2018: a year to remember
A historic year for the Group
Corporate social responsibility is at the very heart of our strategy, as a vehicle of progress and a factor of competitiveness – sustainability is paramount to our success. We continually seek new ways to improve our environmental footprint and strengthen our social impact.
In 2016, we launched our Better Places 2030 strategy, building on the objectives outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement and taking them one step further. We were the first listed real estate company to engage in such a comprehensive strategy, incorporating CSR into our entire value chain with the ambition to reduce our carbon footprint by 50% before 2030. We work closely with our teams, partners, and local communities to decrease our direct and indirect emissions stemming from the operation of buildings (scope 1) as well as the consumption of electricity and energy supplied by urban heating and cooling networks (scope 2). For the first time in our industry, we also address the wider scope of indirect carbon emissions resulting from construction works, transportation of visitors and employees, and energy consumption by tenants (scope 3).
We are leaders of change, using our assets and collective strength to raise awareness, mobilise and provide practical solutions to the ever-evolving needs of society. Through our civic engagement and job creation initiatives, we are actively involved in the communities in which we operate.
The foundation of Better Places 2030 rests on the four pillars below. Since the launch of this strategic programme, we have achieved significant results for each of them*:
Better collective power
*Only applicable to former Unibail-Rodamco scope
We have embraced the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of our overall CSR strategy. In line with our activity, we are directly contributing to 10 out of 17, with a focus on decent work and economic growth (goal 8), industry, innovation and infrastructure (goal 9), sustainable cities and communities (goal 11), responsible consumption and production (goal 12), and climate action (goal 13).
Our CSR strategy and performance are regularly assessed by extra-financial agencies which have, for several years now, ranked Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield among the most sustainable companies in commercial real estate.
In 2018, we were, once again, granted Prime Status by ISS-Oekom. The ESG rating agency ranked us the highest among all real estate companies assessed, with a “B-” rating.
GRESB* ranked the Group as Sector Leader among all listed retail companies worldwide. We were also ranked #1 among all European listed companies and all European retail companies with a score of 93/100. Moreover, GRESB awarded us the Green Star for the 8th year in a row, with a rating of 5 stars (highest performance level).
In addition to a 7th consecutive EPRA Sustainability Gold Award, our UR for Jobs initiative received the award for most Outstanding Contribution to Society for its Community & Tenants Engagement during the 2018 EPRA Conference in Berlin.
We were confirmed as member of the FTSE4Good Index series, the Ethibel Sustainability Index (ESI) Excellence Europe and Excellence Global, as well as the CAC 40® Governance index “Top 10 performers”. We were also confirmed in a number of ECPI indices and the Euronext Vigeo indices: World 120, Eurozone 120, Europe 120 and France 20.
*Only applicable to former Unibail-Rodamco scope
Building better and greener assets is at the core of our engagement and we ensure the sustainability of our buildings from the start.
We strive for a 35% reduction of our carbon footprint from construction through a sober building approach – optimising design and choosing alternative materials.
In 2018, we launched a low-carbon pilot project with Hoffmann Green Cement Technologies, which specialises in manufacturing low-carbon cement. The French startup will produce low-carbon cement for Les Ateliers Gaîté, one of our development projects located in the Montparnasse district in Paris.
In our existing assets, we aim to lower our carbon emissions from operations by 70%. One way to achieve this ambition is to commit to 100% green electricity.
Last October, Westfield Topanga & The Village unveiled a new 9,000 solar panel array, positioning itself among the most environmentally-conscious shopping destinations in the United States. Its solar power system now encompasses nearly 15,000 panels and boasts a total capacity of over 4-megawatts.
Our destinations welcome more than 1.2bn visits each year, making transportation and connectivity strategic topics for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. We aim to improve our visitors’ mobility experience on time, cost and environmental impact. This implies to work on all areas of our business, from strategy to design to operations.
With this in mind, we created the Mobility Action Plan – a 360° tool to optimise accessibility to our shopping centres. We concentrate on well-connected assets, located at the heart of major cities, with a strong and positive impact for their region. In line with our carbon-reduction strategy, our goal is for 75% of our visitors to use sustainable transport when they visit our centres by 2030.
As of 2018, 100% of our development projects in Continental Europe* are connected to major public transportation, meeting our objective two years ahead of schedule! In our operating assets, we ensure that visitors, retailers and employees have access to a large offer of sustainable transport solutions, including short distance carpooling, carsharing and electrical vehicle (EV) charging spaces. 62% of our shopping centres are linked to a bicycle track, and all of them are accessible via public transportation*.
To stay ahead of the curve and achieve our objectives, we also anticipate new modes of sustainable mobility. Our dedicated innovation ecosystem sources new solutions, building strong partnerships to explore new trends. As part of VIA ID’s Mobility Club, we work with smart city startups and other large corporations to better assess the transformation of urban mobility.
