An interview with Clément Jeannin, Director of CSR at Unibail-Rodamco Group, about the partnership struck between his group and ENGIE: the two groups are working together to develop innovative solutions for the sustainable transformation of Unibail-Rodamco’s assets.
How does Unibail-Rodamco incorporate CSR into its business and policies?
In a continuation of the commitment to the environment it made back in 2007, Unibail-Rodamco was ready to take things even further. In 2016 we launched an ambitious new CSR strategy, which represents a watershed for both our industry and the company itself:
- A target of a 50% reduction in our carbon footprint by 2030 (based on levels at end of 2015). This makes Unibail-Rodamco the first listed commercial property company to commit to such a comprehensive, and voluntary, strategy
- To build an extremely broad spectrum of actions into the Group’s full value chain for the very first time, covering the carbon footprint generated by the both Group’s business and its stakeholders. Unibail-Rodamco is the first listed property developer to take into account the extremely broad range of indirect emissions produced as part of the construction process, from the energy used by tenants to travel by all site users (staff and visitors)
Our comprehensive approach is built atop four pillars, each with its own ambitious, clear objectives:
- « Less carbon emissions, better buildings » ;
- « Less polluting transport, better connectivity » ;
- « Less local unemployment, better communities » ;
- « Less top-down, better collective power ».
The CSR policy is now an integral part of the company’s key processes, and forms a genuine part of our strategic vision and the everyday concerns of company stakeholders. It is supported by its own dedicated governance at the very top of the company, which is applied on an operational level in each of the Group’s departments.
What changes to CSR have you seen in recent years? Have you noticed any new trends?
CSR encompasses an increasingly broad range of applications, whether in terms of the subjects it covers or the depth it is being given. So for example, Unibail-Rodamco incorporates Scope 3 on greenhouse gas emissions – indirect emissions linked to the company’s value chain – by taking into account emissions generated by the construction process, by the energy used by our commercial tenants, and by visitors travelling to our assets. Urban agriculture and the circular economy are two more emerging concepts, with partnerships being formed with innovative start-ups like Phénix and Dress in the City. CSR is ever more closely bound with the company’s strategy and how it sees value creation for all of its stakeholders.
How does caring about CSR create value for you, your customers, your suppliers, and your other stakeholders more generally?
We firmly believe that an ambitious CSR strategy like Better Places 2030 can boost performance, productivity, and the appeal of Unibail-Rodamco’s assets to brands, investors, and other stakeholders, while also driving the sustainable transformation of the sector. The very purpose of CSR is to create value for all of our stakeholders. Unibail-Rodamco’s CSR strategy covers our entire value chain, and we work with our suppliers, clients, and local authorities to develop projects that are in line with their CSR expectations.
Thus, visitors to our malls expect to find increasing evidence of sustainability, and an experience that is integrated into the local community: “Better Places” that cater to changing lifestyles, shopping, and entertainment habits. As for our commercial tenants, we now position ourselves as partners in achieving their own CSR goals. Our suppliers are our partners on our projects, and they work with us to create solutions that can reduce a building’s carbon footprint over its lifetime. Investors expect full transparency as well as an excellent performance in CSR, and are making it an increasingly important part of their asset allocation process.
We are also working closely with local authorities to embody their environmental action plans in our projects.
And we also get our employees involved, because through Better Places 2030 they can take part in concrete projects and initiatives to tackle the challenges facing the communities in which we work.
What do you expect from an energy and services provider like ENGIE when it comes to CSR?
ENGIE is a “solution finder” for our Better Places 2030 program, especially when it comes to renewable and decentralized energy, energy efficiency, smart buildings, and mobility. Our partnership will enable us to develop innovative solutions and launch joint initiatives in these key fields, to facilitate the sustainable transformation of our assets.
Have you noticed any changes in ENGIE’s commercial offering?
I am seeing increasingly innovative content. It’s a continuation of the first partnership between our two groups, launched at Vivatech in 2016, to issue calls for projects via the innov@ENGIE innovation platform. innov@ENGIE.
These innovative solutions from ENGIE are in line with the energy transition we have undertaken across the entire value chain for our assets: design, installation, operations, maintenance, guarantees of performance, user support, and funding.