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CBRE has joined forces with proptech firm Negawatt Utility to provide energy-saving tools and consultancy services for asset owners in Hong Kong.

Buildings account for 90% of electricity consumption and over 60% of carbon emissions in Hong Kong and commercial buildings contribute more than 75% of total emissions. 

“We are seeing a growing sustainability demand from our landlords,” said Thomas Lam, head of property management at CBRE Hong Kong. “We are excited about our collaboration with Negawatt. Through this partnership, we are proactively realising our vision of building a more sustainable built environment and a greener future in Hong Kong.”

Under the partnership, landlords and occupiers can access Negawatt's web-based platform which uses the Internet of Things, data analytics and AI, to help landlords understand and reduce energy usage.

JLL has announced the acquisition of Envio Systems, a Berlin-based technology company whose platform aims to deliver more efficient and sustainable building operations.

Envio, acquired for an undisclosed sum, provides hardware and software access and analyse data from sensors and applications to enable “predictive decision-making”across building operations.

"We welcome the Envio team into JLL and are excited about our collective vision to enable our clients to manage their real estate more dynamically," said Neil Murray, CEO of work dynamics, JLL. 

"Combining Envio's best-in-class systems with JLL's expertise, technology and global platform – along with our shared values around innovation and sustainability – will enable us to solve our clients' problems better, faster, and more cost-effectively than anyone else in the industry." 

Infinium Logistics claims it is creating a new sustainability-focused asset class, straddling infrastructure and real estate, with its ‘FleetHubs’, where logistics companies can park and recharge their electric fleets.

The company is responding to the challenge of decarbonising transport. In 2020, the global transport industry was responsible for around a fifth of all CO2 emissions and both nations and the logistics industry are committed to zero emissions by 2040.

Infinium is a relatively new venture, launched in 2019 by executive chairman James Lee and chief executive Paul McCormack: entrepreneurs with experience in the logistics and energy sectors. Last year, Phil Bayliss joined from Legal & General, where, as European chief executive, he had spent 14 years in real estate and private equity investing, .

Infinium is headquartered in the UK and has a presence in Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Poland, and North America. It is focused on supporting the electrification of logistics, particularly in the middle and last mile. Logistics companies such as Amazon and DHL are electrifying their fleet in advance of expected bans on sales of vehicles powered by fossil fuels. Amazon’s first electric van hit the road in 2020 and it has committed to buying hundreds of thousands more.

In the UK, six million fleet vehicles do the bulk of the miles covered by the nation’s vehicles. Most cars are unused 90% of the time, while delivery vans are on the go most of the day. The situation is similar in the other global markets being targeted.

Delivery van fleets need parking areas when they are unused at night and electric vehicles need this time for recharging as well. It means electric fleets are charging while the nation sleeps, using the cheapest electricity.

“FleetHubs offer a purpose-built parking and charging solutionfor electric van fleets. We are looking at sites which can house 100 to 800 vans and charge them with renewable grid energy, supported by PV panels and batteries. They will also have charging forecourts for the public,” says Bayliss.

“The future of transportation is zero emissions. We are repurposing existing real estate to enable zero carbon, technology-enabled, modern logistics facilities that allow e-commerce operators to reach customers faster in a cleaner and greener, more efficient way.”

In May, Infinium launched its first property fund, which raised £200 million ($245 million) in initial equity commitments, giving £500 million of firepower with gearing. The capital will be used to develop a network of FleetHubs across Europe.

The fund has already secured one site in Swindon, UK, and has six more under offer. It is targeting brownfield sites across Europe of over 1.5 acres and close to logistics hubs. Bayliss says sites will typically cost £5 million to £20 million, while development and infrastructure will add £5 million to £10 million in costs. A large part of this will be to upgrade the power supply and ensure access to renewable energy. FleetHubs will use a lot of electricity compared with many land uses, but far less than data centres, for example.

New real estate, technology and sustainability-focused private equity group GreenPoint Partners has invested in the fund, its first real estate investment, and in the Infinium platform.

Refining the model

The FleetHubs model is being refined on the go, as Infinium takes on new sites and customers. As well as new- build sites, it could refit existing car parking to serve logistics.

In the future, the concept may be adapted for heavy goods vehicles, but at present there is no real consensus about the ideal sustainable fuel for HGVs: it may be electric, compressed natural gas or hydrogen fuel cells. There is also potential to work with logistics developers to help them use their yard space and offer their customers a parking and charging solution.

Notwithstanding talk of a new asset class, Bayliss is confident the FleetHub model will be attractive to real estate investors. Certain aspects of the sector are operationally complex, such as securing of renewable power to the sites, however, similar complexities exist in the data centre market, in which real estate investors are keen to participate.

“The bones of it, though, is a lease,” says Bayliss. “So it isn’t too sophisticated for real estate investors. Once the concept is stabilised and there is more depth in the market, I believe it will be attractive.”

Initially at least, Infinium is the only company ploughing this particular furrow. Bayliss says: “Our investor base is global pension funds and sovereign wealth capital and they tell me there is no one else doing this globally. Actually, I get no comfort in being the trailblazer, what we want is a healthy market with sophisticated competition.”

LBO France has recruited Stanislas de Kertanguy as head of ESG. 

