Our Approach to Sustainability
Environmental and Climate Change Strategy
The impacts from climate change are already being experienced globally. We are fully committed to embedding climate change into the heart of our strategy and reporting on our progress alongside the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) guidelines. Our ultimate intention is to understand and plan for the physical risks posed by climate change whilst creating opportunities from these risks through adaptation and mitigation strategies on an asset and corporate level. This has become a focal point in our business strategy, and any actions to mitigate risks have been incorporated as a priority within our budgetary planning.
As we roll out our climate risk mapping and management processes, we have refined our previous targets to ensure that we are aligning with the future implications posed by climate change. Using the CRREM tool as our benchmarking guidance, we have set our longer-term targets to take into account both our absolute Scope 1 and 2 emissions but also our intensity ratios on an asset and portfolio level. Each centre’s progress towards these targets is monitored on a quarterly and annual basis to ensure long term alignment, and we adjust our investment plans for each centre as a result. As we develop our emissions scoping, we will expand our oversight of Scope 3 emissions to increase our coverage of tenant consumption and emissions from other sources.
Long, Medium and short term Sustainability goals:
- 2030: 50% energy intensity reduction (whole building – 2019 baseline)
- 2030: 55% absolute GHG emission reduction (whole building – 2019 baseline)
- 2025: 20% absolute water reduction (portfolio – 2019 baseline)
- 2025: 15% increase in recycling (portfolio – 2019 baseline)
- 2025: Accessibility evaluation of all centres
- BREEAM: all assets to increase their score in each recertification cycle
- 2022: BREEAM: all assets to score at least Very Good in Part 2
- 2022: Complete the VIA Outlets Sustainability Manifesto (design, construction & refurbishment)
- 2022: Company Environmental Management System certified to ISO 14001 standards
- 2022: Increased submetering to identify energy consumption sources
- 2021: increase the VIA Outlets Employee Engagement Score from 77% to 80%
Due to our operations, construction within our centres is a material issue that we aim to conduct in a sustainable way. We manage our efforts through construction and contractor guidelines, which include stricter criteria for contractors, such as asking them to minimize and report on construction waste produced, incorporating recycled materials and installing energy and water efficient equipment.
Similarly, efficient environmental performance is a primary focus within our store design process and with any construction work that may be underway on site by our tenants. We encourage all tenants to conform to the guidelines outlined in our Tenant Works Manual when conducting any building operations or maintenance work.
We are in the process of implementing a Renewable Energy Plan which identifies and will lead to the implementation of self-generation renewable energy projects in the Centres in which we need to bring our emissions down to align with our 1,5ºC pathways and targets.
In our efforts to mitigate our environmental impacts and promote our communities’ wellbeing, we realize our activities involve other stakeholders, such as our brand-partners and our guests, and we have the opportunity to engage them in many initiatives which promote a sustainable lifestyle and responsible shopping. This is why we are increasing our communication around the environmental and social impacts of our activities as well as implementing actions which are aligned with our guests’ values and expectations, such as encouraging brands to incorporate sustainable products to their offering, promoting healthy and sustainable F&B options and celebrating sustainability days aligned with our own sustainability targets.
Health, Safety and Wellbeing of our Employees, Tenants and Guests
The VIA Outlets Corporate Strategy seeks to ensure that VIA Outlets complies with International and national legislation, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards and treaties, while providing a working environment that both protects our staff and allows them to thrive. Diversity and equal opportunities are key to our successful talent attraction and management.
Our employee engagement programme focuses on creating sustainable careers in a sustainable environment. Every year, our annual satisfaction survey provides us with the opportunity to reflect on the past year and set tailored targets per department, to improve the working experience for our employees.
Our Health, Safety and Wellbeing policy includes a thorough risk management process and high standards aimed at protecting our employees, tenants, guests and suppliers.
The VIA Outlets sustainability strategy is defined by VIA Outlet’s CEO, Head of Strategy and Asset Management, and Sustainability Director, and presented to VIA Outlet’s Board of Directors (which includes shareholder/non-executive Director representation) as part of the annual budget process.
The implementation of the strategy relies on the collective contribution of all departmental representatives for its holistic and successful approach. Since July 2019, our sustainability strategy is governed and monitored by a Sustainability Taskforce composed of the Group Departmental Leads most relevant to our overall material issues and strategy.
Finally, all employees both at Group and Centre level are subject to sustainability targets, which influence their annual bonus, thus ensuring the entire workforce contributes through its skills and responsibilities to the achievements of the group’s key sustainability goals.
Our stakeholders take an active part in defining our sustainability strategy, which is why we continuously improve our reporting, engage with them on our targets and activities, provide training and generate awareness around sustainability issues. These principally include our shareholders, employees, brand partners, guests, communities and suppliers. Obtaining their input and integrating that within our day-to-day operations is therefore an essential aspect of our sustainability strategy and a core part of our overarching business plan. Our stakeholders are consulted regularly through surveys and one-to-one meetings on any major decisions or materiality realignments, or to the portfolio itself.
Reporting, Benchmarks and Achievements
A sustainable portfolio starts with sustainable buildings. At VIA Outlets, we believe that setting goals on the basis of international benchmarks and certifications as well as reporting in line with their requirements are an excellent indicator of overall performance.
On a portfolio level, we have benchmarked ourselves against our peers for the fourth year running through our engagement with the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB). Through diligent adjustments to our current management and operations, we have reached a 5-star rating in the latest 2020 GRESB evaluation. We aim to maintain our 5-star rating in the coming years while we continue to set ambitious targets and stay up-to-date with the latest operational best practices.
In addition, we endeavour to align ourselves to internationally recognised standards, ranging from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Global Reporting Index (GRI) and the Carbon Risk Real Estate Monitor (CRREM).
On an asset level, 100% of the portfolio has been certified in BREEAM In-Use Part 1: Asset Performance, since 2018. Post-certification, we continue to improve our assets through a variety of optimisation projects, enabling us to increase the sustainability performance of our buildings ahead of our next recertification cycles.