Aware of the importance of further integrating environmental issues into its real estate strategy, Ascencio has,worked on structuring its ESG policy around its three,constituent pillars, namely the environmental, social,and governance aspects of it’s activities.
More specifically, as a listed real estate company active in retail, Ascencio defines its ESG strategy with the objective of improving the sustainability of its real estate portfolio, operations and activities.
To do so, Ascencio takes into account the stakes and expectations of its various stakeholders thanks to its positioning of proximity both with its market and with the local communities where the Company operates.
United Nations sustainable development Goals
In 2015, the United Nations set out sustainable development goals to communicate the way forward to a better and more sustainable future for all.
Some of these objectives have particularly caught Ascencio’s attention and have been selected as pillars for the development of its ESG strategy due to their particular link with both Ascencio’s activities/values and the activities of its retail tenants.
Eradicate hunger, ensure food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
Access to health
Enable everyone to live in good health and promote the well-being of all and at all ages.
Access to quality education
Ensure equal access to quality education for all and promote lifelong learning opportunities.
Use of renewable energy
Ensuring access for all to reliable, sustainable and modern energy services at an affordable cost.
Establishing sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Fighting climate change
Take urgent actions to fight climate change and its impacts.
Ascencio’s ASG strategy
- Decision-making criteria
- Database & management platform
- Optimising energy performance
- Photovoltaic panels
- Charging stations
- Supplier & tenants charters
- Internal satisfaction survey
- Positive office
- Telework policy
- Social & philanthropic policy
- Governance structure
- Remuneration policy
- Communication of ESG standards
parks according to the labelling standards in force. More particularly, Ascencio has set itself the objective of obtaining a BREEAM-in-use ‘very good’ label1 for all the retail parks in its portfolio by 2026. Six sites have been identified (two in Belgium and four in France).
Ascencio started this exercise in the summer of 2022 with the analysis of 2 retail parks, one in France (“Le Parc des Drapeaux” in Rots), the other in Belgium (“Bellefleur” in Couillet). The results of the pre-assessment phase on these two sites are expected by the end of 2022.
BREEAM in use is a sustainability standard that applies to existing buildings. The objectives behind obtaining such a label are multiple: to be part of a sustainable development approach, reduce operating costs, increase customer loyalty, to enhance the value of the Company’s assets, access to green financing sources, etc.
1. BREEAM in-use is an international method of assessing the environmental performance of a building in use.
2. DECISION-MAKING CRITERIA
Within the framework of its investment policy and the transformation and management of its portfolio, Ascencio aims to optimise the environmental performance of its assets. In particular, for new acquisitions, assets with a BREEAM ‘very good’ rating will be favoured.
3. DATABASE& MANAGEMENT PLATFORM
In order to reduce the energy consumption linked to the use of its buildings, Ascencio has created a partnership, starting with its French portfolio, with its tenants in order to encourage the exchange of consumption data and has implemented specific software to analyse this data. Together, Ascencio and its retail tenants will discuss possible improvements in order to achieve the desired objectives.
The systematic recording and analysis of these measurements will provide the Company with a more objective view of the energy performance of its buildings. This comprehensive audit and the monitoring of this performance over time will enable the Company to establish a comprehensive action plan to reduce the carbon footprint of its portfolio over time and to produce
the necessary reports illustrating the progress made in environmental performance.
4. OPTIMISING ENERGY PERFORMANCE
Ascencio is committed, for all its renovation / extension projects, to optimise the energy consumption of the buildings concerned, in line with its ESG strategy and the legal obligations in this area.
5. PHOTOVOLTAIC PANELS
Ascencio intends to deploy a structured policy of placing photovoltaic panels on the roofs of its real estate portfolio. Technical audits have been carried out for some buildings in its portfolio and are in progress for others. Ascencio should be able to complete the first orders for photovoltaic installations at end of 2022 – beginning of 2023.
The installation of photovoltaic panels would allow the production of locally generated green electricity to be used within the buildings concerned for the benefit of its tenants, at cost levels below the current cost of energy.
6. CHARGING STATIONS
Ascencio has started to install charging stations for electric vehicles in the parking lots of its retail parks and at its head office in Gosselies (Belgium). The parkings of the retail parks in Messancy (Belgium) and Saint-Aunes (France) have recently had 6 superchargers installed. A study is currently underway to continue the installation of recharging stations, where possible,
at possible, to all the parking lots in the Company’s portfolio. To do so, Ascencio will rely on the expertise of recognized players in the market.
