CSR IS PART OF OUR DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
ECOLOGY – HUMAN IN MIND – EDUCATION – three CSR pillars deeply rooted in our business strategy. It can be seen both in our product area, and in numerous business-related activities as well, including:
Do Nasadzenia (To be planted) – tree planting action;PlasticOver – elimination of plastic from offices;Rowerowelove – education and advocating for commuting to work by bike;Sponsoring local sport – multi-annual support of Torus Wybrzeże Gdańsk handball team, among other projects;Torus Triathlon In Da House – integrating business and employee environments on the competition platform of ‘indoor’ triathlon, in the sport zone of Alchemia complex;Responding to present needs of local community – e.g. financing the purchase of respirators for a local hospital in light of the pandemic; providing care for tenant employees’ children during the teachers’ strike.
THERE IS NO TIME TO WASTE, TREES ARE ‘TO BE PLANTED’
A few years ago we launched the ‘Do nasadzenia’ (To be planted) action, which embraced planting trees in the forest district of Lipusz (Pomorskie voivodship), an area severely affected by a hurricane wind in 2017. On two October Saturdays of 2019 nearly 1,500 people, employed by various Tricity companies and institutions, supported by foresters, reconstructed eleven hectares of the forest. We planted close to 110,000 saplings of birch, larch, pine, and other tree species. On October 16, 2020, the next edition saw 850 people attend the event, representing communities from within and outside of Tricity firms. We collectively planted another 90,000 saplings, which in mere decades will make up a thick, soaring forest! Up to now, assisted by close to 2,500 people, we have afforested twenty hectares of land, planting 200,000 saplings along the way. And that is not it, as we are planning subsequent editions of the event.
The involvement of the business environment in the reconstruction of forests is of great value, and can be considered from several different dimensions. The first one, as is the case, is an obvious one – planting new trees, caring about clean air, and compensating for the carbon footprint. Our action, however, the fact which is underlined by foresters, provides many ‘city’ people with a wonderful opportunity to further explore the forest, and learn about its functional principles. It also offers a chance to take a closer look at the foresters’ work, ensures integration, and makes up an educational platform for children to learn how the forest emerges.
SPORT COMPLEX IN OFFICE BUILDING
MORE THAN SPACE – this slogan has accompanied us for many years. When more than ten years ago we were beginning the construction works of the first stage of Alchemia – an office building with the biggest recreational-sport centre in Tricity (with swimming pools, saunas, fitness hall, sport gymnasium with full-sized basketball/volleyball court, and a climbing wall), the market looked in with a bit of disbelief. There were many who considered that idea too bold in the given market circumstances. Though, several years on from the erection of this facility, it is hardly a surprising sight to see fitness centres, gyms, or yoga halls, located directly inside office buildings or in their direct vicinity. Indeed, it was a courageous business decision, but also a well-thought-through one. What is equally important, it was in line with our paramount value as to build with humans in mind, considering their comfort, needs, health, and well-being in the workplace. The well-being trend is currently the natural continuation and extension of this approach on the office market. We actually might have been the very precursors of this trend. Who knows?
The greatest measure of our success is actually reflected in the manner in which particular Alchemia sport-recreational facilities perform, how many people utilize their functions on a daily basis (and not just employees, but also local residents, schools, pupils), and what events the facilities host. But Alchemia is not only associated with sport and recreation, but also with commerce, service, and food, which is reflected in nearly twenty different business entities running their activities in Alchemia.
PASSAGEWAY AND WAVE YOU CAN SIT ON
Between Argon and Neon buildings (in its ground floor areas) there are numerous commercial and gastronomical premises, which altogether create an open passageway space. It is a unique spot for a big-city housing, a meeting hub, a place of consumption and relaxation, located along the traffic route that connects the train station with Grunwaldzka Avenue. The passageway has become a focal point of Alchemia, an area that merges paths of office building employees, students, local residents, and random passers-by. Thereby, we set sights on accurate design of this very space, filling it with small architecture elements – specially designed benches to relax on, greenery, and small trees.
