Viru Keskus joined the partnership agreement of Green Tiger Foundation and nearly the whole team of the centre completed the Green Tiger Academy training programme. After completing the Green Tiger Academy, Viru Keskus has also joined the Green Tiger partnership agreement to empower the sustainability agenda. Green Tiger is a representative organisation for sustainable enterprises that offers them a collaborative platform and tools for implementing changes and achieving sustainability.
Gertti Kogermann, manager of Viru Keskus says: “In the current situation, no enterprise can consider itself successful without green ambitions, because we are facing great challenges as a society, as traders and also as consumers. Viru Keskus has for years been investing in the sustainable operation of our building and aims to be an industry leader in sustainability in general. That is why our team has joined the Green Tiger Academy to formulate our sustainability visions into more specific action plans together with other successful enterprises. Through the developing learning process we are compiling for ourselves a thorough vision toward fulfilling our climate objectives, conserving urban nature and reducing the footprint of consumption. I believe that going forward we can only win, because reducing expenses and sustainability are also strategies that support business.”
Bigger green results lie in a change in consumer behavior, and personal experiences push people to change, as well as in Viru Keskus. Our administrative director Margus Kolumbus has long been the leader of our team in terms of sustainability.
Margus Kolumbus, administrative manager of Viru Keskus, is a passionate amateur fisherman. For years he has had to witness some sobering changes in nature. Margus with the core team of Viru Keskus joined the Green Tiger Academy to become a champion of the sustainable mindset in the trade sector.
“I remember that in the early 2000s you had to wait until April for sea ice to melt in the Nordic countries, but now you can fish nearly all the year round without worrying about ice cover,” Kolumbus states. This might seem great for a fisherman, but the situation is disastrous for the aquatic environment and for fish. The variety of local fish species is suffering due to climate change, invasive non-indigenous species and poor living and breeding conditions. “This is my direct contact with climate change. Obviously these processes cannot and must not be ignored. We must look for possibilities to hinder these processes and improve the situation,” says Margus Kolumbus, administrative manager of Viru Keskus. The Viru Keskus team attended the Green Tiger Academy with a firm aim to boost its sustainability ambitions even more.
In the new strategy of Viru Keskus, we have stipulated that sustainability is one of our main values and thus Viru Keskus joined the partnership agreement of Green Tiger Foundation and the Green Tiger Academy. We can see that the new generation consumer expects that companies and brands would care about safeguarding our natural and social living environment. This is complicated by “greenwashing” that is prevalent in the fashion brands sector. Nevertheless, we like complex challenges and the Green Tiger Academy felt like the perfect format for giving more knowledge about the topic to our team and an excellent starting point for further activities.
The majority of the small team of Viru Keskus has joined the Green Tiger Academy: Gertti Kogermann, the CEO of the centre, Margus Kolumbus, administrative manager, Kristel Sooaru, marketing and communication manager, Epp Näpp, office manager, and Rene Tamberg, tenant relations manager.
They did not have to start with a clean slate as Viru Keskus has been investing for years in reducing the environmental footprint of our building and in increasing its energy efficiency. Our efforts so far have been rewarded with the highest level LEED O&M Platinum rating for the operation and management of a sustainable building for the third time in 2022. No other building in Estonia or any other shopping centre in the Baltic countries has achieved such recognition. “Among other activities we have started to use the R8 technologies that is based on AI and allows us to reduce our energy use by more than 20 %. We have replaced all lighting with LED-systems that allowed us to save 40 % of the costs. We have optimised the resource use in the whole centre,” says Gertti Kogermann, the CEO of Viru Keskus, listing the practical steps to understand and reduce the footprint of the shopping centre.
Energy saving is not enough – awareness must be raised
We went to the Green Tiger Academy with the aim of developing a future ESG framework for Viru Keskus i.e. principles of responsible and sustainable operations. We understood from the beginning that more efficient energy use in the building of the centre would not be enough, but we would need to consider the impact of the shopping centre in a wider context by focusing on the most complicated factor – scope 3 that represents our main impact – our customers and their consumption decisions.
“As the shopping centre with the greatest visitor numbers in Estonia, we must use the levers we have to push the awareness of consumers and their behavioural decisions whenever possible,” says Margus Kolumbus. For example, we need to encourage circular economy that will soon see legislative changes regarding textile waste, but we also need to raise the awareness of the centre’s partners and tenants. Another very important topic is the empowerment of micro-mobility, especially taking into account the general trends in Tallinn. We have taken practical steps in this area by increasing the number of bicycle parking spaces around Viru Keskus and soon there will be 115 spaces.
Aims must be realistic
The most important result we got in cooperation with Green Tiger was the ability to understand what are the possibilities of Viru Keskus to achieve change and what we as a shopping destination cannot change. “Our visits to the Green Tiger workshops were rather challenging as we had set ourselves extremely ambitious tasks. Although the sustainability topic is treacherous and full of shoals, thanks to the support of the Green Tiger champions with advice and knowledge we felt that after many wrong turnings we could at last see our way forward. Once we had set manageable practical objectives, our future plans became much clearer and we found stronger motivation to implement them,” Kogermann states. “We wish to become a trend setter of conscious consumerism that would be able to raise consumer awareness and influence their behaviour. Sustainability is becoming ever more important to customers and international brands, and without abiding by these principles we cannot ensure getting new customers, particularly from the younger generation,” Kogermann points out and recommends other shopping centres to think about their environmental footprint.
By the way, returning to the fishing story of Margus Kolumbus, he has nevertheless noticed one positive trend. He states that there is noticeably less rubbish on the shores of Estonian inland waters. “When I go fishing I usually pick up any rubbish that I find on the shores. The worst was May 2010 when I took 5,800 litres of rubbish to the dump. But when I went fishing yesterday, I only picked up a work glove by the lake,” says Kolumbus on an optimistic note
The experience story of the Viru Keskus team from Green Tiger Academy has also been published in Äripäev.