At Hunter REIM we appreciate that our activities and services may have a direct impact on the natural, human and built environment. Our aim is to is to incorporate environmental, social and governance principles in all our investment processes and our operations so that we can better protect the world in which we live, enhance our society and comply with applicable laws, regulations and other environmentally oriented requirements.
We recognise that real estate is a local business. We have an active approach to property portfolio and asset management, specialising in value-add projects and asset transformations; this means that we are able to take existing assets and improve their environmental efficiency at the same time as fulfilling our clients’ financial goals.
We engage with all our employees and consultants to work together to achieve our commitments set out below:
The Company will:
- Incorporate environmental factors into our business decisions where possible such as travel activities and energy consumption both in the operation of our Company’s business and our managed assets;
- Ensure all new property acquisition deal briefs include ESG specific due diligence;
- Encourage consultants and contractors alike to promote best practice in adopting sustainable environmental policies;
- Involve staff, sub-contractors, suppliers and clients in sustainability initiatives;
- Promote with architects and designers the use of sustainable methods to achieve a more environmentally friendly alternative wherever possible in line with the fiduciary responsibility to investors;
- Encourage sustainable practice with a focus on place-making where possible to enhance the living environment for our communities;
- Aim to reduce the nuisance effect of construction operations and promote good working relationships between contractors and local stakeholders;
- Engage regularly with the communities in which we operate in order to assess any risks or negative impact caused by our activities and to give back where we can;
- Remain focused on supporting our employees’ wellbeing and work together to minimise stress in the workplace;
- Commit to recruit locally in all of our office locations and aim to maintain a diverse selection of employees to include gender, race, age and experience whilst ensuring we select the best candidate for the role;
- Continue to meet and, where possible, exceed the requirements of all applicable legislation and regulations including monitoring compliance with international labour standards set out by the ILO; and
- Ensure that all staff are aware of this document and of the consequences of their activities in line with our Company’s disciplinary procedures.
The responsibility for implementation of ESG initiatives remains with the Senior Management and the appointed Sustainability Director of our Company. However it is imperative that all employees are aware of and are committed to achieving these standards. All employees of the Company will be required to act in accordance with our Company’s Employee Handbook which addresses how our staff should comply with our ESG strategy, our Code of Ethics and our anti-bribery policy and procedure.
In addition, consultants and contractors will be required to cooperate with the promotion of environmental management where possible.
Governance and Disclosure
- We have a board level appointee with accountability for sustainability;
- An ESG section is included in all of the Company’s Board Papers and Annual Reports;
- Our ESG strategy is discussed weekly at our staff meetings; and
- We review our ESG policy annually.
What we do
Our Managed Assets
Hunter UK Retail Unit Trust
We work with CBRE to implement an ESG-focused strategy for the Trust’s managed assets.
The Trust takes part in a GRESB survey on an annual basis and alongside CBRE identifies areas where we can make improvements.
In 2019 the Trust has implemented a number of new initiatives including:
- Creation of a tenant handbook which will be appended to lease documentation and issued to all occupiers. This will advise occupiers on sustainable procurement and shopfitting practices as well as utility data sharing processes.
- The preparation of ESG risk assessments for assets within the portfolio. This will score our assets based on criteria such as safety, GHG emissions, energy efficiency and socio-economic impact. These scores will then be benchmarked against similar assets.
- The implementation of a Data Management System to allow the effective benchmarking of utility data.
The following initiatives have been implemented at Cameron Toll:
- Investment in new covered bike storage, doubling the existing provision;
- Installation of water bottle refilling station;
- The appointment of an M&E consultant to review energy performance, implementation of new waste management contract; and
- Installation of beehives and wildflower meadow on the roof to increase biodiversity and offer educational opportunities to the local community.
The business park at Exchange Quay has been improved with the creation of a new public realm and investment in providing new onsite amenities, bike storage, a gym activity membership, shower facilities, implementation of a new running and yoga club and installation of new electric vehicle charging points.
Our staff are our most important asset and staff retention is very important to us. Our staff are required to complete an employee satisfaction survey on an annual basis. The anonymous responses are reviewed and discussed by the Board. Our staff are also encouraged to attend annual 1:1 sessions where they can discuss their physical and mental wellbeing. We also have weekly staff meetings weekly where our employees are encouraged to speak about any concerns they might have in an open forum.
We are committed to both the mental and physical wellness of our staff and we provide all our staff with:
- Private medical insurance;
- Fresh fruit in the office;
- Corporate gym membership;
- Cycle to work scheme;
- Loans for season tickets;
- Annual wellness events to get all of our staff outdoors and active; and
- Volunteering leave whereby we actively encourage our staff to contribute to their local communities and allow volunteering leave for them to carry out various activities and services, in particular with The National Trust for Scotland.
Our staff are asked to ensure that they have one ESG specific objective in their annual performance appraisal for review and discussion at the year end.
All of our staff comply with the ethical standards imposed by their professional bodies, our Company’s handbook and the Company’s ESG objectives.
Supporting Local Communities
All staff take part in a ‘Community Engagement Day’ each year within their local community. From 2019 this has been done with the support of Business in The Community. In December 2019 all our staff participated in a one-day enterprise workshop at Prestonfield Primary School which was designed to improve pupils’ awareness, aspirations and attitude towards the world of work.
In addition to this we set aside 5% of our profits to donate to a variety of charities. The charities we have supported in 2019 include Stand Up To Cancer and Comic Relief, Teenage Cancer Trust, Kidney Research, Claire House Children’s Hospice, Cancer Research, REACT, Maggies Edinburgh, Kids OR and Parklands Primary School.
Our Company’s Objectives for 2020
The environmental impact of our Company’s operations is relatively small however our goal is to minimise this impact and reduce our carbon footprint in any way that we can. The main areas where we have identified we could do better is in travel, waste management and in the use of our resources.
We therefore pledge to:
- Reduce our consumption of paper. Whilst the paper we use in our office already carries the EU ecolabel we aim to vastly reduce our use of paper and have implemented the use of ‘Paperless’ software in 2019 for all of the invoices which are settled by our office. We believe this will ensure that paper consumption in our offices reduces by 30%;
- Promote alternatives to air travel in order to reduce our contribution to carbon emissions. To do this we will seek to use more sustainable options to engage with our stakeholders such as video and audio conferencing and the use of remote technologies and will continue to make investment in our communications infrastructure to ensure that this is possible;
- When travel is unavoidable, we will advocate trains, rather than flights, particularly when trips involve an overnight stay. The nature of our business means that we need to balance our staff’s responsibility for managing our assets against their own health and wellbeing and that of their families;
- Attempt to offset 100% of our carbon emissions by using an online tool to calculate our CO2 emissions and making a donation to the Woodland Trust;
- Reduce the amount of office waste sent to landfill by 50% by the end of 2021;
- Discourage the use of single use plastics and coffee cups by providing coffee which is made on the premises using washable mugs and recyclable coffee capsules. Recycling stations are also conveniently located in the office;
- To create our own bespoke ESG scoring matrix for all new property acquisitions;
- To create our own bespoke social impact benchmarking system aligned to the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment to enhance the walkability and liveability attributes of our assets and the communities in which we operate;
- To liaise regularly with our tenants and issue all of them with a Tenant Handbook setting out our steps to promote the efficient management of their property and the creation of a safe and successful trading environment; and
- Ensure all our employees enjoy a good work/life balance with increased flexibility to allow them to pursue activities that enhance their health and wellbeing and to invest in technology and training.