Noah Steinberg - Top 50 Executives in Real Estate Businesses 2023
Top 50 Real Estate Executives 2023 is a special annual publication of the BBJ Budapest Business Journal, which presents the profiles of the most influential real estate executives working in the Hungarian economy. Noah Steinberg, CEO and Chairman of WING is included in this list. In an interview he explains what he sees as the biggest challenges in today's real estate market, why ESG reporting is important, and he discusses WING's environmental activities.
Noah Steinberg has been chairman and CEO of Wing since its foundation in 1999. He is also the chairman of the supervisory board of the company’s Polish subsidiary Echo Investment and its German subsidiary Bauwert. He originally planned to pursue a career in international politics, studying at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in the United States, followed by further studies at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. He is fluent in five languages: English, Hungarian, French, German and Spanish. An avid rower, he competed as a member of his university’s crew team while studying in the States. In his free time, Steinberg enjoys spending time with his children.
What is your company doing to reduce its carbon footprint during new projects?
We design and develop best-in-class properties to be efficient and functional today and in the future, thereby creating long-term value and reducing adverse environmental impact. All our newly developed office buildings have Breeam or Leed certifications. We are also looking to certify our entire industrial portfolio and are at the forefront of sustainability solutions in our residential, hotel and retail buildings. Our sustainable approach is also reflected in our latest projects, including the renovation of the Liget Center, one of the gems of 20th-century modern Hungarian architecture in the heart of Budapest, which will become the new headquarters of RTL Hungary from 2024. This project involves advanced solutions, including heat-pump heating and cooling, solar panels, triple-layer glazing, a building surveillance system, and additional thermal insulation of the building structure.
“We are now preparing our ESG strategy, and we were among the first in Hungary to publish a comprehensive report on our accomplishments and objectives in terms of environmental, social, and corporate governance.”
Another example is the Gizella Loft in Hungária Office Park, rebuilt in 2021 as a premium office building in line with the standards of circular architecture, with the lowest possible environmental impact. We are now preparing another building in the Hungaria Office Park with a similar approach as a new headquarters for Lightware. In addition, all our Living brand residential projects under development and announced from June 2021 will be “AA+” energy rated.
What real estate technologies will be most significant in fighting climate change in the immediate future and why?
At Wing, we believe cutting-edge technologies are essential for effectively implementing green solutions. To better illustrate that point, we use comprehensive digital models to streamline and optimize our design and construction processes, as this provides us with detailed information on any component of the building, thereby giving us an edge over traditional methods. The choice of materials and the use of renewable energies are critical considerations in the development process, which can make a difference in the fight against climate change in the short term. In addition, we also use building management systems to manage properties more efficiently and sustainably. I would say that combining green and smart solutions is the best method to reduce carbon footprints and tackle climate change in the years ahead.
What is the most challenging aspect of the real estate market right now?
We’re in turbulent times, and the market faces challenges from high inflation and the war in Ukraine. The energy crisis has affected all industries, while construction costs have also increased, and the financing environment has become more difficult. Despite such circumstances, Wing has successfully managed to cope with the challenges and is well-positioned to thrive in Hungary and beyond. Moreover, we have achieved an important milestone in our international expansion by acquiring a majority stake in Bauwert, a Berlinbased commercial and residential developer. Over the past few years, we have transformed into a leading regional player. We benefit from our team of seasoned professionals, diversified portfolio, and strong financial background. We hope this year will bring more stability to Europe’s macroeconomic and geopolitical environment. The real estate business tends to function in three-to-five-year cycles. I do not doubt that the real estate market will remain very attractive for tenants and investors. High-quality assets never go out of fashion, especially in prime locations.
How crucial is transparent benchmarking for ESG in real estate, and how will we achieve it?
In my view, it is right to develop measurable and comparable targets in terms of ESG reporting, which will help to track company progress and provide reliable information to external partners. It’s important to understand that ESG is a global trend impacting the whole real estate sector. ESG is at the forefront of how we do business. We are seeing that tenants and investors are identifying ESG-compliant buildings as a key factor in their search criteria. Therefore, Wing puts particular emphasis on ESG factors in our own developments. We are now preparing our ESG strategy, and we were among the first in Hungary to publish a comprehensive report on our accomplishments and objectives in terms of environmental, social, and corporate governance.
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New Tenants to Move into WING’s Liberty Building this Summer
Four new tenants will be moving into Liberty, WING’s mixed-use development, in summer 2024. Coop, FedEx, Praktiker and 3 Print have concluded lease agreements for a total of more than 3,500 square meters of office space. The new tenants will have access to a number of services in the complex, in which the occupancy rate of retail areas is now 100%.
LIVING delivers its 1000th apartment
With the completion of its 1,000th apartment, LIVING, WING’s umbrella brand for residential developments, has reached a major milestone. The residential developer currently has three ongoing projects in Budapest’s 13th District, and the total number of LIVING apartments delivered since the company was established and that are currently under development is close to 2,000. LIVING focuses on smart and sustainable solutions, energy and cost-efficiency, and the individual needs of its clients. It uses this approach in all of its developments.
Another tenant chooses WING’s East Gate Pro Business Park
WING Industrial has concluded a major agreement with a leading regional parcel logistics operator at East Gate Pro Business Park. The business park, the latest phase of the popular East Gate project, is located at the junction of the M3 and M0 motorways. The third hall of East Gate PRO Park was completed last year, and now there is a long-term pre-lease agreement for the fourth hall, B2. The 9,000-square-meter building, a build-to-suit (BTS) development with a pre-lease agreement, is to be completed by the end of 2024.