Low-cost ESG initiatives

At #RetailDestinationLive2024 yesterday, we listened to case study overviews of impressive, large scale ESG strategies implemented across trophy assets in the retail space. What I couldn’t help but question was, in the wider community of shopping centres, mixed-use estates and commercial buildings, where service charges aren’t as ‘healthy’ and investors aren’t as active, what can we do, at low cost, to still drive ESG?

I took some insights from the speakers, and my peers at the conference, and have summarised “free” opportunities below:

πŸ€“ EDUCATION πŸ€“

Educating stakeholders on what you are aspiring to achieve and what small changes they can make, free of charge, to help the asset on it’s way. Educate the local community by hosting workshops and request your company ESG experts to visit your site and support in this.

πŸ—‘ WASTE REDUCTION πŸ—‘

We’re not talking wholescale here, but simple and direct communication with occupiers on current waste management processes and volume, and encouraging them to reduce by any means possible.

🚘 TRANSPORT 🚘

Encouraging car pooling, public transport, and in some cases, wider business benefits offering support to buy electric vehicles that don’t come as a bittom-line cost to the employer, but that support the employee in obtaining the initial investment.

πŸ•‘ GIVING TIME πŸ•‘

Giving time is two-fold. Giving time to the community, instead of money, can be far more valuable. Lending expertise, offering advice, public speaking, creating stakeholders groups to hear feedback can all contirbute signicantly to ESG. Giving time to your ESG strategy, localising national strategies and making ideas and initiatives specific to you and your asset is paramount. Don’t half-ass it!

🀝 TENDER THE RIGHT SERVICE PARTNERS 🀝

It’s not a big ask to expect certain levels of commitment to ESG and CSR from your service partners so having this as a key part of your tendering process can help you on your way. If you have recently tendered, communicating and collaborating with your partners to learn what they currently do, and what changes they could make that would contribute e.g. can cleaning products used be exchanged for more sustainable products?

πŸͺŸ TRANSPARENT GOVERNANCE πŸͺŸ

Being open to feedback from stakeholders, and measuring and reporting change.

🌳 ENERGY EFFICIENCY & CONSUMPTION 🌳

Budget permitting, LED lighting can make a huge difference, but we don’t all have that luxury. Being ‘energy conscious’ is proven, in itself, to have a significant effect on consumption.

❓ QUESTION THE STATUS QUO ❓

Just because it’s the way it’s always been done, doesn’t mean it’s the best way. Question every element of your operation with ESG in mind – are there small changes that can be made that, when you look at the bigger picture, can make a collective difference. E.g. do you NEED a night cleaning team? This requires assets to be utilising similar levels of energy when there are no customers around (heating and lighting). Is there a possibility to eradicate or at least reduce this? Is there an argument to say there should be more cleaning say done in the day time to reduce security risk, add to customer experience as front-line teams AND save energy?

PSA Not claiming to be an #ESG expert but I am one for sharing!

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