Meeting with Eléonore Devaud, CSR Director – Altarea Cogedim

“Our vision of the city of tomorrow is a dense city with a lot of proximity and diversity, which responds to the challenge of low carbon.”

For episode 8 of Season 5 of Urban Chronicles™ on the theme “CSR & Real Estate”, Urban Chronicles™ interviewed exclusively Eléonore Devaud, CSR Director of Altarea Cogedim. Urban renewal in dense areas, certification as an awareness-raising tool or levers for reducing carbon footprints, discover this week the challenges at the heart of Altarea Cogedim’s CSR approach.

Green Soluce: Altarea Cogedim is a recognized player for its commitment to sustainable development. How did you develop your CSR approach based on the three axes: Customers, Cities and Talents?

Eléonore Devaud, Altarea Cogedim: Two years ago, we did a real fundamental work to redesign our materiality matrix in order to determine our most relevant CSR issues. We worked with about 15 external stakeholders (among them architects and investors, etc.) and with representatives of our business lines. Our objective was to achieve a CSR approach that is directly associated with the Group’s ambitions and strategy. This ambition is evidenced on our integrated annual report, which fully addresses our most relevant CSR issues related to Clients, Cities and Talents.

GS: How did you operationalize your commitments?

ED: Altarea Cogedim brings together all the real estate businesses, thus bringing a complexity when defining common objectives and commitments. Nonetheless, we have worked together with the internal teams to ensure that our commitments are grounded in reality and find a concrete operational application.

“Altarea Cogedim approach is based on pragmatic action in conjunction with teams rather than the production of objectives in chambers that would not correspond to the reality on the ground.”

GS: Climate has become a central issue for the economy and the real estate sector. How did you specifically address this issue?

ED: We first measured our carbon footprint for each activity before working on reduction targets. We then realized that our emissions for scopes 1 and 2 were very low because they were mainly related to office activities or to assets with low carbon energy consumption.

To reduce our direct footprint, we have made a commitment to reduce our CO2 emissions between 2010 and 2020 by 70% on our assets (shopping centres). In 2017, we were at -57% thus we are on the right track to reach our final target by 2020

With regard to our expanded indirect emissions, our three main emission sources are: transport of people coming into buildings, materials used in construction projects, and energy consumed by users. To reduce our indirect footprint, our design choices are therefore very strong:

– On mobility, we develop urban projects that are well connected to public transport. Thus, 99% of our homes and 100% of our offices are less than 500m from public transport.

“Our vision of the city of tomorrow is a dense city with a lot of proximity and diversity, which responds to the challenge of low carbon.”

– For the materials used, we believe that one of the key issues is rehabilitation. One of our subsidiaries, History and Heritage, is dedicated to this. This is a challenge when aiming for low-carbon buildings, but we are convinced that building rehabilitation and building the “city on the city” – thinking in terms of reversibility and extending a building’s life span – is the future of urban renewal. Optimizing material resources also requires a better “intensity use” of the buildings and that don’t become obsolete.

Multi-purpose projects: On more than 80% of our office buildings, we are working on projects that are multi-purpose (office and retail for example), and which can be transformed and adapted to the technologies of the future. For example, the Ready2services label is one of the tools we use for our office buildings.

– Energy: Concerning the energy consumed by the users of our buildings, we work both on a logic of outperformance and anticipation of regulations, but we also believe in working on the behaviour of users. The nudge is a tool that we look closely at to change behaviour gently.

GS: Altarea Cogedim is determined to integrate CSR, its environmental and social aspects, into its strategy and business model [CSR Brochure, May 2017], can you expand on the social integration ?

ED: As we develop many mixed projects, we have a real stake in diversifying the commercial offer by including players that are not only the big brands. To this end, we have created a new model of solidarity-based commercial real estate, called SoCo. Launched in December 2018, it is a real estate company that allows companies in the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) to access commercial sites in the heart of metropolitan areas. This will be deployed on a first project in the 13th arrondissement of Paris before 2021. Beyond the positive social impact, this initiative is an assurance for the local authorities that our promise, as promoter, is sustainable over time via this new property company. This can be a fundamental example for projects related to associations, sport, art or culture.

GS: What about the environmental aspect?

ED: On the environmental sideour entry point are the  certification schemes: 100% of our offices are HQE and BREEAM, 100% of our shops are BREEAM and 100% of our homes are NF Habitat. Even though our residential customers are often not very sensitive to these subjects. In addition, we want to be at the forefront of new certifications. For example, we immediately adopted the BiodiverCity label on the integration of biodiversity in real estate projects, and we obtained the first global label for a shopping centre with the Cap 3000 project in Nice!

GS: As we are beginning 2019, what is your assessment of your CSR actions implemented during 2018 and what are your ambitions for this year?

ED: Rather than judging the success and achievement of our commitments, what is interesting is to see how CSR is truly infused in all the Group’s businesses and this is the real success. This concerns both the real estate businesses, but also all cross-functional activities such as purchasing.

The BiodiverCity label of Cap 3000 has also enabled us to implement innovative approaches to the issue of nature in cities and this has been an inspiration to many other projects, it has been an important tool for raising awareness! Moreover, on the issue of well-being and health, we make extensive use of the WELL certification on office operations, which provides interesting examples, but on the residential sector we may lack the tools and it is not easy to get the teams on board. Finally, for two years in a row, we have been ranked first among listed companies in France by the GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) for our CSR performance, of which we are particularly proud.

GS: What are the topics you want to cover in the coming years?

ED: First of all, our job is to be always present on all major subjects: quality of life in the city, climate change, circular economy, energy efficiency, … and we must continually support and train our teams. Especially for the coming year, we want to focus on adapting to climate change: our role is to provide solutions so that people can feel good and safe whatever the weather conditions despite a warming climate.

Finally, we are in the process of deploying EHS companies in our shopping centres and we are in the process of structuring a responsible purchasing approach.

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Green SoluceMeeting with Eléonore Devaud, CSR Director – Altarea Cogedim
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