Forum made a great leap forward in BREEAM sustainability – how was it accomplished?
The Forum shopping centre improved its BREEAM environmental certificate rating by two grades in one go. What role did the shopping centre’s management, service providers and tenants play in achieving this goal?
When the property investment company Sponda acquired Forum—the best-known shopping centre in Finland—in early 2016, it was the largest-ever property transaction in Helsinki. Following the acquisition, a great deal of development work has been done at the shopping centre.
The renewal measures have produced concrete results. Under Sponda’s ownership, Forum has been selected as Finland’s best shopping centre and the best shopping centre in the Nordic countries. The latest recognition achieved by Forum is its BREEAM In-Use Very Good environmental certificate, which represents an improvement of two rating grades compared to the previous certificate.
Extensive experience and a great team spirit
There are three main factors behind Forum’s swift and successful efforts to improve sustainability: Sponda’s pre-existing operating models, dedicated service providers and the strong team spirit that characterised the development efforts.
At Forum everything is done together with the shopping centre’s entire personnel. Forum’s personnel includes not only the shopping centre’s management and tenants, but also the subcontractors who work at the shopping centre to provide security and cleaning services, for example.
The positive atmosphere at Forum means that the new sustainability targets and operating models were adopted quickly and the results are monitored with great enthusiasm.
What does it take to engage sustainability efforts?
Sponda’s Sustainability Manager Pirkko Airaksinen also emphasises the significance of co-operation when it comes to improving the certification grade.
“For sustainability-related efforts to produce good results, the property owner must establish long-term targets and make a strong commitment to them, and the service provider must have the necessary expertise to turn the targets into concrete actions. However, the most important thing is to get all of the users of the property engaged and committed to long-term co-operation. This is an area where Lassila & Tikanoja, a key service provider at Forum, and the shopping centre’s management have played a major role,” Airaksinen says.
Sponda has selected contractual partners who are leading players in their respective fields and committed to the company’s environmental targets.
One factor behind the improved BREEAM rating was an impressive increase of 20 per cent in Forum’s waste recycling rate.
“L&T’s environmental co-ordinator has reviewed all 140 shops at Forum and provided practical guidance to their personnel on how they should sort the waste they produce. Neat and logically laid out recycling points have been placed on the loading platform, and illustrated signage has made sorting a smoother process,” Hatakka adds.
“Environmental certificate is one way of proving that sustainability goes beyond the surface and constitutes the core of all operations.”
The development efforts at Forum have also extended beyond the premises of the shopping centre.
One of Sponda’s strengths is that the company has comprehensive expertise in both shopping centres and office properties. Right from the start at Forum, the sustainability efforts were also extended to the 40,000 square metres of office space located above the shopping centre.
Efforts to improve sustainability benefit everyone
Sustainability now goes beyond mere environmental considerations. Both at Sponda and at Forum, sustainability is seen as a diverse source of competitive advantage that is playing an increasing role in customers’ decisions.
“International chains want to work with sustainable partners.”
International chains want to work with sustainable partners. Consumer customers also have high expectations of sustainability. Environmental certificates are one way of demonstrating sustainability and proving that it goes beyond the surface and constitutes the core of all operations.
The efforts to improve sustainability have also produced concrete benefits for the shopping centre’s personnel. Forum now has new bicycle parking areas to promote incidental exercise, and it will soon also boast the city’s nicest public restrooms that are also highly energy-efficient.
“Forum will soon boast the city’s nicest public restrooms that are also highly energy-efficient.”
The reporting that the certification process involves has also helped better understand the environmental benefits of the work done to further improve sustainability.
Detailed monitoring reveals the significance of the things done—even the small things—when they are done long enough. Improved energy efficiency benefits not only the environment, but also the tenants, and it increases the value of the property.
Making sustainability-related efforts more visible
At Forum, the work of improving sustainability is seen as a journey that will never end. Nevertheless, the aim is to increasingly communicate information about the work that has already been done, and the future targets, to both customers and stakeholders.
Another example of responsibility at Forum is the Joulupuu charity campaign during the Christmas season. The national campaign collected Christmas presents for children living in challenging circumstances.
BREEAM In-Use Very Good environmental certificate
- BREEAM In-Use is an international six-tier green building certification system aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the use of buildings as well as the development of healthier working environments.
- Forum’s new certification applies to the technical attributes and maintenance of the entire Forum block’s retail and office premises.
- Forum improved its certification rating by two grades compared to 2016.
- The factors behind the fine result include the property’s improved energy efficiency and comprehensive energy efficiency measures, excellent public transport connections and services, the active development of maintenance processes and a comprehensive environmental policy that includes targets and practical measures.
- Forum’s waste recycling rate has increased by more than 20 per cent from the previous years. The waste recovery rate is 100 per cent.
- Sponda’s sustainability partners at Forum are Lassila & Tikanoja and Colliers.
- Green Building Partners Ltd was responsible for Forum’s certification process and auditing.