Real estate and infrastructure technology investor Taronga Ventures held an industry event recently to conclude its ESG Impact innovation program for 2022. Supported by leading global real estate corporates with a focus on ESG and sustainability, including APG, CapitaLand, CBRE, Dexus, International Towers, ISPT, Ivanhoé Cambridge, PGIM Real Estate, and Vicinity Centres, the program is a strategic initiative that aims to deliver industry-level benefits.
Through close collaboration with Taronga Ventures and its program partners, ESG Impact’s 12 participating technology companies have implemented innovative solutions that enhance ESG outcomes.
The real estate sector faces significant ESG challenges, with the need to decarbonise the built environment forecast to require funding of more than US$5 trillion over the next ten years. Despite continuing efforts by global investors and real estate developers to reduce their carbon footprint, the sector is still responsible for 37 per cent of the world’s total carbon emissions.
From a social perspective, with people spending more than 85 per cent of their time in a building, it is important for real asset owners and operators to realise the impact of the built environment on the health and wellness of people and communities. To transform the future of real estate, it is crucial to bring together institutional capital, forward-thinking corporations, and emerging technologies.
“One thing I’m really proud of is about the collaboration that happens between the companies that operate in this space. We can only get further if we go together, so thank you for coming today, and thanks to all the providers for sharing their amazing insights, so we can get this done, and done well. The second thing is data. The veracity and accountability that we’re approaching the business case around these activities is really putting it on boardroom agendas, so that’s what gets me out of bed every day,” said Alicia Maynard, Group Executive, Transformation at ISPT at Taronga Ventures’ ESG Impact Showcase event last Thursday.
One low-carbon technology implemented through ESG Impact was Ampd Energy, an advanced battery system that replaces diesel generators on construction sites to provide cleaner, quieter and data-rich power. The company was a finalist for the distinguished Earthshot Prize with its proprietary Enertainer product, which eliminates 150 tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent air pollution of 200 cars. It is 30 times quieter than a fossil fuel generator, and improves safety as the risk of diesel fires from generators is eliminated and workers are no longer exposed to air pollutants.
Government agency Transport for NSW is aiming to deliver 2,000 parking spaces at the Edmondson Park Station precinct. The construction of this parking asset includes 2 large tower cranes, and 2 concrete booms and site sheds for the construction offices with little grid connected power available at the site. The main contractor had 5 diesel generators on site which were producing 270 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. Ampd Energy was able to replace these 5 generators with its Enertainer solution, to reduce CO2 emissions by 89 per cent (equivalent to 240 tons of CO2 annually) and save the project AU$145,000.
Another environmentally focused project highlighted during the event was Alvéole, an urban beekeeping company that tracks and boosts biodiversity and engages tenants. In a project with Ivanhoé Cambridge, Alvéole installed 37 hives at 18 retail and office properties in both Canada and the United States, including the sustainability leading Édifice Jacques-Parizeau, Ivanhoé Cambridge’s headquarters in Montreal.
At Ivanhoé Cambridge’s residential co-investment in New York City, Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, Alvéole implemented hives on-site, as well as ‘hotels’ for wild-bees located in a pollinator garden. The integrated approach of installing hives in isolation, but also creating habitats and supporting wild-pollinators, is the type of broader approach Ivanhoé Cambridge is looking to implement in its investments The benefits associated with these types of wider initiatives extend to improving the wellbeing of its tenants, help to reduce the urban heat island and bring more nature in the city. This type of initiative is in line with Ivanhoé Cambridge’s ESG objectives and desire to contribute to the protection of biodiversity.
While the hives have historically been an engagement tool and a way to give Ivanhoé Cambridge’s tenants and employees close contact with nature in the workplace, the company sees the potential to take the partnership with Alvéole in new directions that will introduce positive environmental impacts to their portfolio.
With a strong focus on ‘Social’ within ESG, Vicinity Centres sought to make a greater social impact and improve customer experience. Specifically, to support those with vision impairments or a disabilities who find it challenging to visit their centres with the existing wayfinding solutions they had in place.