Everything has been made of the exotic Bangkirai trees that have their home in India, Malesia, or the Philippines, among other places. Thanks to that, the passageway is resistant not only to weather changes, but also to continuous human activity. The designers decided to use the wave concept (ribbon) – everlasting and everchanging, making up a functional space. From the floor it gracefully morphs into benches, with benches later changing into an inclined space on which one can lay down if wishes so.
From the very outset the goal of the designers was to create an original and appealing public space, a friendly spot you want to visit. As one can clearly see on a warm, sunny day, the goal has been successfully achieved.
TRIATHLON AND INTEGRATION UNDER OFFICE BUILDING ROOF
Back in 2015 we initiated – as the first ever event of that kind in Poland – a triathlon competition conducted entirely indoors. Over the next couple of years the recreational-sport zone of the Alchemia complex turned into a competition arena for one day, primarily to accommodate corporate relay race teams, but also the daredevils taking on the distance individually, and even full-scale professional athletes.
A swimmer, cyclist, and runner, optionally also a trainer – such roles were designated to particular members of corporate teams entering into competition, which should include at least one female member. The contestants were to cover in succession: 750 m swimming in the pool, 20 km riding a bike mounted on a stationary exercise platform, and 5 km running on an electric treadmill. The contestants prepared for the competition either individually, or throughout Torus-arranged exclusive training sessions, which in turn ramped up the sport rivalry level.
The interest shown in the event was colossal. Over six editions the event competitors, several hundred in total, covered collectively almost 8,000 km, cheered on by thousands of fans. Each event was accompanied by a charitable goal, for which we allocated receipts from the entry fees. Therefore, we ate up the kilometres for people in need of our support. The competition was always capped off with an integration party during which we handed out the winners’ awards.
WE CERTIFY OUR BUILDINGS
We originate from Gdańsk, and we have specialised in the construction of modern office buildings for years. It is not easy to rapidly achieve spectacular outcomes in the decarbonization area, meaning the reduction of the CO2 emission into atmosphere. It is a long-term process, but we do not remain indifferent in the face of the problem.
For many years, in a consistent manner, we have certified our buildings within a restrictive American system – LEED. It means, among other things, the fulfilment of strict environmental standards, alongside high energetic and water efficiency, which altogether leads to lower maintenance costs. The application of high-quality construction materials, with low content of volatile organic compounds, together with high functionality, provides the user with comfort and safety. It is no surprise that our buildings have some of the best national scores during the certification process in the point rating. It is because we had erected buildings in compliance with this philosophy before the certification became popular in Poland. Moreover, we educate and initiate various campaigns, e.g. we advocate for the use of bikes while commuting to work, or campaign for the elimination of plastic bottles from the office routines.
Our buildings are also awarded with the ‘Obiekt bez barier’ (‘Facility without barriers’) certificate, which means they are fully adopted to the needs of people with disabilities and limited mobility , e.g. for parents of young children with baby carriages.
CYCLING TO WORK
For many years we have been supporting and promoting the use of alternative means of transportation other than cars. However, a proper and well-thought-through development of infrastructure always proves key. The infrastructure dedicated to cyclists, and encouraging the use of the bike as a means of transportation while commuting to work, remains a significant element when designing each and every investment of ours.
For example, in the Alchemia complex we have established more than 1,400 bike parking spots (several hundred more than for the cars), with each building providing dedicated changing rooms with shower facilities. Each year in springtime we have set up a free-of-charge bicycle maintenance service at the investment site, combined with an educational campaign, and the overall promotion of a healthy lifestyle (Rowerowelove).
