Emlyn Keane

AMP Capital’s elevation of property chief Adam Tindall to the top job as managing director has precipitated a whole reverse domino effect within the investment behemoth’s ranks, much of it good for sustainability, it’s claimed.

Tindall, currently director and chief investment officer property, was appointed to head up the $18 billion property investment business only in March. That’s before being headhunted by his own company during an international search for a replacement for current managing director Stephen Dunne, who is stepping down. Tindall’s background is many years with Macquarie Group and Lend Lease.

Moving up are Louise Mason, currently managing director of office and industrial, becoming acting chief operating officer; Emlyn Keane, head of property management and sustainability, stepping into Mason’s role on an “acting” basis; and Louise Monger, previously head of asset operations, who takes over Keane’s former role.

Into the company, and out of Jones Lang LaSalle, steps well-regarded sustainability specialist Chris Nunn as the new head of sustainability, in a nice coup for the company, with an offer Nunn says was simply “too good to refuse” after just one year at JLL and no shortage of “interesting projects”.

Working with Nunn will be environmental performance manager Darren Teoh, while Dominic Ambriano also succumbs to a good offer, taking his expertise as national sustainability manager with AMP Capital into a new role as industrial asset manager.

So how will the sustainability strategy shape up under the new line-up?

Stronger than ever, says Emlyn Keane, who has featured strongly in connection to our coverage of the Better Buildings Partnership and our Happiness Guide to greener tenancy practices.

“The strategy remains consistent with the approach from Day 1. We’re really committed to sustainability at the asset level, at the precinct and community level, and we’ve certainly spent the last couple of years moving from an environmental focus to an [environment, social and governance] focus.”

This has been particularly strong in the shopping centre division where the company has been doing “fabulous things” to improve its standing in the community, he says.

There’s been a raft of good results that have cross-pollinated different asset classes, with growing focus on supply chains, health and safety, influencing tenant behaviour and best practice tenancy.

Keane says he’s noticed a pronounced shift from investors towards an ESG and risk management focus.

Investors are increasingly switched on to climate and ESG risks and starting to be “more selective of the assets they will touch”, especially where they impact on health, the quality of products and air quality, Keane says.

“We’re having great conversations with superannuation investors. They’re looking to us to demonstrate leadership.”

They want to identify risk not just in current asset; they don’t want surprises in two or three year’s time, perhaps with business that will decline.

“There is a genuine shift in the appreciation of risk as more than moral decision making,” Keane says, referring to energy, for instance.

“While the price curve on conventional energy might have stabilised somewhat, solar keeps reducing,” he notes.

“We’re working with councils and others to see how we can take great advantage in precinct renewables.”

The big opportunities right now are in shopping centres, he says.

Especially if they can “complement solar with battery technology, which is really starting to become commercially viable and add value to the distribution of the load and the curtailment of the load at peak times”.

That project involves working with CSIRO to understand battery technology better, working with the Better Buildings Partnership to see if there is a way to share solar energy among individual buildings that typically have small roof spaces, and then the sector with the “most appealing configuration of all” – the industrial portfolio.

The issue here, of course, is in trying to distribute the big quantities of solar power these vast roofs are capable of producing.

For this solution Keane is hoping for some good results from the hefty paper on how to reform the energy sharing sector recently produced in collaboration between the City of Sydney, the Property Council of Australia and the Total Environment Centre.