Atrium is committed to sustainable growth, reflecting our long-term approach to investment and operations and our continued efforts to lead in terms of corporate citizenship in the countries where we operate. Our core strategy is to employ sustainable principles and procedures as the underlying foundation of our daily activities. Atrium has rolled out a sustainability programme across all its operations and offices with actions that are aligned with business strategy and long-term value creation. We have taken considerable steps in recent years to further improve its sustainability performance. Many of our commitments have led to and will continue driving more efficient operations, an improved customer journey, increased employee awareness and a stronger organization that is prepared to manage the portfolio in a sustainable way in the years ahead. We will further embed our sustainability approach in our business strategy for 2020–2025.
Atrium has formalized its sustainability policy by choosing to focus on three main pillars: Our Customers, Our Places and Our People.
In each area we strive to improve our performance and to make a difference. We promote the health, safety and well-being of our customers. We continuously look to improve our environmental impact by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, water consumption and waste. Furthermore, we aim to offer our employees a great place to work, with a diverse workforce, equal pay and equal rights. Through active management and investment, data collection and sharing of best practices, we aim to control and minimize the environmental impact of our operations.
Back in 2014, a materiality assessment was performed to reach a broad understanding of our stakeholders and their priorities and to assess our sustainability risks. With input from all our stakeholders (customers, tenants, investors, management and employees), Atrium established a sustainability policy and road map to meet stakeholders’ expectations. In 2015, Atrium established a Sustainability Committee and published its sustainability policy. In 2016, we started rolling out our sustainability programme, which included the monitoring of our environmental, social and governance performance. We published a stand-alone sustainability report for the years 2016 and 2017. Since 2018, we have been integrating the sustainability report and ESG performance data into our annual report to reflect the fact that sustainability is an essential and integral part of our way of operating and conducting business.
In the 2019 reporting period, Atrium decreased its total energy consumption by 4.3% on a like-for-like basis compared with the previous period. Water consumption decreased by 5.1% on a like-for-like basis, and the total amount of waste collected decreased by 9.4% in 2018–2019.
For more details, please refer to our 2019 Sustainability Report, which is an integral part of our 2019 Annual Report. The report is aligned with EPRA recommendations for best practices on sustainability reporting.
Since 2016, Atrium has been recognized by the industry for its sustainability efforts. In 2019, Atrium received a gold award in the financial reporting Best Practices Recommendations (BPR) series by the European Public Real Estate Association (EPRA). Atrium has been participating in the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark, (GRESB). This global benchmark which assesses the nvironmental, Social and overnance (ESG) performance of real estate companies. In 2020, Atrium received three green stars.
At the corporate level, Atrium’s Sustainability Committee is responsible for determining the Company’s sustainability strategy, setting long-term targets and monitoring its company-wide environmental and social performance. Atrium’s Group Executive Management and various departments, including Asset Management, HR and Operational Centre Management, are represented on this Committee, which meets on a quarterly basis. Atrium’s Board of Directors reviews and endorses the Company’s sustainability strategy, reporting and planned initiatives on an annual basis.
Atrium has launched a Green Financing Framework, which integrates the Company’s sustainability commitments with its financing instruments, such as green bonds, green loans, green hybrids and green private placements. The issuance of green financing instruments will be used to lower our carbon footprint and to further integrate sustainability in our corporate strategy. Our Green Financing Framework is aligned with the Green Bond Principles 2018 and the Green Loan Principles 2018. The Green Financing Framework has been verified and approved by Sustainalytics, an external second opinion provider. An annual allocation and impact report will be included in our annual sustainability report and will be verified by our external auditors.
Green Financing Framework
Second Party Opinion by Sustainalytics
Atrium’s shopping centres are at the heart of their communities. Over 718 community engagement activities were organized in 2019, and 41 of them focused on sustainability. Furthermore, we introduced community centres – for a variety of neighbourhood initiatives – at a number of our shopping centres. At Promenada, we introduced a community centre called Fifth Dimension. This attractive space, used for various kinds of activities, is a unique project where we, as the property owner, not only provide a physical space but also organize a range of activities on a daily basis to support education, health and personal development. It is our way of giving back and investing in a community we are a part of. Our commitment goes far beyond merely creating a physical space: in 2019, we held almost 1,200 activities during the year, and more than 8,000 people participated in activities at Promenada.
With climate change bringing drought and heatwaves to previously mild areas with a continental climate, responsible and innovative use of water has become a more pressing issue. At Atrium Flora, a rainwater tank and harvesting system were installed in 2019, which are projected to save 8% of total water consumption from the grid. Harvested water is used as process water for irrigation and flushing toilets. This measure is expected to save €13,000 a year in water costs, which translates into a return on investment in six years. The project is planned to be extended in 2021 and the following years, with the aim of covering around 20% of water consumption.
As part of improvements to Atrium Reduta and Atrium Copernicus undertaken in 2019, we decided to replace the lighting in various areas, such as the car park, the arcades and the bathrooms, with over 1,600 LEDs. This was a major investment that will pay for itself within just a few years because of its significant impact on energy costs. The new lights are covered by a five-year manufacturer’s warranty, and they are brighter than the previous lights even though they require less power. Our energy consumption has dropped, as has our carbon footprint.