Improving the energy efficiency of Australia’s office buildings

The Australian Government will introduce new laws from mid 2010 making it mandatory for office building owners to disclose their energy efficiency information.

Local Governments with large offices will be affected by the laws and are encouraged to prepare early to ensure they comply.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett announced the new national scheme in November.

He said building owners will be required to provide up to date energy efficiency information when they sell or lease office space covering more than 2,000 square metres.

“This scheme is part of an ambitious plan to make Australia’s homes and businesses more energy efficient, by improving base standards and star ratings for appliances, equipment and buildings, and by phasing out inefficient technologies,” the Minister said.

“This means all parties – the building owner and potential buyers or tenants – will have access to consistent, credible and meaningful information about a building’s energy efficiency, enabling them to make informed decisions when they buy or rent office space.

“Greener offices are not only more comfortable to work in, they can boost productivity, bring down sick leave, support green building industry jobs and have the potential to deliver savings of 20 to 40 per cent on energy bills.

“Energy efficiency is a fast, cheap way of making inroads into Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. This scheme will provide a strong incentive in the market for building owners to improve their properties by investing in cost effective energy efficient upgrades.”

Under the disclosure scheme, building owners will need to disclose a valid Building Energy Efficiency Certificate, which will include a National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) energy base building star rating.

It will also include an assessment of the lighting energy efficiency of tenancies and some suggestions on how to improve the building’s energy efficiency.

Owners who don’t comply will risk a fine or prosecution.

As the first NABERS energy base building star rating can take time, Minister Garrett said anyone planning on selling or leasing office space should start now to prepare for the introduction of this measure.

To ensure that businesses are aware of the requirements of the new scheme, the Department of Environment, Heritage and the Arts will be cohosting seminars around Australia with the Property Council of Australia in the coming months.

For further information about the Australian Government’s initiatives to improve the efficiency of buildings, visit www.environment.gov.au/buildings