• Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Crow Holdings Bets Warehouse Roofs Can Be a Big Source of Solar Power


Jun 8, 2023
Solar panels are increasingly powering businesses, with MGM Resorts able to get about 35% of its energy use in Las Vegas from this solar panel field in Nevada. Now Crow Holdings has a new solar property business. (Getty Images)


Crow Holdings, one of the largest U.S. industrial developers, is launching a business line to tap the unused potential of warehouse roofs by adding solar panels as the nation transitions to cleaner energy.

The new initiative, called Crow Holdings Renewables, plans to develop solar energy and battery storage projects of all sizes atop industrial building rooftops and development sites throughout the United States.

Crow Holdings Renewables is pursuing project sites in California, New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois — states where energy prices are high, contributing to a bigger potential return on investment, company executives told CoStar News. Different U.S. states also have different energy subsidies, a critical part of the economic equation.

Dallas-based Crow Holdings is the private family office of the Trammell Crow family, with more than $16 billion in assets under management spanning more than 850 U.S. properties. The company said the initiative is being co-led by Laurence Pelosi, a senior managing director at Crow Holdings, and Tim Marvich, who recently joined the firm as a managing director.

Crow Holdings Renewables plans to leverage Crow Holdings’ existing extensive industrial real estate portfolio but also will offer its services to other landlords looking to monetize the rooftops of industrial buildings by adding solar capabilities.

“We expect this business line to grow significantly” with projections for Crow Holdings Renewables to double its solar projects year over year for the foreseeable future, Pelosi told CoStar News.

Crow Holdings isn’t the only firm looking to capitalize on clean energy opportunities. CBRE, the world’s largest brokerage firm, has been working with Altus Power to help commercial real estate owners and occupiers find ways to meet their energy needs while reducing carbon footprints. The two companies teamed up to develop a proprietary application that leverages artificial intelligence to identify promising rooftops. And retailers such as Walmart, Target and Ikea have committed to rooftop solar panels on top of their stores.

Initially, Crow Holdings Renewables is focused on solar and battery storage projects averaging 5 megawatts and mid-sized, utility-scale projects averaging 25 megawatts. By next year, Crow Holdings Renewables expects to be underway on 50 megawatts of solar projects in a combination of industrial rooftops and ground-up development projects, Pelosi said.

Industrial rooftops would likely need to be 500,000 square feet or larger on relatively new industrial buildings, Pelosi said. For ground-up projects, the business line is seeking to acquire about 30 acres in proximity to major population centers, he said.

Laurence Pelosi is a senior managing director at Crow Holdings. He is overseeing the Crow Holdings Renewables business that was launched on Tuesday. (Crow Holdings)

“The biggest opportunity in the United States is industrial rooftops,” Pelosi told CoStar News. “Under 5% of commercial real estate had solar at the end of last year and the potential to build on industrial and commercial rooftops is exponential.”

Even though state officials and local municipalities would like more solar panels on rooftops, aging infrastructure in major U.S. cities unable to get would-be solar energy to the grid is one of the biggest hurdles in the industry, Pelosi said. The recently signed Inflation Reduction Act makes room for the nation to upgrade its grid infrastructure in the coming years and helps solar become a bigger piece of the U.S. energy industry, he added.

Pelosi has been with Crow Holdings since 2019, helping the firm with its investment strategies tied to energy and infrastructure. He has more than two decades in the real estate business with a resume that includes roles at Morgan Stanley Real Estate and Lennar, as well as experience in partnerships with Goldman Sachs and other private equity funds.

Marvich has 17 years of experience in renewable energy development. He brings leadership experience from Apex Clean Energy and NextEra Energy Resources to the real estate firm. During his career, Marvich was also a utility-scale wind and solar developer with EDP Renewables in the western United States.

Pelosi and Marvich, who are both based in Dallas, are leading Crow Holdings Renewables along with Riean Norman, who is a vice president focused on pre-development activities in California and the Northeast. Most recently, Norman worked at Dimension Renewable Energy, where he had a particular concentration in deploying solar atop industrial rooftops.

“With strong footholds in some of the fastest-growing solar markets in the United States — and with highly capable leaders — we plan to meaningfully contribute to the development of renewable energy solutions for communities and businesses across the country,” Crow Holdings CEO Michael Levy said in a statement.

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