BindiMaps, an accessible wayfinding solution for people with disabilities brought inclusivity to Vicinity Centres by installing its solution at the Oakleigh Central shopping centre in Victoria, Australia. BindiMaps enables people of all abilities to navigate the centre using intuitive audio and text or map directions, providing step-by-step instructions to their destination. Instead of having to find an information kiosk or remembering their route, shoppers can now easily find stores or amenities at the click of a few buttons in the BindiMaps app.
BindiMaps was easily integrated with Vicinity Centres’ existing beacon systems, and now provides data about how users, including people with disabilities, navigate and move around the centre. Vicinity Centres late last year signed a broader rollout contract with BindiMaps to install at more of their shopping centres.
With a core focus on implementing best-in-class innovations in assets and projects, the first cycle of the ESG Impact program is complete, with applications open for its 2023 program.
The 12 companies in the ESG Impact innovation program for 2022:
1) Alvéole – Urban beehives to track and boost biodiversity and engage occupants
2) Ampd Energy – Industrial scale batteries to replace diesel generators on construction sites
3) Bardee – Organic waste management solution using insects to create agricultural products
4) BindiMaps – Accessible wayfinding solution for people with disabilities
5) CarbonCure - CO₂ usage technology to reduce the carbon intensity of concrete production
6) Globechain – Construction and fitout waste marketplace connecting corporates with NGOs
7) Measurabl – ESG reporting software for commercial real estate
8) One Concern – Software platform to model climate risks and improve asset resilience
9) SiteHive – Real-time environmental monitoring and management on construction sites
10) Social Value Portal – Social value measurement, management and reporting software platform
11) uHoo - Indoor air quality monitoring and management with easy to deploy sensors
12) WiredScore – Global standard for digital connectivity and smart buildings
“I would like to get the collaborators at the table. We inherit buildings to manage, and they haven’t been designed optimally, so let’s get the designers at the table, let’s get the property managers at the table, and let’s get the investors at the table as well. If we all talk about mutual benefits, I think ESG performance will be a lot better,” said Su-Fern Tan, Head of ESG, Pacific, CBRE.
“For us, it’s about ROI and our investors. If you want our investors to write our cheques for our products, you need to demonstrate what’s the ROI. I’m not just talking about dollars and cents, I’m talking about what are the environmental benefits that you can actually tell, show and prove to an investors that you’re actually able to deliver. That’s the most useful tool that we can have to help us get these products on board.” said Andrew Neary, Executive Director, PGIM Real Estate.
“For the tech companies in the room, be bold, and be brave. There is absolutely the need for the work that is being done here and there is very strong appetite to implement and learn and try, so please keep going,” said Alicia Maynard, Group Executive, Transformation, ISPT.
“Working closely with our corporate partners and the 12 companies in the ESG Impact program last year was a highlight of my year. It is encouraging to see large institutional real asset groups taking up the challenge to pilot and de-risk new solutions to tackle many pressing and urgent ESG issues immediately. I truly believe technology will be the step change we are looking to make in achieving our shared global sustainability goals, and these innovative founders are taking our industry there,” said Rebecca Jinks, ESG & Sustainability Director, Taronga Ventures
About Taronga Ventures
Taronga Ventures is one of the world’s leading technology investors focused on driving innovation across real asset sectors such as real estate and infrastructure. The group consists of the RealTech Ventures funds, the RealTechX innovation programs, and Taronga Advisory, which provides institutional real asset owners and operator strategic advice on critical areas of sustainability and technology.
Taronga Ventures’ funds are backed by leading global institutional investors and major real asset owners and operators including APG, Ivanhoé Cambridge, CBRE Inc., PGIM Real Estate, Mitsubishi Corporation, Nomura Real Estate, Patrizia AG, Dexus, Grosvenor Estate, amongst others. Taronga Ventures covers markets across Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe and the Middle East. Learn more about Taronga Ventures.