The challenge


Clean drinking water is essential to humans and all other life forms. However, some observers estimate that by 2025 more than half the world’s population will be facing water-based vulnerability. Population growth and urbanisation are among the trends that continue to adversely affect freshwater availability.

This significant upward pressure on global water reserves is likely to become more severe in the context of global climate change. This could lead to an increase in water shortages (such as the drought we have experienced over the last year in São Paulo) leading to higher costs, constraints on supply and emergency controls on the way in which water is used, with some locations where Sonae Sierra operates being more directly and acutely affected than others, for example areas of Southern Europe and Brazil.

As Sonae Sierra shopping centres rely on some 1.159 million m3 per year of water to deliver day-to-day services such cleaning, WC facilities and irrigation, we need to ensure we have adequate supplies for all our shopping centres by conserving fresh water resources and preventing their pollution.

Our strategy


We are aware of the risks from possible water shortages and we have established stringent management procedures to ensure that our water use is as efficient as possible. By improving the water efficiency of our portfolio and integrating systems for rainwater harvesting and water reuse on our sites, we can reduce our exposure to water scarcity risks and minimise our water footprint, which prepares us for potential future legislation and avoids costs.

Water efficient designs are promoted through the Company's Safety, Health and Environment Development Standards (SHEDS). Within our operational shopping centres, we install water efficient appliances such as waterless urinals, low flush toilets and sensor taps in all refurbishments and set procedures to restrict water use wherever appropriate. Our water metering strategy allows us to optimise shopping centres’ water consumption by enabling us to identify unusually high usage patterns and to define new management measures for tighter control of water usage.

We are also committed to incorporating solutions that recycle greywater and reduce pollution to local water sources. Our shopping centres may have up to five different wastewater collection systems, which enable different types of wastewater to be reused and/or treated, according to their characteristics. Wastewater discharges are analysed regularly by externally certified laboratories in order to control the contamination levels of our water discharges to municipal sewers, streams, etc.
Please click here to see more information on what Sonae Sierra is doing about Water.

Our long-term objectives



  • Attain a level of water consumption at or below 3 litres per visit (aggregated across all Sonae Sierra owned shopping centres), by 2020.

  • Ensure that all discharges to local water courses comply with Sierra wastewater quality standards and pollutant limits, by 2020.


Our performance, up until 31 December 2012







To see our historical performance and further performance indicators related to Water click here.

For examples of our Water initiatives in action, see Case Studies..

Note: At the "Sustainability" all information is comprehensive and refer to the Sierra and its shopping centers in the various countries in which it operates, including Brazil.