30. November 2023 Viennabase: First Viennese municipal company with a common good balance sheet 

The Economy for the Common Good movement has been growing nationally and internationally since 2010. More and more companies and local authorities are joining the movement. base - homes for students GmbH, a company of WSE Standortentwicklung and Wien Holding, operates several non-profit student residences in Vienna under the umbrella brand Viennabase. Viennabase has now become the first municipal company in Vienna to draw up a common good balance sheet.

"Doing business with values" is present in Vienna. Vienna has the highest quality of life, is considered a safe city and a social and cultural capital. Since 2012, the City of Vienna has been promoting the Economy for the Common Good balance sheet for companies through the OekoBusinessWien programme. The non-profit student residence operator Viennabase has now led the way as a pilot for the City of Vienna in the area of common good accounting and successfully completed its first common good audit in June 2023. The consistent focus on the common good is reflected in Viennabase's mission: affordable housing exclusively according to the cost recovery principle, equal opportunities for all, promotion of art and culture as well as nature and animal protection are just some of the points of its commitment to the common good.

60 years of Viennabase

Viennabase recently celebrated its 60th birthday. As a centre of education and knowledge, Vienna was already attracting students from Austria and abroad in the 1950s. At that time, there was an extraordinary shortage of student accommodation. It was therefore a memorable day when the Vienna City Council decided on 21 April 1961 to build a new home for students living in Vienna. The first building was opened in Döbling in 1963. Today, more than 200,000 students are enrolled at Vienna's universities and universities of applied sciences, and Viennabase accommodates around 2,700 students a year in four student residences.

Non-profit success story

Viennabase has been committed to providing affordable student accommodation in Vienna for 60 years now. The student residences are also particularly popular with students from the provinces. This success story was made possible by a pricing system that works exclusively according to the cost recovery principle and by an extremely efficient use of funds. We only spend what we earn. In order to expand and improve the service for residents, efforts are also made to find a form of realisation that involves as few direct costs as possible. For example, external companies work together to operate drinks vending machines, printers and scanners, bike hire and much more.

"This concept with its strong focus on values is particularly suitable for non-profit organisations. After all, values orientated towards the common good also form the DNA of the company and are of great importance both when addressing new residents and with regard to employees. The common good balance sheet is a good way to gain a holistic view of new opportunities, added value and potential and at the same time to make transparent what good measures are already being implemented," says Wien Holding Managing Director Sigrid Oblak.

In October, Viennabase was nominated in the "Affordable Housing" category at this year's Best in Class Awards, which have been honouring the best student residences and operators in Europe every year since 2016.

Instrument for corporate development

Viennabase uses the common good balance sheet to develop the organisation step by step and improve the company's sustainability balance through concrete measures. Enabling a good life is not only the motto that the organisation wants to offer its residents, but is also considered important to its suppliers. As part of the common good balance sheet, a closer look was taken at the supply chain for the first time. Careful selection and fair dealings with suppliers are incorporated into the company's procurement guidelines and the drafting of contracts with suppliers.

"We are proud to be the first municipal Viennese company to report according to the Economy for the Common Good. We achieved 413 points in our first Economy for the Common Good balance sheet, exceeding the legal requirements by 41.3 per cent. This shows that we have been practising many aspects, especially in the social sphere, for years and that we are very keen to make a contribution to the common good. We now want to share this positive experience with others," says Alexandra Radl-Hanzal, Managing Director of Viennabase.

"The common good balance sheet also strengthens our own brand and brand communication with existing and future employees, because attitude and values are important for employer attractiveness today. They help to strengthen employee engagement and recruitment. At Viennabase, young professionals find a meaningful job that is oriented towards the common good and offers them enough freedom to realise new ideas and passion projects. We also offer numerous further training opportunities, health promotion and social activities," adds Viennabase Managing Director Thomas Lebinger.

For the students, the non-profit status is not only interesting because of the more favourable housing prices, but also because of the good atmosphere that can be felt in the houses. There are numerous sustainable features on the grounds of the houses, such as beehives, a wildflower meadow and raised beds. Bicycles, scooters and an e-car sharing scheme are also available. Viennabase favours sustainable energy supply for extensions or renovations. Dorm managers have also been re-established on site in the individual Viennabase student residences. Insourcing, including in the area of building services, has led to a more service-orientated approach and a more customer-oriented offering for residents. Decentralised home management also means that changes can be brought about more directly. This has proved particularly effective in the area of sustainability. Waste separation works and residents are becoming more aware of "ecological behaviour".

Viennabase sustainably fulfils the central task of providing affordable housing for students in Vienna and thus contributes to the attractiveness of Vienna and the Viennese universities as a location for students from other federal states and abroad. The public benefit balance sheet will be renewed every two years in the future.

About the Economy for the Common Good

The international Economy for the Common Good initiative began in Austria in 2010. The Economy for the Common Good (ECG) is an alternative economic model in which the "good life" for all is the primary goal. The ECG is based on the following fundamental values: human dignity, ecological sustainability, solidarity and social justice, co-decision and transparency. The Common Good Balance Sheet, the centrepiece of the Economy for the Common Good, serves as both a mirror and a compass: companies can use the comprehensive tool of the matrix and their own holistic report to record the ecological, social and economic sustainability of their economic activities. The Common Good Balance Sheet uses the matrix to document the strengths of your company and shows the next goals with all contact groups/stakeholders on the path to the common good.

The initiative currently has around 5,000 members in over 170 regional groups worldwide and more than 1,000 companies, organisations and municipalities that have drawn up a balance sheet and are spreading, implementing and further developing the vision of the Economy for the Common Good.


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