7. SUPPLIER & TENANT CHARTERS
Questions relating to the partnership with tenants about the transmission of the consumption data from buildings have already been integrated into the leases.
1. EVALUATION & TRAINING
Ascencio has developed a corporate culture in which each employee receives annual feedback from his or her manager on the work done and the skills developed over the past year.
In 2022, 100% of our employees has received a performance evaluation.
Ascencio pays particular attention to the constant development of its teams.
More concretely, this translates into:
- The creation of an Ascencio Academy
The Ascencio Academy consists of a series of in-house training sessions (for the whole team) delivered, in turn, by the members of the executive comittee. In practice, these training sessions will take place every 2 months for a duration of two hours.
Members of the executive comittee will deliver courses on specific topics internal to the Company or the market.
The aim of this initiative is to develop not only the teams in terms of their own knowledge and personal motivation but also the Company as a whole.
This initiative, initiated by the human resources department will start as from January 2023.
- The establishment of an inhouse “buddy system”
One-to-one mentoring will be introduced in the course of the 2022/2023 financial year in order to gain a better understanding of what other departments in the Company are doing.
During each financial year, each member of the executive committee will be accompanied for one day by an employee who is not already a member of his or her team.
- Participation in ad hoc external training
- Ad hoc external training
On the basis of the individual needs expressed during the annual appraisals or identified by the managers, an individual training plan will be put in place once it has been validated
by the executive committee.
- Language plan
Ascencio has also taken the decision to offer the necessary English language training to those who need it in order to eventually enable the whole team to express themselves easily in writing.
At the same time, Ascencio is committed to supporting certain external collaborators with their education. During the past financial year, Ascencio hosted a trainee in a company. Through this type of initiative, the Company enables students to be confronted with the business world and thus be better prepared for it at the end of their studies. This project resulted in the successful
completion of the student’s education and the start of her professional career with a permanent contract in a local company.
2. INTERNAL SATISFACTION SURVEY
During the 2022/2023 financial year Ascencio intends to conduct a survey among its employees to measure their satisfaction and their involvement in the within the Company.
3. HOMEWORKING ET POSITIVE OFFICE
Accelerated by the Covid-19 health crisis, Ascencio has set up a test phase, relating to the organisation of work, in order to balance telework and the presence of employees in the office, by providing them with the tools (telephone, PC, etc.) allowing them to work at home in good conditions.
In tadem the Company has started to think about the concept of its future offices, which is in line with the positive office approach and will promote flexibility, creativity and well-being in the office.
Ascencio has set up a mobility policy for its team, favouring electro-mobility. In concrete terms, the Company vehicles are all hybrid or electric and the recharging solutions for these vehicles,
both at the office and at home, are provided by the Company (as mentioned above, several charging stations have already been installed for this purpose at the Company’s headquarters in Gosselies).
5. SOCIAL AND PHILANTHROPIC POLICY
Ascencio has decided to orient its social and philanthropic policy around the following axes:
- Well-being, with a particular focus on sport for local communities;
- Fighting hunger in local communities.
Various initiatives will be carried out both at the level of the portfolio’s retail parks and at the corporate level with the entire Ascencio team.
At the asset level, the initiatives will create value in the short, medium and long term, ensuring that the retail parks have a certain legitimacy within the local communities.
Corporate governance component
GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE AND COMMUNICATION OF CSR STANDARDS
As a B-REIT, Ascencio undertakes a strict annual reporting exercise that adheres to high standards of corporate governance (see annual report 2022 pages 62 to 82).
Also, to support the development and implementation of its ESG policy, Ascencio has strengthened its team during the past year by appointing an Operations & ESG Director to its executive
Ascencio’s desire to develop the environmental management of its portfolio has already been illustrated by the publication in June 2022 of a first report on various performance indicators on
the ESG aspects of its activity according to the EPRA sBPR guidelines. Please refer to pages 128 to 140 of this annual report for the Sustainability Report published in June 2022. This report,
aimed at bringing transparency to the ESG initiatives already taken by the Company, has enabled Ascencio to obtain several distinctions (Silver Award and Most improved Award) granted by
EPRA, the European Public Real Estate Association.