How Australia’s Banks Are Driving Global Push to Retrofit Buildings

Macquarie is becoming a major investor in low carbon construction solutions.

Wed 29 Nov 23


Australia’s largest financial institutions are major players in global real estate projects, with the country’s biggest banks investing substantial sums of money to drive projects using mass timber systems across Europe. 

And when it comes to investment, Macquarie, considered Australia’s fifth-biggest bank, is leading the pack.

Last year, the bank invested an undisclosed sum to buy a minority stake in real estate developer EDGE, which is currently constructing more than €5 billion in new projects, including landmark developments across the Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States, and Germany.

Significantly, the developer uses mass timber construction to drive net-zero outcomes. Its projects are “widely recognised (and awarded) for their sustainable features and innovations – from timber construction, renewable energy and underground heat storage, to the cutting-edge smart sensor technology that allows our buildings to optimise for wellbeing and sustainability.”

In recent years Macquarie has been allegedly at the forefront of ESG investment in real estate assets. Footage courtesy of @macquarie.

This includes its latest development, London Bridge, which EDGE claims will create “London’s most sustainable office tower,” meeting BREEAM Outstanding and WELL Platinum certifications and featuring mass timber construction systems throughout the tower.

Wood Central understands that Macquarie has shown significant interest in retrofitting, with the bank backing new technology “monitoring the energy efficiency, occupancy, and wellbeing outcomes of their real estate investments.” 

As reported by Wood Central last month, retrofitting has emerged as a major challenge in the building and construction industry, with the world now turning its attention to reducing embodied and operational carbon with existing building stock. Yesterday, Wood Central reported that the UAE has identified that it must retrofit at least 2000 office towers over the next 20 years alone.

Dubai is one the most heavily urbanised city centres on earth, with the UAE now looking to decarbonisation and retrofitting in order to meet it's ambitious net-zero commitments.
Dubai is one the most heavily urbanised city centres on earth, with the UAE now looking to decarbonisation and retrofitting in order to meet it’s ambitious net-zero commitments.

According to Macquarie, “this technology will be increasingly important as property owners seek to retrofit older buildings to meet evolving environmental standards and tenant expectations.”

Dana Gibson, the Co-Head of Real Estate in Europe at Macquarie Asset Management, said the partnership is part of a push by the bank to capitalise on the rapidly growing demand for sustainable, wellbeing-focused office spaces from tenants, investors, governments and financiers. 

“We are delighted to invest in EDGE, where we look forward to partnering with their specialist management team to expand the business in existing and new markets, as well as draw on our investment management experience to support the build-out of EDGE’s office developments.”

The acquisition is part of Macquarie Asset Management’s global opportunistic real estate strategy, which is focused on investing in real estate designed for tomorrow’s world, according to Jelte Bakker, Head of Opportunistic Real Estate at Macquarie Asset Management.

“Globally, we have seen COVID-19 accelerate changing trends in the office sector, with growing demand for sustainable office spaces that are suitable for new economy tenants and their workforces.”

At the same time, Macquarie is investing in global solutions to decarbonise buildings it has also backed a new standard to make financial investment ‘nature positive.’

Financial institutions are now using drones and satelittes to monitor deforestation and biodiversity loss. Photo Credit Rainforest Reserves Australia 1320x879.jpg fotor 20231110134939 scaled
In September, Wood Central revealed that financial institutions are now using drones and satellites to monitor deforestation and biodiversity loss.

As reported by Wood Central, Macquarie is part of a global pact, which forms part of the Taskforce on Natural Related Financial Disclosure (TFND), which is pushing for financial institutions to assess biodiversity impacts and dependencies as part of the Location, Evaluate, Assess and Prepare approach.

Known as the ‘LEAP framework,’ Wood Central can reveal that Australian banks use satellite mapping technology to determine the boundaries of properties they are funding and to see the impact of land clearing or water use on land.

Earlier this month, Wood Central revealed that Bendigo Bank – Australia’s 7th largest merchant bank and one of the signatories of the TFND, rejected the applications for businesses involved in the “sale and marketing of Australian native forest products.”

Australian banks are at the forefront of the push to use geospace mapping to make decisions on finance. Footage courtesy of London Stock Exchange Group.

It reported that the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, which trades as the Bendigo Bank, “will not provide finance to projects or large scale electricity generation” in several sectors, including native forest logging and coal, coal seam gas, crude oil and natural gas. 

Wood Central understands that the Bendigo Bank is the first major institution to introduce a total ban on native forest logging as part of its “Climate Change Policy”, a move which has significant implications for the viability of hardwood logging and processing.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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