Creating a comprehensive, thoughtful, and friendly infrastructure yielded tangible fruit. According to the surveys carried out by PBS Sp. z o.o. opinion pollster, as many as 40% of Alchemia employees in Gdańsk commute to work by SKM (commuter train), with those coming to work by bike trailing the car users only by two percent: 21% to 23%. It is a unique score against the background of other Gdańsk-based office centres, whose employees prefer four wheels in the vast majority. The extraordinary results of Alchemia in this regard are also backed up by a superb location of our offices.
TUNNEL SHORTENED THE WAY AND IMPROVED SAFETY
Back in May 2014 we solemnly launched a new underground passageway that leads from the SKM Przymorze-Uniwersytet train station onto the Alchemia site, heading to the University of Gdańsk. The investment, within which we have also set up an elevator, having the elderly, disabled, and parents with small kids in mind, enhanced the comfort and safety of all people that travel in this vicinity. We have covered the entire cost of the investment – 2.8 million PLN – from our own company financial resources.
It soon turned out that the new passageway became a real facility in the day-to-day commuting to college, work, sport classes, or in the casual moving around the area. It is interesting to point out that the idea of the construction of an additional tunnel in this spot was born many years before, at the outset of the overall Alchemia investment. Preparatory works, due to the necessity to consult many entities and arrange a great deal of formal and technical aspects, took several years, however, much less than the construction itself. At the end of May 2013 a trilateral agreement was signed (Torus, SKM, PLK) to launch the investment. Nearly two months later the construction works commenced which were completed at the end of April 2014.
EMPLOYEES WITH CHILDREN CARE – WE RESPONDED TO THE NEED
In April 2019 we provided the tenant employees with emergency children care assistance for the duration of the teachers’ strike. It was our spontaneous response to an urgent need when we put ourselves in the position of parents, many of whom work in our company as well.
We organized the children care on the III floor of Argon Alchemia office building, within typical working hours. On top of designating space and contracting caretakers, we also arranged kid games and fun plays under the supervision of leisure time animators. The respective information spread rapidly among the Alchemia employees, which was manifested in the immediate response of dozens of parents who worked in numerous companies located in Alchemia.
TORUS BEEZZZ WITH HIVES ON ALCHEMIA ROOFTOPS
There is no significant population of bees in cities, so it is easier to obtain pollen and honey, and moreover, there is little spraying of honey plants, which facilitates the entire process. Thus, the city beekeeping took a foothold in Polish metropolis environments for a good reason. When we were setting off with the first hives on the Alchemia rooftops, becoming one of the Tricity pioneers in this respect, Warsaw alone already boasted several hundred of hives.
The trend, as many others, came over from the west. In comparison with other European capital cities, we still have to play catch-up, as in Berlin or London beehives come in thousands. Bee yards are seen in exceptional sites of Paris, including the ones set up on the rooftop of the Paris Opera House, or in the vestry of the Notre Dame cathedral.
Initially, in each of the three hives we set up on the Argon rooftop, there were 100,000 bees, with as many as 500,000 occupying the hives in the peak moment. The project quickly caught the attention of our tenants who launched their own bee ‘houses’ right next to ours. The bees that found home in the hives represented a unique species of Buckfast. They were not aggressive, yet strong and diligent, which resulted in the abundant crop of delicious honey – up to 70kg annually! It was later distributed in small jars among our friends and partners. In the future, on the rooftops of our consecutive investments, we plan on establishing new bee yards.
A decade ago, back in 2012, in cooperation with the Regional Blood Donation and Therapy Centre in Gdańsk, we initiated a blood donation campaign among employees of our office buildings. We called it an RH operation. A special-purpose red bus pulls up at our buildings on a regular basis, with those willing to donate blood never coming in short supply. The action ‘travels’ with us across our investments; we began in Arkońska Business Park, later initiated the campaign at Alchemia, upon completing the subsequent stages, having more construction sites ahead: Gdańsk Wrzeszcz, Młode Miasto, and most likely Gdynia as well. Over the last ten years we have collected more than three hundred litres of blood, which helped a great many people in need.