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Jovana Cvetković is the Development, TO, and Innovations Director at MPC Properties. /// credit: MPC Properties
Jovana Cvetković is the Development, TO, and Innovations Director at MPC Properties. /// credit: MPC Properties

“Contribute to the well-being of the community we gather”

“The bottom line is that we use a systematic and comprehensive approach to develop sustainable real estate.” This is how Jovana Cvetković, Development, TO, and Innovations Director at MPC Properties, describes the company’s principle of commitment to innovative and integrated business. In this interview, she explains the steps MPC Properties has taken and will take on the company’s ESG journey.

ACROSS: MPC Properties has developed a comprehensive socially responsible strategy in accordance with ESG goals (Environmental, Social, Governance). Can you tell us more about it?

Jovana Cvetković: Our business has a far-reaching impact on the market in which we operate, so we need to develop and implement projects that contribute to the well-being of the entire community we gather. We believe expanding the understanding of value in the real estate sector is necessary beyond traditional financial metrics. ESG principles are implemented through the company’s strategy. They are executed across the entire MPC Properties portfolio, which consists of business buildings and shopping centers, including the UŠĆE Shopping Center, UŠĆE Towers business complex, BEO Shopping Center, Navigator business complex, as well as many others.

ACROSS: Could you guide us through your E, S, and G steps?

Cvetković: In the segment of the E (Environmental) factor, we have developed and continue to develop a series of projects that represent examples of the implementation of innovative solutions of the “scaled, circular economy process” at the micro level of a building. It also includes closed sustainable solutions at the facility level, with the primary goal of reducing the carbon footprint and promoting the Green Agenda in Serbia. These are, among other things, the projects for installing solar power plants on the roofs of our shopping centers, recycling, composting, promotion of alternative means of transportation, installation of green roofs, promotion of biodiversity and urban beekeeping, implementation of effective strategies for managing electricity, water, waste, and others. We are also focused on building a solid community gathered around our shopping centers and office buildings through various socially responsible initiatives and marketing activities, which promote inclusion, diversity, loyalty programs, and care for the respective community. This way, we are strengthening the S (Social) component of our ESG strategy. Finally, I would like to emphasize the G (Governance) factor, and the fact that all innovative projects are implemented in accordance with multi-level complex tender procedures, where transparency and anti-corruption are supported, and good global practices are implemented in the company’s procedures.

ACROSS: What does the principle of commitment to innovative and integrated business mean?

Cvetković: The bottom line is that we use a systematic and comprehensive approach to develop sustainable real estate that, in the long term, reduces risk, increases value, and has a significant impact on profitability by reducing operational costs in the exploitation stage and on the environment.

ACROSS: What do projects in accordance with the principles of green construction mean for your company?

Cvetković: First of all, I would like to point out that MPC Properties is the first company in the local (perhaps even regional) market that has significantly contributed to the promotion and popularization of green construction during the construction of its buildings. This is confirmed by the buildings in the company’s portfolio that obtained the most important international certificates. UŠĆE Shopping Center is one of the first and largest certified shopping centers in the region and Europe in the operational phase. The Navigator Business complex was designed and built in accordance with the prestigious LEED Gold certificate, and the business building UŠĆE Tower Two was designed and built in accordance with BREEAM standards. Certificates are generally crucial because, during their implementation, the quality of the facility is improved. With an adequate selection of equipment and the correct mode of operation of the technical systems, optimal comfort of the space is achieved, which additionally contributes to reducing the consumption of electrical energy and water, reducing the harmful impact on the environment, reducing the emission of harmful gases and waste, but also ensures a healthy environment for employees and users of facilities, which consequently contributes to the preservation of collective health. Placing the well-being of its tenants and visitors in the foreground, MPC Properties is also the first company in Serbia that has been awarded the most prestigious “WELL Health-Safety” certificate for a portfolio of eight business and retail facilities, awarded by the International Institute for the Assessment of the Quality of Living in Buildings (the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI)).

credit: MPC Properties

ACROSS: UŠĆE Shopping Center has a solar power plant, a composting machine, and a parking station for eco vehicles. How significant is your contribution to decarbonization and a healthier ecosystem?

Cvetković: To harmonize business operations of MPC Properties with the promotion of the Green Agenda in Serbia, and in connection with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and environmental protection, we have implemented two innovative technical solutions at the UŠĆE Shopping Center, while the third is in the process phase. A 50kW solar power plant is installed on the roof of UŠĆE Shopping Center on an area of 400 sq m. The generated energy is currently used to charge electric vehicles in the garage of the UŠĆE SC, and the installation of additional solar panels on an area of 1,600 sq m with a power of 311 kW is planned. Another innovative solution relates to the introduction of composting, which is particularly important for us because shopping centers and office buildings are generators of large amounts of organic waste. That is why we are particularly proud of the project of purchasing a composting machine located at the UŠĆE Shopping Center, which is part of the UŠĆE commercial complex. And with its purchase, in addition to recycling, composting has been introduced as an additional waste management strategy. Composting brings innovation that is reflected in a new business model, which involves waste treatment at the place where it is generated. It is essential to point out that the process takes place without methane emissions; the volume of waste is reduced by about 85%, as well as the emission of harmful gases caused by transportation and logistics. Thanks to the composting machine we have purchased, we turn the organic waste generated in the UŠĆE Shopping Center and UŠĆE Towers office buildings into valuable compost. In addition to these two innovations, the MPC team of experts for sustainable projects is installing an extensive green roof on the UŠĆE SC, on an area of 800 sq m. This roof will have an integrated rainwater collection system for the irrigation of the planned vegetable garden, and the rainwater collection capacity ranges from 12 to 40l/sq m.

ACROSS: MPC promotes alternative means of transportation. What does this mean?

Cvetković: First of all, it implies an effort to provide users of eco-friendly vehicles, whether it is electric cars, bicycles, or scooters, with all the necessary infrastructure, comfort, and adequate charging stations through our network of shopping centers and business centers. MPC facilities have as many as 46 charging points for electric cars. UŠĆE Shopping Center is the first shopping center in the Balkans with a BIKEEP parking station with chargers for electric bicycles and scooters. In addition, there are 400 bicycle parking spaces across the entire MPC Properties portfolio, which promote alternative means of transportation and their contribution to clean air and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the popularization of eco vehicles, we also contribute to promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle and providing smart alternatives for urban city environments, which indirectly affects the health of our visitors.

ACROSS: How have you responded to rising prices and labor shortages this year, and what are your company’s plans for the next period?

Cvetković: The answer lies in all of the above. More than ten years ago, MPC Properties started implementing sustainable and innovative concepts in every segment of its business operations. In the last few years, we have been prepared for every crisis. Moreover, we pay great attention to the education of employees, business partners, and the market in general. We plan to continue strengthening socially responsible initiatives with new, sustainable strategic partnerships.