Sonae Sierra has just had its Environmental Management System (EMS) certified in accordance with ISO Standard 14001:2004. This makes it the first shopping and leisure centre company to be awarded this environmental certificate.
As well as the company's own certification, Sonae Sierra has also had two of its shopping and leisure centres certified, the Centro Colombo in Lisbon and NorteShopping in Matosinhos. In fact, the company's Environmental Management System is already being applied to all of its centres.
Awarded by LRQA - Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance - a prestigious certification company and the only one in the world accredited to operate in all industrial sectors, this certification is the culmination of a long and committed process launched by Sonae Sierra to achieve the highest environmental management standards and ensure the most environmentally friendly practices.
ISO Standard 14001:2004 certification means that Sonae Sierra has achieve yet another target of its corporate responsibility policy. This provides clear competitive advantages, and of course improves environmental performance and enhances the market value of its shopping and leisure centres.
Certification brings with it added responsibility on the part of all Sonae Sierra employees, because environmental performance has to be constantly improved, and all of the requirements of ISO Standard 14001:2004 have to be scrupulously observed, if certification is to be maintained in future audits.
By the end of 2008, ISO Standard 14001:2004 certification will extend to all of Sonae Sierra's current shopping and leisure centres.
For Francisco Ferreira, member of Quercus National Board, "nowadays the constraints imposed by compliance with the Kyoto Protocol mean that efforts to save energy, and cut waste and water consumption are indispensable. Environmental certification is one fundamental step along this path to more sustainable development. With the services sector responsible for a significant share of this consumption in the urban environment, environmental monitoring in major shopping centres is an important component of the effort and transparency vis-à-vis the community."
João Joanaz de Melo, an Environmental Engineering Professor at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, considers that "Sonae Sierra's certification is ground-breaking, and an important sign of social responsibility. It represents a verifiable commitment to the improvement of environmental performance. This certification is not an end in itself, but a tool to effectively improve the environment (e.g. by decreasing water and energy consumption as well as pollutant emissions) and captivate all interested parties (visitors, tenants, employees, administration, suppliers)."
A consistent policy
Naturally, Sonae Sierra's Environmental Policy is based on the philosophy outlined by the Sonae Group, set forth many years ago by its Chairman, Mr Belmiro de Azevedo. His aim was to promote sustainable development and commit the company to environmental conservation as a decisive factor in the success of its business, and to consolidate the Sonae Group's place in the community.
Realising that the group's long-term success is intimately linked to a management model that includes environmental management as one of its corporate priorities, for the 21st century Sonae took up the gauntlet of becoming increasingly eco-efficient. That meant mobilising all employees, and the active involvement of customers and suppliers.
It is against that background that Sonae Sierra, the Centro Colombo and NorteShopping, having gradually perfected their Environmental Management System, have now been awarded certification in accordance with ISO Standard 14001:2004.
It is the culmination of a long journey. The first step was taken in 1997, when environmental diagnoses began for the shopping centres open at that time. In this way we identified the main environmental impacts of our business. This validated Sonae Sierra's Environmental Policy, which was approved in 1998 and revised in 2004.