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Timely: This Fund Will Build Resi Blocks That Are Energy Positive And Eliminate Energy Bills


A new fund has been launched to build residential towers that produce more energy than they consume and eliminate energy bills for residents. 

With global energy prices skyrocketing and the world needing to drastically cut carbon emissions to combat the climate emergency, the new venture addresses two key concerns for society.

The new Catella Elithis Energy Positive Fund said it will be the world’s first "energy positive" residential impact fund, which will invest a planned €500M in Elithis Towers, designed to produce more energy than the building and tenants consume.

The fund will be managed by Berlin-based Catella Residential Investment Management. It will start off building apartments for rent in cities across France, but it has plans to move into the UK. Because the towers eliminate energy costs, they are inherently more affordable than similar schemes where residents still pay these costs, Catella said. 

The fund will see Catella team up with Elithis Group, a French building engineering consultancy and real estate development company, which has pioneered a strategy to build low carbon buildings using engineering and construction technology — but also human psychology. 

The Elithis Tower design enhances solar power generation by covering the roof and part of the building facades with photovoltaic panels and combining this with bioclimatic principles. That involves things like optimising the building’s surface area to limit heat losses in winter, capturing the sun’s path during all seasons to boost solar energy gains, and managing internal temperatures through automatic sunscreens and natural ventilation systems to cut costs and reduce environmental impact through energy-efficient operations. 

But it is the human element that really takes the Elithis model to new levels of environmental sustainability, Catella said. Residents can control the climate of their homes through a proptech smart app that nudges them to act if temperatures are moving out of the desired range, or artificial light is not needed in the room, among other features.

Behavioural psychology then kicks in, as tenants can minimise or eliminate their energy bills and earn an annual bonus, paid through the sale of the building’s surplus electricity to the national grid, by managing the energy efficiency of their homes.

This overcomes the fundamental problem in residential real estate, which is the single largest source of carbon emissions globally in operation and construction, Catella said: that most people don’t treat their homes as businesses, so energy efficiency isn’t maximised.

The world’s first energy-positive residential tower at scale, developed by Elithis in Strasbourg, France, in 2018, has achieved an 8% annual surplus of energy production over consumption, Catella said. That performance would save an average French household €1,600 per year in energy costs. If extrapolated to every rental property in France, Catella estimated the total savings would be equivalent to the entire French education budget, at 6% of France’s GDP, or roughly €145B in 2021.

Catella said that it planned to expand the fund to build more than 100 towers with a total cost of €2B across Europe.