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Disclosure laws encourage energy efficiency

24/04/2011

A more efficient approach to energy consumption will allow hospitals to put more of their tightly contested budget into other priority areas.

Those selling or leasing out office space of 2000 square metres or more will have to account for its energy efficiency, following the passing of The Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Bill by the Australian Federal Government.

The laws are currently in a transition period. After November 2011, relevant building owners will need to obtain and disclose a full Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC), including: 

  • a NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) Energy star rating for the building;
  • an assessment of tenancy lighting in the area of the building that is being sold or leased; and
  • general energy efficiency guidance.

The NABERS rating must then be included in any advertisement for the sale, lease or sublease of the office space.

 

The Government says the new legislation will ensure that “credible and meaningful” energy efficiency information is given to prospective purchasers and lessees of large commercial office space.

 

Others, including the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), have welcomed the new laws.

 

“Implementing this scheme will provide a tangible benchmark for rating the energy efficiency of commercial buildings. Disclosing this rating provides everyone with access to the same consistent and meaningful information about a building’s performance, making it easier for companies to buy or rent more efficient office space.”

 

“Also, these measures create strong market-based incentives for owners to improve their properties with cost-effective energy efficient upgrades, increasing return on investment,” the GBCA says.

 

Good advice

To enjoy these benefits – and comply with the new laws – owners of older buildings need to ensure that they get advice from a qualified service provider with experienced engineering personnel, says Bruce Jarvis, Haden’s General Manager – Service. “A qualified provider will be able to complete a thorough evaluation of the existing system and give advice about how to upgrade it.”

 

Bruce explains that some systems may be nearing the end of their lifecycle and need to be replaced. This may involve significant expense, but if the systems are designed well they will reduce costs over the whole lifetime of the building. Other systems may need to be brought back to their originally commissioned state. This will cost less, but a replacement plan needs to be in place. Still others will just have to upgrade a portion of their equipment.

 

“We can design a solution to maximise the potential of the system and existing equipment. This may include fine-tuning to get the most out of the system, rather than replacing it wholesale,” says Bruce.

 

To give just a few examples, some buildings have aging control systems, ill-placed thermostats set at points that are too high or too low, or lights that do not switch off automatically. A lot can be achieved with a good control system that reflects occupancy levels and working or habitation hours.

 

“And because our sister company O’Donnell Griffin has the electrical capabilities, we can offer a complete solution,” he adds.

 

The benefits are manifold, says Bruce. “Reviewing – and improving – systems will allow owners to save money over the whole life of a building. It will also increase marketability. Other benefits include a more comfortable indoor environment which can lead to greater productivity.”

 

Building owners who improve the energy efficiency of their buildings may also be eligible for a one-off tax bonus under  ustralian laws that come into effect in July 2011. Details can be downloaded from: www.climatechange.gov.au/government/initiatives/tax breaks-for-green-buildings.aspx

In hospitals, a steady supply of power and water that continues 24 hours a day, 365 days a year is literally a matter of life and death. The intense level of round-the-clock care that must be provided to patients—as well as trends like increasing digitisation—mean that hospitals are notorious energy guzzlers.

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