Sponda has been ranked among the top companies in the international GRESB survey for the seventh successive year. What explains these excellent results, and what does achieving them require of a company?
Most recently, Sponda received recognition in September 2019. Then, in the property sector’s international GRESB sustainability benchmark study (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark), Sponda was ranked the most sustainable among European companies in its peer group and as the Sector Leader, in other words, the leader in sustainable development in its sector.
"Sustainability is co-operation with commitment from both customers as well as stakeholders."
This is the seventh successive year Sponda has achieved GRESB awards. What explains these excellent results?
“We have been systematically working for sustainability since 2009. Operations permeate through the organisation and also the senior management actively monitors the achievement of the sustainability objectives,” says Pirkko Airaksinen, Sustainability Manager at Sponda.
Co-operation and continuous innovation
According to Airaksinen, sustainability is co-operation with commitment from both customers as well as stakeholders.
“We have defined our sustainability themes together with our stakeholders. Our responsible operations are guided by Sponda’s Code of Conduct, and we are also committed to complying with the ten principles of the UN’s Global Compact initiative. Our stakeholder co-operation is guided by our own Code of Conduct, which is currently under revision.”
Airaksinen sees that success is based on continuous innovation – constant updates on operational guidelines and practices.
According to Airaksinen, customers are also a driving force behind the innovations as they are more and more aware.
"Customers want to data that they can use to communicate their own responsibility. "
“When it comes to sustainability, we are continuously innovating something new. The most recent example is the possibility to recycle plastic and board waste in all our properties in the Helsinki metropolitan area. We are also renewing our extranet services so that our customers get even more detailed information to help them survey and communicate their sustainability efforts.”
Future needs must be recognised
Also, research plays a major role in improving sustainability.
“We systematically conduct materiality analyses and customer and stakeholder surveys in order to make sure that we are focusing on the right issues,” says Airaksinen.
According to her, customers are increasingly interested in the health and safety issues of properties as well as intelligent solutions. Fighting climate change also has a stronger foothold than before.
”We develop operating models especially for proactive measures. In addition, we are piloting IoT technology and testing new kinds of knowledge management services”.
“When it comes to sustainability, we are continuously innovating something new."
Sponda's novel solutions for office spaces and working environments are further developed also within the MOW coworking community, which gathers together innovative enterprises.
In Airaksinen’s opinion, ambitious objectives are one key factor behind Sponda’s success as a forerunner in sustainability.
“We have just defined our new sustainability objectives to be published at the beginning of next year. We want to challenge ourselves as well as our stakeholders, but we also believe that these objectives are reachable with good and systematic co-operation.”
"Even small changes play a crucial role in this industry.”
As for GRESB results, Airaksinen appreciates the holistic assessment method. In the comparison process, both the corporate responsibility management system and principals as well as implementation and results are evaluated – so in order to make it, the company must succeed in both.
“In sustainability-related efforts, we are inspired by the fact that our joint efforts have genuine significance. Buildings represent approximately 40 per cent of the final energy consumption and over 30 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions are created by the built environment, so even small changes play a crucial role in this industry.”
Stronger business advantages
According to Airaksinen, responsibility is increasingly significant also from a business point of view. Good foresight, sustainable operating models and development actions seeking a long-term increase in value contribute to decreasing expenses and, as a result, to increasing operating income.
“For instance, we achieve substantial savings with energy efficiency investments and renewable energy solutions. Responsibility is also becoming an increasingly important criterion when customers and stakeholders choose partners for business premises and co-operation so companies that operate unsustainably are at risk of being excluded from the competition,” says Airaksinen.
We achieve substantial savings with energy efficiency investments and renewable energy solutions.
At Sponda, responsibility is considered a factor that can create a new kind of added value for customers through more affordable lease costs, easily accessible responsibility data and improved brand image.
“Responsibility helps us convert the customer’s business premises from an expenditure item to a competitive advantage,” Airaksinen summarises.