EPP takes stock of progress on its ESG strategy

by   CIJ News iDesk III
2023-12-18   12:36
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EPP, publishing its second ESG report based on the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) international standard for reporting non-financial data, summarises the company's achievements for the 2022/2023 financial year. The company's efforts are focused on reducing its environmental impact while strengthening its social commitment. The company has achieved a 22% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the portfolio it directly manages compared to 2019. At the same time, it has dedicated nearly 1,700 hours of employee volunteering to local communities, supporting more than 31,000 people.

"We prioritise managing the impact of our business on EPP stakeholders, including the environment and local communities living in the vicinity of the facilities we manage. We started with the implementation of an ESG strategy in 2021, which we continuously update based on new challenges of the world around us and regulatory requirements. The second step is transparent and regular reporting. We have ambitious plans in all areas and we are confident that through joint commitment and cooperation with stakeholders we will be able to achieve them," said Rafał Kwiatkowski, vice president of operations at EPP Poland, asset manager of the portfolio of properties managed by the EPP Group.

ESG strategy based on four pillars.
ESG activities, which have been an integral part of EPP's business strategy since 2021, are based on the premise of being responsible towards the planet and people. EPP strives to do business responsibly by emphasising four pillars of action. These are based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations. EPP minimises its impact on the environment (Earth citizen), creates a space that is accessible to all (a place for everyone), focuses on building trust among stakeholders through transparent and consistent communication (trust based on transparency) and develops a responsible management system (conscious management).

Responsibility towards the environment.
EPP's priority is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to achieve net zero carbon emissions in the facilities managed by the company by 2050. In 2023, the company set ambitious targets to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and by 90% by 2050 compared to 2019. These have been scientifically verified and validated by the Science Based Targets (SBTi) initiative. The company is on track to meet its targets, having achieved a 22% reduction in GHG emissions in the portfolio it directly manages in the 2022/2023 financial year compared to 2019.

In addition, the changes being implemented, including, among others, an energy-efficient LED system with which 82% of the common areas of the facilities have already been equipped, upgrades to the BMS systems or optimisations of equipment operation have contributed to an 11.5% reduction in energy consumption compared to 2019. In pursuit of its long-term plans, EPP is already using renewable electricity in the common parts 100% in office complexes and 20% in retail properties.

Social value.
In its efforts to target local communities, the company focuses on increasing positive impact. EPP aims to improve diversity and inclusivity, strengthen local economies, analyse and respond to local social challenges, while taking care of the environment and human rights in the supply chain.

The EPP supports local communities by implementing activities in four areas. These include initiatives at a portfolio-wide level, local '5 Good Deeds' charities, activities undertaken by employees during employee volunteering and additional projects funded by the company in the form of grants to support volunteering. In the 2022/2023 financial year, EPP teams delivered 221 initiatives, contributing 1686 hours through employee volunteering. This provided support to more than 31,000 people.

The company also looks after its employees, offering regular training and an extensive benefits package to support their wellbeing. All employees have been trained in business ethics, 88% of employees are covered by an ongoing development programme and a further 82% have received ESG training. On average, one person has spent more than 28 hours on self-improvement, knowledge and competence development. The company's highest standards in human resources management were recognised by the Polish Human Resources Management Association with the "HR Highest Quality 2023" certificate. In addition, EPP was included in the Diversity IN Check list of employers most advanced in diversity and inclusivity management.

Corporate governance.
Good governance and transparency in operations are an important part of the company's ESG strategy. As such, EPP's operations are reviewed by leading and independent bodies. For example, in the Carbon Disclosure Project's (CDP) ranking, which is considered one of the most important tools for assessing transparency of corporate disclosures on climate action, EPP received a B grade. EPP also aims to work with responsible companies that share common values and ensure ethical supply chain operations. Therefore, key business partners subscribe to a supplier code of ethics.

In addition to annual ESG progress reporting based on GRI standards and TCFD recommendations, the company implements a number of internal practices, such as EPP's code of conduct, diversity policy and supplier code of ethics. EPP also ensures appropriate certification - 86% of the office buildings and 72% of the retail facilities directly managed by the company have achieved BREEAM In-Use certification. In addition, the office complexes Symetris Business Park, O3 Business Campus, Malta Office Park and Development Park boast a WELL Health-Safety Rating.

The principle of dual materiality.
EPP's operations have both environmental and social impacts on various stakeholder groups. In this year's report, the company has incorporated the principle of double materiality. It entails monitoring and disclosing the environmental and social impacts of EPP's activities and the impact of ESG factors on the company's financial position. In this financial year, EPP has also included the planet as a stakeholder affected by the activities of the properties managed by the company. It, too, impacts the company's managed portfolio, as disclosed in EPP's climate report, prepared in accordance with the TCFD's market recommendations.