MAKING SHOPPING FIT FOR THE FUTURE
Our “Beyond Sustainable” strategy is based on a 4-pillar approach, which encompasses the material issues that are identified as relevant for our company and our industry: Sustainable Buildings, Resilient Communities, Conscious Consumers and Engaged Stakeholders.
minimize the environmental impact of our buildings and contribute to limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5°C and have set emission reduction targets and energy intensity targets aligned with the Carbon Risk Real Estate Monitor (CRREM) tool. In doing so we work with all aspects of our value chain (development, operations and tenants), to become more efficient, reduce our carbon emissions and implement innovative solutions, so as to generate synergies and work with our partners towards a common goal.
Our strategy is to provide our guests with a sustainable and unique premium shopping experience. This means we enhance the social and environmental impacts of the experience, at different levels: transport to the centre, food & beverage options, recycling and reduction and phasing out of single use plastics, and sustainability of the products sold. We also support and encourage our brand partners in their sustainability initiatives to ensure sustainability of the products sold, and we work with them and our communities to promote responsible consumption, reuse and recycling.
We take our responsibility towards our community – our employees, our suppliers, our tenants, our guests, and our local communities – very seriously, which is why we set ourselves ambitious standards in safeguarding their health, safety and wellbeing, and promoting accessibility in all our Centres. We also strive to create a working and shopping environment that is inclusive and embraces diversity.
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. We also work with partners and experts on our material sustainability issues to improve our understanding of our impacts and increase our efforts to create social value. Due to its all-encompassing nature, this pillar therefore crosses the boundaries of the other three pillars and acts as the foundation for our strategy.
We ensure a short, medium and long-term approach, by setting both long-term and medium-term targets (energy & emissions, environmental impacts related to design & construction, waste, water, health & safety, responsible consumption), with annual sustainable action plans.
1. ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGY
The impacts of 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 presented 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 account for 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 accordingly. 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%
2. SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION
Due to the nature of 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 minimise 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 are undertaken 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 1.5°C pathways and targets.
3. RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION
In our efforts to mitigate our environmental impacts and promote our communities’ wellbeing, we realize that 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.
4. CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
The VIA Outlets sustainability strategy is defined by VIA Outlet’s CEO, its Head of Strategy and Asset Management, and its 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 to achieve a 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 at both Group and Centre level are subject to sustainability targets, that influence their annual bonus, thus ensuring the entire workforce contributes to the achievements of the group’s key sustainability goals through its skills and responsibilities.
5. STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT
Our stakeholders – which principally include our shareholders, employees, brand partners, guests, communities and suppliers – take an active part in defining and implementing 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. Obtaining stakeholder input and integrating that within our day-to-day operations is 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, as well as to the portfolio itself.
6. REPORTING, BENCHMARKS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
A sustainable portfolio starts with sustainable buildings. At VIA Outlets, we believe that setting goals that align with international benchmarks and certifications as well as reporting in line with their requirements are 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 management and operations, we have reached a 5-star rating in the latest 2020 GRESB evaluation. We aim to maintain this 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 with 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 by 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.
After our latest recertification cycle in 2021, we now have 2 assets that score Outstanding, 4 that are predicted to score Excellent, and 5 that are predicted to score Very Good on Breeam IU. We have also already incorporated green clauses to 40% of our leases and will be increasing this percentage every time a lease is renewed or a new lease is signed.
7. SUSTAINABILITY REPORT 2021Download report
Green Financing Commitments
In line with VIA Outlet’s ambitious sustainability strategy and its efforts to generate a positive impact on society and the environment, we have published a Green Finance Framework. By issuing Green Finance Instruments, VIA Outlets intends to align its funding strategy with its mission and reinforce its commitment to a low carbon, resilient, inclusive and healthy society.