The ground-breaking new fund will contribute capital to create a pipeline of Canadian communities that prioritize environmental, social and market financial returns.
TORONTO, July 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ – Windmill Developments (“Windmill”) and Epic Investment Services (“Epic”) announce the closing of the first round of funding for the One Planet Living Real Estate Fund (“The Fund”) with equity commitments from institutional and private investors. The Fund is the first private Canadian, mixed-use opportunistic real estate development impact fund designed to accelerate the implementation of impact investing principles in real estate while generating market returns for investors. The Fund will contribute capital solely to a pipeline of One Planet Living projects in Canada, with an initial focus in Ontario.
With over $30 billion in real estate development in 20 countries over the last 16 years, One Planet Living communities around the world have proven that real estate can deliver impact, enabling people to live happy, healthy lives within the planet’s capacity all while delivering compelling returns for investors. The One Planet Living framework pre-dates recent investor trends towards prioritizing investments with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors.
By launching The Fund, Windmill and Epic aim to popularize the adoption of the One Planet Living framework across Canada and North America. With a deep and growing pipeline in place, The Fund is intended to bridge the gap between financial returns and demonstratable impact.
“The closing of round one for The Fund is an exciting step towards shifting the real estate paradigm by developing lands that deliver community benefit and have a positive impact on people and the planet,” says Jonathan Westeinde, CEO, Windmill Developments. “The Fund was conceived as a way to raise responsible capital specifically for communities that will restore and regenerate human and environmental systems. As an industry, we know we must change how we build. Aligning capital with impact targets at the onset of a development is a powerful tool to spark momentum towards this goal.”
All developments that will be supported by The Fund will be grounded in the One Planet Living framework. The framework measures 10 impact areas that accounts for everything from integrated community engagement to sustainable water and materials; zero carbon strategies to urban food production; affordability to impact on local economies. All outcomes are third party verified by Bioregional, the UK non-profit that developed and governs the One Planet Living framework, to ensure accountability and transparency of delivered outcomes. To date, only two communities in Canada have ever received official One Planet Living endorsement, Zibi in Ottawa and Baker District in Guelph. Windmill Developments and sister organization Urban Equation developed the action plans for both master-planned developments and hope to fast track further adoption of the framework across Canada via The Fund.
Developed 18 years ago, One Planet Living acknowledges that issues like sustainability, equity, climate change and food security are all interrelated and must be tackled together in the search for solutions. The framework helped inform the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) for land transformation.
“We are excited to partner with Windmill and to raise the profile of responsible real estate investing within Canada,” says Laetitia Pacaud, COO, CFO, Epic Investment Services. “The real estate industry has a responsibility to our communities and the environment and this fund is a shift towards creating a better built environment. In today’s climate, the way we live and what may have been important even two years ago versus now has changed and the real estate industry needs to recognize that now is the time to act. The Fund offers a comprehensive approach to maximize investor returns while simultaneously advancing broader social and environmental objectives.”
The Fund will focus on three real estate sectors to optimize for impact: partnerships with impact-oriented, urban land owners, including municipalities, non-profits, churches and CSR-focused owners; providing deep building retrofits; and large-scale, mixed-use communities that target carbon neutral and socially progressive outcomes, including affordable housing. Windmill and Epic will be targeting new and retrofit projects that prioritize each of the framework’s 10 principles. The first slate of projects includes 6–10 development and renewal sites in Ottawa and the GTA, with intentions of pursuing developments nation-wide in future funds.
Since its inception, Windmill has focused solely on developing projects that deliver high impact, including the first LEED Platinum communities and mixed-use buildings in Canada, along with the first One Planet Living communities in Canada. Epic has a longstanding reputation for unlocking value creation opportunities, from deal sourcing to disposition, while integrating ESG principles across operations and investment strategies. The resulting partnership is an execution and management team with an unprecedented track record for applying the principles and practices of impact investing to real estate.
A second capital raise is expected to occur in late 2021. For more information, visit oplrealestatefund.com.
ABOUT WINDMILL DEVELOPMENTS
Windmill Development Group (“Windmill”) is a visionary company dedicated to transforming conventional development practices by using a triple bottom line approach to projects, ensuring strong ecological, social and financial returns. Everything Windmill does is conceived, designed and constructed to protect and enhance the local community and its ecosystems. They harness innovations in land use, water, air, energy, design, waste management and smart building technologies to create healthy, high-performance green buildings and communities.
ABOUT EPIC INVESTMENT SERVICES
Epic Investment Services, which includes its wholly owned subsidiary MDC Realty Advisors in the United States, is a fully integrated North American real estate platform. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, and operating from offices in Canada and the United States, Epic has over $17.5 billion in assets under management. Epic’s portfolio comprises over 30 million square feet of office, retail, industrial and multi-family residential properties.
SOURCE Epic Investment Services