We began measuring, monitoring and targeting energy use in our shopping centres in 2002. Our baseline data for energy (2002), water (2003), waste (2002) and carbon emissions (2005) enables us to track our performance and evaluate long-term achievements in terms of both reduced environmental impact and operational costs avoided.

From 2004, we began to participate in external environmental performance benchmarking in order to compare our shopping centres’ performance with peers and help to identify potential improvement measures. Since its commencement in 2009 we have also participated in the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), which provides an overview of the current level of integration of environmental management in all listed property companies and private property funds across the globe. The most recent 2015 GRESB report (which analyses 2014 performance) placed Sonae Sierra 2nd among its non-listed peers in the retail real estate sector in Europe, and 7th place among companies in the same sector globally.

A roadmap to the optimal shopping centre

The team developed two benchmarks: a reference benchmark and an operational benchmark. The reference benchmark calculates the optimal energy consumption of the shopping centre if it contained state-of-the-art equipment. The operational benchmark calculates the optimal consumption, based on the equipment the shopping centre actually contains. The model therefore indicates shopping centres that are underperforming due to their equipment, and those that are underperforming due to management practices.

The improvements that can be achieved through Bright Project are exemplified in the case of LeiriaShopping in Portugal. Despite being awarded the highest energy efficiency certificate (A+), the centre was among the largest electricity consumers in our portfolio. Bright Project identified a number of deviations from the optimal energy consumption of equipment such as chillers and air handling units. The findings where checked on site and a number of measures (representing an investment of €58,000) were implemented and monitored for a year. As a result, LeiriaShopping reduced its electricity consumption by 29% between 2011 and 2013, which corresponded to financial savings of €139,000.

Bright project illustrates what can be achieved by pairing our relentless focus on energy efficiency with a commitment to innovation. What started as a process of fine tuning an internal benchmarking tool has ended up unveiling a huge potential to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs across our portfolio. Bright Project makes it possible to not only track the energy performance of our shopping centres, but also define yearly performance targets and support investment decisions at the corporate level. Furthermore, there are opportunities to commercialise the project and we are able to offer the tool as a service to third parties.

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