Solar powered "Melbourne Quarter" precinct wins CEFC backing

Melbourne Skypark

A major new solar powered commercial precinct in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD has won the backing of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, as part of a portfolio of sustainable development projects with property group Lendlease.
The CEFC said last week it would commit up to $100 million in equity to Australian Prime Property Fund Commercial (APPF Commercial) – a leading sustainable commercial property fund managed by Lendlease.
The CEFC said the investment would help ensure developments within the portfolio followed best practice energy efficiency programs – among them, the landmark hybrid commercial and residential development, the Melbourne Quarter (above).
The $4.5 billion project will incorporate what Lendlease believes will be among the largest PV installations in office design precincts in Melbourne’s CBD, as well as energy efficient design, a captured storm-water irrigation system, and a car share program.
Lendlease said the project would use all of its available roof space to install high efficiency PV panels on all of its buildings, and expects the capacity of two of its commercial towers will be more than 350kW. The third commercial building, which is still in planning, would boost this capacity, the company said.
Lendlease says it is also investigating the feasibility of including electric vehicle charging stations in the build.
The commercial part of the development – it is expected to accommodate around 13,000 workers, once finished – will be built to a 6 Star Green rating, while the residential part, which will house 3,000, will aim for a 5 Green Star rating, the company says.
The investment by the CEFC is one of a string of property-focused plays by the green bank to be rolled out over the past year – although so far, mostly focused on residential development.
Just last month, it committed $90 million in debt finance to the plans of housing developer, Mirvac, which is building more than 300 family homes, each with built-in solar and battery storage.
And in August last year, the CEFC committed $32 million in finance to a 428-bed student accommodation project in Adelaide, as part of an effort to set a new benchmark in energy efficiency building.
CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the CEFC investment in APPF Commercial would help set a new benchmark for the investment fund, which was now aiming for a net zero carbon property portfolio target by 2025 – well ahead of the industry standard.
The investment also expects to deliver the abatement of more than 40,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over the expected lifetime of the assets in the portfolio.
“Buildings account for nearly a quarter of Australia’s carbon emissions,” said CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth in a statement on Thursday.
“Lendlease and other industry leaders recognise the need to move towards net zero carbon buildings and we’re working together to identify ways in which that can be achieved as early as possible,” he said.
“A key focus of this investment is its ability to demonstrate, through the Melbourne Quarter development, how sustainability and design initiatives integrated across an entire precinct can
transform the way we work and live, with zero carbon outcomes.
“This approach delivers emissions savings over and above what could be achieved in a standalone building, by networking and sharing technologies across the buildings and facilities within the
development precinct,” Learmonth said.
“This investment with Lendlease is another strong example of how clean energy can be used across the built environment to deliver long term economic and environmental benefits,” said CEFC property lead Chris Wade.
It provides a model for other precinct-scale developments Australia-wide.
Josh McHutchison, managing director at Lendlease Investment Management said the CEFC’s investment in APPFC formed part of the fund’s most recent equity raise.
“We look forward to working with the team at CEFC to implement innovative solutions to achieve our sustainability aspirations and deliver superior outcomes for our tenant community,” he said.
The first stage of the Melbourne Quarter precinct is on track to be completed in 2018.

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