Like many companies, X-Leisure was aware that its property portfolio had a number of sustainability impacts that it needed to understand and make a commitment to address. One of the major initial barriers to overcome for X-Leisure was establishing a way of measuring the sustainability impacts of its properties, to be able to identify the key priorities they needed to focus on.

In 2006, the London-based company approached the Upstream Sustainability Team, now part of Jones Lang LaSalle, to look for guidance on how to measure and benchmark the sustainability performance of its properties in the UK.

The Upstream team have run a number of annual property benchmarking services that covers more than 1,500 office and retail properties for over seven years now and recommended that X-Leisure take part in the annual retail benchmarking service. For each participating property there is a detailed online questionnaire that is filled out by the facility or centre manager. The questions cover key areas of sustainability including energy, water, waste, transport, procurement, customers and community.

The responses are analysed and benchmarked against the other retail properties. The results are presented to the facilities and centre managers, as well as head office staff. X-Leisure has found that these presentation sessions are a forum for the different levels of management to not only identify potential barriers to improving sustainability performance but to also share best practice initiatives from successes achieved at the centres and parks.

Furthermore, in X-Leisure’s opinion, the service provides a useful management tool to not only track progress and management within the portfolio, but to see how properties and the portfolio as a whole are performing against their peers in the industry.

In addition to this, the availability of this sort of data helps with communicating corporate sustainability commitments and performance to a wider audience, either on an ad-hoc basis, or as part of the company’s corporate sustainability report.