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Sponda – Being a forerunner also means being sustainable

At Sponda, sustainability is woven into everything we do

Sustainability is an integral and inseparable part of our strategy, daily work and business expertise. Active stakeholder engagement is key to the success of our sustainability efforts, and we expect our personnel and business partners to commit to our ethical operating practices. As a company that operates in the real estate sector, we feel that we have an opportunity and a responsibility to contribute to sustainable development.

Buildings represent almost 35% of the total energy consumption of Finland, and approximately 30% of greenhouse gas emissions are created in the built environment. As over 30 000 people work in office spaces managed by us and over 90 000 customers visit our shopping centres daily, we have a responsibility to be sustainable.

Operating sustainably allows us to succeed in a changing world. It’s part of our risk management and governance policies, and it helps us to anticipate risks related to climate change. We want to move the entire industry forward by creating new practices and encouraging our stakeholders to implement sustainable ways of working, as well. Our sustainability efforts cover social, economic and environmental responsibility as well as sustainability issues in particular related to our industry. We have identified eight sustainability themes as the most material and important for our business. Targets for each theme have been defined for 2020–2022, with energy efficiency and climate targets set until 2030. We look forward to building on our accomplishments and launching a new sustainability programme by the end of 2022. A lot is happening around the theme of sustainability, for instance in ESG regulations, and we want to take these trends into account in creating the new roadmap.

What does sustainability mean for us in practice?

The reduction of CO₂ emissions, energy and water consumption, as well as raising the level environmental certifications and the recycling of waste are at the core of our environmental sustainability. In 2021, we were able to advance most of our sustainability targets as planned and reach important milestones. Almost all of the targets were reached, and in some cases, exceeded. Here below are some highlights.

The certification work of our properties progressed. All five of our shopping centres are environmentally certified, with Forum and Citycenter being CO₂ neutral buildings, as well. Our aim is to obtain certificates for all of our properties in the heart of Helsinki. We developed two solar power plants, and supported the construction of a wind power farm in Lakiakangas with Helen. 100% of the electricity consumption in our properties is now produced by emission-free wind power. These steps support our objective of becoming carbon neutral in terms of energy consumption by 2030.

We were named one of the most responsible companies in our sector for the ninth year running in the GRESB assessment. We were also the highest-ranking company in Northern Europe and the second highest in Europe in our peer group. We set science-based climate targets and they were validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a global movement driving climate action in the private sector. This means that our climate targets are in line with the Paris Agreement 1.5 degrees target. Our aim is to reduce emissions from buildings’ energy consumption and to minimise emissions throughout the value chain. Last year, we reduced our CO₂ emissions by 37.7% and energy consumption by 7.8%, compared with the average of 2016-2018.

As for social responsibility, we’re proud to be recognised as one of the most inspiring companies to work for in Finland, based on our Employee Engagement Survey’s results. Eezy Flow surveyed our personnel regarding engagement, commitment, leadership, and organisational performance. This spring, we received a People Power® rating A+ with a score of 73.4 (expert norm 72.5).

Sustainability isn’t a separate theme or a passing fad for us. Instead, it runs through our daily work, from helping our tenants’ businesses thrive to improving our environmental efficiency.

Pirkko Airaksinen, Head of ESG