Uniting Financial Services, the investment arm of the Uniting Church, has committed $25 million to the High Income Sustainable Office Trust, a project designed to refurbish low performance buildings in outer metropolitan areas.
The fund, which is managed by EG Funds Management, is targeting a $400 million portfolio, with $125 million already invested by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. UFS becomes the first institutional investor to support HISOT since it was created over a year ago.
The goal is to purchase up to 12 decentralised office buildings with low NABERS Energy ratings and bring the ratings up to at least 4.5 stars.
CEFC corporate and project finance director Rory Lonergan said supporting HISOT aligned with the CEFC’s broader strategy to progress the commercial property sector towards carbon neutral buildings.
“For our cities to be competitive and dynamic business centres in the future, it is imperative that we act now to boost the energy performance of buildings so they are equipped to handle the demands of a clean energy economy,” Mr Lonergan said.
“High cost CBD office spaces, infrastructure constraints and urban regeneration are all major factors contributing to increased demand for higher performing commercial office space in outer metropolitan areas. The decentralisation of government departments is also driving up demand.”
UFS executive director treasury and investments Warren Bird said the environmental and social benefits of revitalising decentralised city office buildings aligned with the church’s ethical investment policies.
“The Uniting Church Synod of NSW and the ACT is one of the earliest adopters of ethical investment principles,” he said. “We are deeply passionate about investment opportunities that have positive environmental and social benefits and meet our rigorous Ethical/ESG investment due diligence process.”
EG executive director Roger Parker said there were also financial benefits to be had.
“Improvements in the NABERS rating are proven to have a positive impact on attracting blue-chip tenants to formerly low income generating office buildings, as well as revitalising office space for future use,” he said.