EPP, the largest asset manager of retail real estate in Poland, implemented a sustainable development strategy in 2021. The company aims to conduct its business in a responsible and transparent way while reducing its environmental impact and strengthening its social commitment. Following the strategy, EPP has set targets for the years 2022-2025 and is launching its first report, giving its ESG achievements to date the framework of GRI international reporting and EPRA standards.
“The decision to implement a sustainable development strategy and to set goals in terms of reducing environmental impact, acting for society and increasing corporate governance transparency was very consciously driven by the expectations and needs of our stakeholders: users of our properties, business partners and investors, as well as our vision of EPP as a company with ambitions to shape trends in this area. The ESG policy, which has been an integral part of EPP’s business strategy since last year, is based on the assumption of being responsible towards the planet and people and is divided into four pillars: environmental impact, accessibility, transparency and mindful management. By 2025 we want to reduce our carbon footprint as well as transparently and regularly report our ESG achievements,” said Tomasz Trzósło, CEO of EPP.
“We put great importance on reducing the environmental impact of EPP’s buildings and enhancing their wide accessibility. The real estate industry is responsible for approximately 40% of global CO2 emissions, so we treat reducing the carbon footprint of our facilities as a priority. We are also committed to ensuring that all consumers and users of EPP’s shopping centres and office buildings have easy access to them and can enjoy what they have to offer. We will also continue to work with local communities to respond to the needs of our neighbours,” said Rafał Kwiatkowski, COO at EPP.
In order to meet its environmental goals, EPP reduces its electricity and water consumption and limits the amount of generated waste. To achieve this, the company installs photovoltaic systems, replaces lighting with energy-efficient LEDs, develops systems for monitoring CO2 emissions and sorts waste. When redeveloping properties, the company chooses solutions that limit the scope of demolition and allow for leaving and modernising existing equipment. The goals that EPP wants to achieve by 2025 include: increasing the use of renewable energy (100% in office buildings and 35% in shopping centres), equipping three-quarters of the properties with photovoltaic panels, using only LED lighting in common areas, recycling 100% of industrial waste, and equipping all properties with systems that reduce water consumption. The initiatives undertaken will enable the achievement of BREEAM In-Use ‘Very Good’ or ‘Excellent’ certification for all shopping centres and office buildings by the end of 2025.
The second aspect that EPP pays particular attention to is increasing the accessibility of its facilities for groups with different needs, including people with disabilities, families with children, pregnant women and seniors. With them in mind, EPP properties have been equipped with specially adapted toilets, information boards with Braille signs, intelligent systems facilitating navigation and wider parking spaces. In addition to infrastructural changes, EPP has also implemented solutions to support visitors with high sensitivity to sensory input such as light or sound. As part of the “Quiet hours” initiative, the music in the EPP shopping centres is turned off at least three hours a week and voice announcements are limited. The shopping centres managed by the company are family-friendly, for whom, for example, playrooms, educational corners and appropriately equipped care rooms have been provided. Additionally, the company has commissioned the Integration Foundation to conduct independent audits to assess the accessibility of the facilities and identify new solutions worth implementing. The company also provides a friendly working environment in which diversity and equality are fostered, the personal development of the employees is supported and dialogue and self-expression are encouraged.
EPP facilities are often one of the key points on the economic map of a given region, which is why the company wants to support the development of the local markets in which it operates and help neighbours in need. In 2021, EPP’s teams implemented 120 projects that supported, among others, 32 nursing homes and orphanages, 16 shelters, launched bookcrossing zones with local libraries and plant adoption points. At EPP’s facilities, anti-smog flower meadows were created, and bee hives were placed on roofs and green areas. Efforts in the area of the circular economy have been combined with helping those in need by providing hangers for unused clothes and setting up community fridges in which clients place surplus food. These initiatives are EPP’s response to the real needs of local communities and contemporary climate challenges such as air quality, loss of biodiversity and food waste. By 2025, the company wants to increase the number of community initiatives by 20% and encourage each employee to spend 10 hours a year on employee volunteering.
Transparent governance and collaboration with business partners is an important part of EPP’s ESG strategy, which is why a Code of Conduct will be introduced as early as this year and 100% of key suppliers are expected to sign it by the end of 2025. Until then, they will also undergo the ESG assessment, and assets managed by the company will be externally audited for health and safety.
The ESG report released by EPP has been developed in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standard and with selected EPRA (European Public Real Estate Association) environmental standards specific to the real estate sector. Each pillar of the ESG strategy has been assigned relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN).