week, as detailed on the page opposite. The battle against inflation seems set to run for a lot longer yet.
This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of January 28, 2022.
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