CSR in the activities of shopping centers manager

CSR in the activities of shopping centers manager

Social responsibility has been an integral part of the strategy of Apsys Polska, a real estate developer and manager, since the company’s inception.  It is an expression of the need to define the non-financial purpose of the company’s existence and a long-term commitment to cities and their residents on which Apsys has a large impact due to its activities. Apsys Polska puts the ideas of “responsibility”, “care” and “sustainable development” at the center of its activities, which is reflected both in proprietary programs developed by the company and implemented in managed commercial facilities, as well as initiatives responding to the specific needs of local communities.

Business build on responsibility

Responsibility – this word describes the strategy of Apsys Polska perfectly . Being aware of the impact of the company’s decisions and activities on community and the environment, Apsys has focused on creating sustainable places from the beginning of its activities, minimizing their negative impact on the natural environment and responding to the needs of cities and their residents. CSR performance are the domain of all shopping centers managed by Apsys Polska – not only large, regional ones, but also smaller, located “next door”. They perfectly know the needs of their customers and know how to respond to them, creating not only a friendly shopping space, but also initiating or supporting activities important for local communities. In cooperation with municipal institutions and local foundations, commercial facilities provide space for service centers for residents, branches of municipal libraries and places of local activity, where, among others, they promote the work of amateur artists and craftsmen. They organize classes for parents with children, initiate activities for seniors by financing health centers offering free medical examination packages, and regularly support local blood donation stations by organizing blood collections. They are involved in activities for local shelters for homeless animals, organizing collections of food and accessories and supporting the conscious adoption of pets.

Accessibility first

The responsibility of the property manager’s is, above all, to act for their accessibility to as many people as possible – regardless of age or health. Apsys Polska considers the availability of shopping centers very broadly – as an adaptation of space for people with various types of disabilities, including multiple disabilities, but also seniors, pregnant women or parents and carers of small children. Each of these groups perceives the external environment differently, and therefore needs different solutions. Apsys uses technical possibilities to ensure that everyone has free access to goods and services as well as cultural and entertainment events organized in the gallery. The standard includes comfortable toilets equipped with amenities facilitating use and calling for help in an emergency, as well as babysitting rooms, changing tables, additional parking spaces and spacious elevators. A representative example of implementing the idea of accessibility is Posnania, owned by Apysys Polska, a leading shopping center in Wielkopolska, which in 2018 received the title of Accessibility Leader awarded by the President of the Republic of Poland for adapting the building to the requirements of people with special needs. Posnania, like other shopping centers managed by Apsys Polska, is equipped with a number of technical amenities such as counters, door handles and holders at a level adapted to the needs of different groups, information in audio form after scanning the QR code, buttons in elevetors described in Braille or raised numbers, overlays on the handrails informing where the escalator leads, an information terminal that takes into account the needs and capabilities of people with visual disabilities, non-slip surfaces, labels and plates to help identify places and objects. The center has also been adapted to the presence of guide dogs.

Furthermore, the pilot program “Spectrum of Understanding” implemented in Galeria Katowicka is the first initiative in Poland that has introduced a multi-faceted system of facilities for people with autism spectrum. The elements of program are systematically implemented in the shopping centers managed by Apsys, includes a number of specific solutions that improve the comfort of staying in the building for people with autism spectrum disorders and their carers. These include, among others, quiet hours, i.e. the time when the music and multimedia screens are turned off in the building, which reduces the number of acoustic and visual stimuli, and the quiet room – a special space that can be used by customers who need a temporary release of tension, calm down, separation from various stimuli. One of the most important element of the program are trainings conducted by experts from foundations working for people with autism spectrum. They include both service employees – security or cleaning, as well as employees of individual stores and the administration of the shopping center. They help to understand the needs of people on the autism spectrum and their carers and to respond to them appropriately.

Taking care of an environment at the shopping center

A very important element of CSR activities undertaken by shopping centers managed by Apsys Polska are initiatives to improve the condition of the natural environment. In program called Think Green,  Apsys’ shopping centers have been investing in improving the quality of urban spaces for years: they sow flower meadows, care for biodiversity, arrange apiaries on the roofs of buildings, plant oxygen trees, install bird nesting boxes, and organize urban farms. Striving to reduce CO2 emissions, they promote alternative means of transport, supporting the development of infrastructure necessary for their efficient functioning, such as roofed bicycle shelters, two-wheeler repair stations, city bike stations or chargers for electric cars and scooters. The Think Green program also includes a number of educational activities. During workshops and meetings with experts, their participants will learn, among other things, ways to save electricity and water, as well as gain knowledge about the importance of waste segregation. As part of the Apsys program, it also informs about specific solutions and technologies implemented in shopping centers and explains how they contributed to reducing the carbon footprint and reducing media consumption.

Care for the environment is also manifested in activities aimed at promoting conscious consumption and promoting the circular economy. In many centers managed by Apsys together with the foundation Ubrania do Oddania, regular collections of used clothing are organized, the profits from which are donated to charity. In Posnania, there is a Circular Boutique run by the Ubrania do Oddania foundation where selected and refreshed second-hand clothes can be buy, as well as give away unnecessary. The boutique organizes workshops, discussion panels and special events promoting the ideas of closed circulation.

Posnania is one of the leaders in promoting an eco lifestyle on the Polish shopping center market. An eco-vestibule has been arranged in the building, with two recycling machines: a bottle machine and an electrical waste point where used batteries, toners, CDs, telephones, chargers and light bulbs can be brought. Posnania successfully includes ecology in the calendar of marketing activities, including those of an entertainment nature – it limits the use of plastic elements to build the stage design of organized events, resigns from printed promotional materials, and if it decides to use them, it is made from FSC-certified paper, which guarantees that the wood used in its production came from sustainable farming.

From CSR to ESG

In recent years, activities and initiatives in the field of corporate social responsibility have become part of the ESG policy implemented by Apsys – a business policy regulated by standards and regulations, covering areas related to environmental protection, social responsibility and corporate governance. Apsys Polska has adopted a sustainable development policy and is involved in the implementation of 4 of the areas indicated in the UN Agenda: economic growth and decent work, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, and climate protection activities. The company has set long-term sustainable development goals, the implementation of which is constantly monitored, e.g. by measuring media consumption and CO2 emissions. Since 2020, Apsys publishes an annual report summarizing its environmental, social and governance achievements. Sustainable development policy has also become an important component of Apsys’ wider transformation, which is defined by the organization’s strategic purpose (fr. raison d’etre), understood as a non-financial purpose of existence, referring to what Apsys can do for the planet, both in terms of the environment and the community . It was reflected in the slogan: “Enhance the city by developing unique places that make everyone’s life more beautiful”. This is a long-term commitment that Apsys fulfils every day as a manager of commercial facilities, acting for the benefit of cities and local communities.

Last Updated on July 18, 2023 by Anastazja Lach