*Only applicable to former Unibail-Rodamco scope
Our assets are part of a broader socio-economic environment that includes visitors, neighbours, cities and other local stakeholders. As a fully-committed actor of this ecosystem, we help shape our communities by fostering local employment and economic development. Led by our teams in Continental Europe, the UR for Jobs programme aims to create employment opportunities for people cut off from the job market. Through mentoring and training, we empower individuals with tools to find long-term employment or integrate a training programme. We host job fairs, providing individuals living in close proximity to our centres with the opportunity to interview with our tenants and services providers. By 2020, we aim to enable 1,000 candidates to find a job or integrate a certified training programme through the initiative.
30 UR for Jobs initiatives were held throughout our centres in Continental Europe in 2018, creating opportunities for more than 700 job-seekers. 551 people were hired or integrated a programme of certified training as a result.
In the United States, we foster entrepreneurial and career development opportunities for military veterans and their families through our Veterans Initiative. We believe that when military veterans re-enter the civilian workforce, they can leverage their experience to help lead businesses and improve productivity. As part of the initiative, we collaborate with several organisations, such as Team RWB, The Rosie Network, and the Infinite Hero Foundation.
In France, we reinvent the codes of recruitment with the Foundation ‘Apprentis d’Auteuil’ and their SKOLA project: an innovative two-month sales training programme combining theory and practice in a unique setup.
Being a leader of change also means creating social value for the communities in which we operate. Our unwavering engagement is sustained by the strength of our collective power.
100% of our shopping centres worldwide work in collaboration with local charities and public partners to promote their social and environmental activities. 928 actions were conducted last year at Group level, with 1,439 volunteers amongst our teams, for an overall contribution of 5.4 million euros.
84% of our shopping centres in Continental Europe championed the Group’s social initiatives in 2018. 77% of the teams volunteered, devoting more than 1,200 days to support civic actions in and around our centres, and building a sustainable future for our communities.
A snapshot of local volunteer initiatives in some of our countries:
In August, we helped renovate a kindergarten for almost 200 children.
In September, 77% of our teams gathered for a day of giving back, dedicating their time and energy to non-profit organisations such as the Children's Farm Beestenbende, Salvation Army, Stichting Wensjes Almere, and Parkhuys Almere.
In September, a group of 50 of our employees gathered in Paris, volunteering their time and energy to Bébés du Coeur, an association supported by Carrousel du Louvre, one of our shopping centres. Bébés du Coeur provides material assistance (clothing, toys, and hygiene products) for newborn babies and small children, as well as guidance and counselling for families.
In November, 72 of our team members volunteered with Help&Hope, a farm dedicated to children in need, building a garden and renovating a playground.
Our UK shopping centres have had a long-standing partnership with international charity Save the Children. In December 2018, an innovative store, The Drop, was launched at Westfield Stratford City to raise money for Save the Children’s Big Up Uganda programme. Capitalising on the rising trend of rental retail, and the growth of street and athleisure wear, The Drop store featured exciting brands, which customers could rent. All proceeds were donated to Save the Children.
A group of UK employees have also established the StemAmbassador programme to help promote STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) to young people. The group regularly visits schools surrounding the UK centres and attend career events to educate and inspire young people about new career paths, as well as communicate about the different projects and roles at Unibail-Rodamo-Westfield centres.
Our corporate team in Los Angeles participated in two volunteer events with Habitat for Humanity, building homes for veterans in southern California and helping at the Westside Children’s Center, an early childhood education program that serves low-income families.
Our Westfield Topanga team opened up the community centre to support victims and first responders of the California wildfires.
Our Westfield World Trade Center team continued its support of the 9/11 Memorial and Foundation as a corporate partner and participated in the organisation’s annual 5K Run/Walk and Community Day.
Together with our teams and partners, we take action for the planet. From circular economy to recycling, we foster innovative, greener and more sustainable modes of consumption.
In June 2018, we opened the first urban farm on top of a shopping centre in France, thanks to a partnership between Sous Les Fraises and our open innovation platform. Farmhouse So Ouest is a 270 sqm farm located on the roof of the So Ouest shopping centre (Paris region). It relies on a circular approach of production and consumption: irrigation is achieved through a closed-loop system that recycles rain water to feed the plants and production is sold via a short distribution circuit.
After a successful start at our Euralille shopping centre in France, on the occasion of World Food Day, we announced the extension of our partnership with Too Good To Go in 18 of our shopping centres in France. Too Good To Go is a startup that helps restaurants, hotels, and other food retailers reduce waste by selling unsold product to consumers at a discounted price. At Euralille, in just four months, almost 2,000 meals were saved – the equivalent of 4.3 tonnes of CO2! Through this partnership, we hope to save more than 50,000 meals in France in 2019. Following this success, we are looking forward to rolling out the concept in other countries through similar initiatives.
Embracing change also means adopting environmentally friendly behaviours. At Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, sustainability is a team effort.
A dedicated budget was implemented in 2018 in all our regions to carry out good practices, daily actions and initiatives for the planet.