A sustainable shopping mall powered by its own solar electricity

Image: AXA
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The Brandbachcenter in Dietlikon, which is owned by the AXA investment foundation, is one of the region's largest shopping malls. Since last September, half of the electricity it uses has been supplied by solar panels on the roof.

With a surface area of some 8,100 square meters, the Brandbachcenter in Dietlikon is among the largest shopping malls in the town's sprawling industrial zone. Offering everything from electronics to groceries, shoes, clothing, and sports equipment, it's a haven for shopaholics. One thing many don't know, however, is that the Brandbachcenter became one of the biggest commercial buildings in Switzerland to generate its own energy in September 2022.

3,413 square meters of solar panels on the roof

Almost 1,750 solar panels are fitted to the roof, supplying the mall with around 675,000 kWh of climate-neutral electricity – that's half its total consumption. This is the largest photovoltaic (PV) installation the AXA investment foundation has built to date. "A shopping mall mostly consumes energy during the day. Since photovoltaics also generate most of their output during the day, the mall can use a high percentage of the solar power itself," says Valeria Bianco, Sustainability Manager at AXA Investment Managers.

"The photovoltaic installation on the roof of the Brandbachcenter is the largest we've built to date, and it brings us a step closer to our achieving our sustainability goals."

Valeria Bianco, Sustainability Manager at AXA Investment Managers

Massive expansion in PV

The huge PV installation on the Brandbachcenter is only part of AXA's sustainability efforts. The company plans to make an active contribution to Switzerland's sustainable energy supply by rolling solar panels out to more than 200 of the properties in its portfolio. "The PV installation on the roof of the Brandbachcenter is the largest we've built to date, and it brings us a step closer to achieving our sustainability goals," says Valeria. 

Swiss roofs still have untapped potential

There are still a number of properties in the portfolio managed by AXA Investment Managers that have the potential to be upgraded with PV installations. According to Valeria, "The roofs of residential and office buildings offer the greatest potential for PV upgrades." These are most commonly carried out using a method known as "merger for own consumption", in which the property owner pays for the PV installation and can then sell the solar electricity it produces to the participating tenants, who benefit from low prices. "Locally produced solar power is a win-win situation for tenants and landlords alike – not just from a sustainability point of view, but also thanks to the reduced electricity costs," adds Valeria. 

Image: AXA

Around 1,750 solar panels have been fitted to the roof of the Brandbachcenter.

AXA Investment Managers' sustainability promise

In its sustainability report, AXA IM announced its plan to reduce the CO2 emissions of the real estate portfolio it manages to 7.9 kg per square meter by 2030 and 2.9 kg per square meter by 2040. At the same time, it will gradually increase the proportion of renewables in the energy mix, with 71% of the energy reference area to be heated by district heating, heat pumps, and wood- or biogas-powered boilers by 2030 and as much as 92% by 2040. 

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