The investment manager said his appointment was is in line with the acceleration of its focus on ESG and climate investing.

A key part of de Kertanguy’s new role would be the Newstone Impact Fund, which will invest in real estate and construction start-ups focusing on energy and environmental transition, inclusiveness and urbanisation, and sustainable infrastructure.

He will also be responsible for supporting the implementation of the firm’s ESG, climate and impact roadmaps.

De Kertanguy has nearly 13 years of experience in ESG, climate and sustainable finance, including 11 years at PwC France in its sustainable development department. 

Deepki has acquired UK-based rival Fabriq for an undisclosed sum. 

The French real estate ESG platform said Frabriq’s software, which also focuses on the energy efficiency of real estate assets, had complementary features to Deepki’s platform.

Vincent Bryant, CEO and co-founder of Deepki said: “Fabriq’s existing technology is complementary to Deepki Ready and, combined with our advisory services, this makes it an exciting partner as we build the business globally. There is a huge opportunity for us to help the commercial real estate sector meet its net-zero target.”

Deepki’s software as a service platform helps real estate investors, owners and managers improve the ESG performance of their real estate assets.

The firm raised €150 million ($150 million) in new funding in March and pledged to use the cash to recruit and expand its business in the US. 

BBVA has invested in Fifth Wall's Climate Fund, which will in turn invest in companies seeking decarbonisation solutions which address the entire lifecycle of buildings.

The Spanish bank said its investment would "help the bank learn firsthand about the most disruptive technologies to fight global warming, while also gaining exposure to the business opportunity that investing in climate tech presents". The amount of capital invested was not disclosed.

Earlier this year, the bank invested $20 million in Lowercarbon Capital, a venture capital fund targeting decarbonisation solutions, particularly in the field of carbon capture.

Proptech venture capitalist Fifth Wall has $3 billion of assets under management and boasts investments from real estate companies such as British Land, CBRE and Kimco Realty Corporation, as well as other investors. The firm was founded in 2016 by former real estate investment bankers Brad Greiwe and Brendan Wallace.

Sustainable real estate venture capital firm Undivided Ventures is seeking startups to take part in virtual workshops with leading real estate and tech professionals. 

Undivided will select five early-stage companies, which will benefit from virtual workshops with its in-house experts Tim Foreman and Amie Shuttleworth and mentoring from real estate industry leaders including Meredith Balenske, global head of ESG at GLP, Andrew Moore, head of real estate, APAC, at Schroders Capital and Stephanie Lo, executive director Shui On Land. 

The workshops will be suitable for companies developing solutions for: decarbonisation, climate change adaptation, creating social value, the circular economy and nature positivity.

Applications for the workshops close on 7th August and the programme runs from September 1st to October 20th this year. More details are available here

Patrizia has announced a first close for its €100 million ($105 million) venture capital fund targeting sustainable real estate technology.

The German real estate investment manager said the fund “will target investments in technology companies that enable a more sustainable built environment and will focus on late Seed to Series B technology companies globally, with a strong focus on Europe”.  

So far, two investments have been made: GBuilder and Liftango. The first is a Finnish platform for customer management in the residential development sector and the second provides software to shared transport systems, for example public transport or carpooling.  

Wolfgang Egger, CEO and founder of Patrizia, said: “We are delighted to see the successful first close of our new VC fund product which will play an important role in real asset’s journey to net-zero. Reducing our carbon footprint in construction and real estate is the biggest challenge of our time, so funding the companies who are at the cutting edge of sustainable innovation is absolutely essential. 

“Besides real estate and infrastructure, venture capital as a product offers our clients the potential for attractive investment returns and strategic advantages, particularly for investors with real estate portfolios.”

ULI Asia Pacific and Taronga Ventures have launched a competition for real estate sustainability solutions. 

ULI and the sustainability and proptech-focused investment manager have teamed up for the Innovation in Sustainable Real Estate Challenge, which aims to reward innovation projects which have delivered superior sustainability outcomes in real estate. 

Real estate and proptech companies are invited to submit case studies on a particular solution which was implemented to create sustainable environmental impact such as reduction of carbon footprint, energy optimisation and efficiencies or waste management solutions.

Winners will be announced at the ULI Asia Pacific Summit on August 30th.

 Registrations close on July 12th. For more information, contact: asiapacific@uli.org

Asian proptech platform Ecolibrium has launched its business in the UK and relocated its headquarters to London. 

Ecolibrium, which describes itself as a “machine learning-led decarbonisation platform”, has raised $5 million in pre-Series A funding to support its expansion. 

The company also hired Yash Kapila (pictured above, l, with CEO Chintan Soni) as head of commercial real estate. Kapila spent nearly 14 years at JLL, which he left at the end of 2021 and has worked for a number of real estate organisations. 

Ecolibrium was founded in 2008 by brothers Chintan and Harit Soni and its technology, which uses IoT generated data and AI to improve building performance, is used by 150 companies over 150 million sq ft of real estate.

CEO Chintan Soni said: “Our goal is to partner with companies and coach them to work smarter, make critical decisions more quickly and consume less. And, by doing this at scale, Ecolibrium will make a significant impact on the carbon footprint of commercial and industrial assets, globally.”