New UK fund to drive up energy efficiency

Nick Myall
11 Mar 2016

Lloyds Bank in the UK has launched a new green fund to help owners of commercial property improve energy efficiency as New York City Council also pass laws aimed at increasing sustainability

A new £1bn (€1.28bn, $1.43bn) fund launched by London-based Lloyds Bank will offer discounted loans to real estate companies to help reduce carbon emissions.

Lloyds claimed that over the lifetime of the fund it could help save as much as 110,000 tonnes of carbon, which is more than the output of 22,000 homes. Lloyds and Trucost, an environmental data expert, have worked together to set a benchmark test to assess the amount of carbon emissions a building is designed to reduce.

Property owners interested in cheaper loans from the fund have to undergo the test. The better they perform in the test, the better the rates they will be granted. The maximum discount on an interest rate is up to 20 basis points below Lloyds's agreed rate on new loans which are at least £10m.

Buildings are responsible for almost 40% of energy consumption and 36% of carbon emissions in the UK.

The bank said the move will motivate builders to improve the energy efficiency at its buildings. It also hoped that this will create demand from investors for green bonds and other sustainable fixed income products for the UK market.

John Feeney, global head of commercial real estate at Lloyds Bank, expects a typical loan issued by the fund could range between £50m and £100m. "Environmental issues have come up the agenda so quickly and what it comes back to is that more and more capital is coming from sovereign wealth funds, or pension funds, and they're under pressure from people who invest in those, or their citizens, to do more in an environmental sense," Feeney said.

While Lloyds's property lending portfolio including development loans is eligible for the discounts, Feeney said it would be more suited to companies seeking to refurbish building constructed in the 1980s. He added that the fund provides "an extra incentive — a club that clients want to join".

The launch of the new fund comes at a time when the green component has become a priority for major commercial property investors. Land Securities, one of the largest commercial property companies in the UK and a member of the FTSE 100, recently said that it was committed to buying only renewable energy for its buildings.

Caroline Hill, the company's head of sustainability, said: "Being able to demonstrate the reduced environmental impact of our buildings will help attract the right customers to our properties."

The news comes at the same time that New York City Council passed two laws that amend the city’s current LEED law, strengthening existing sustainability requirements and introducing new measures that will make NYC-owned buildings among the most efficient in the country. Most new city buildings and major retrofits will now need to achieve LEED Gold and cut energy use in half.

The city has established the first data-driven energy targets in the USA —a new type of metric that many experts think will be necessary to achieve 80% carbon reductions by 2050.

The impact of this legislation will extend far beyond the city’s vast municipal portfolio, which amounts to 5% of the city’s building stock. New York’s designers and builders will need to create a new generation of hyper-efficient buildings that will ultimately advance building practice in the city’s private sector as well, and have worldwide implications given the international reach of many NYC firms.

Nick Myall
News Editor

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