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Equity Residential, Greenworks Deals Represent Surge In Green Real Estate Finance

Two separate and recent deals represent a spike in sustainably oriented finance in the real estate sector: a large green bond issued by apartment giant Equity Residential and a similar-sized amount of funding for clean-energy real estate projects facilitated by Greenworks Lending.

Equity Residential's 855 Brannan, San Francisco

Equity has issued $400M in green bonds, which means that the company will allocate the net proceeds of about $396.7M to one or more eligible green projects. This is the first green bond issuance by an apartment REIT, according to Equity.

As an example of a project that it might use such proceeds on, Equity cited its recently developed 449-unit 855 Brannan community in San Francisco, which received LEED Home Platinum certification.

“We are very pleased with the demand for this issuance, especially from investors with an environmental focus,” Equity Residential President Mark Parrell said in a statement.

The 4.15% unsecured notes are due in 2028. Including costs associated with the offering, the all-in effective rate of the notes is about 3.85%.

For its part, Greenworks has received a $40M investment from CarVal Investors, which also committed to provide Greenworks with at least $250M in capital to support the generation and funding of large-balance commercial property-assessed clean energy, or C-PACE, assets. 

C-PACE is a financing structure in which building owners borrow money for energy efficiency or renewable energy projects and make repayments via an assessment on their property tax bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy

The financing arrangement remains with the property even if it trades hands, which encourages long-term investments in building performance.

"In the past 12 months, Greenworks Lending has seen demand for large-balance C-PACE financing increase significantly," Greenworks CEO Jessica Bailey said.

"The CarVal investment will help us take advantage of the interest in this part of the market while continuing to deliver our financing to as many commercial property owners as possible on a national scale," Bailey said.

The partnership with CarVal will significantly expand Greenworks' position in the C-PACE market by enabling the firm to offer financing for larger projects. 

For example, on securing its relationship with CarVal, Greenworks was able to offer a new 600-unit multifamily development in Dayton, Ohio, funding to support various energy-saving measures being designed into the project.