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Green boost for office buildings

G-Online

Policy

Office building

Credit: Clipart

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The energy efficiency of commercial office buildings is the focus of a new national scheme designed to boost the green credentials of work spaces.

From the second half of 2010, building owners will be required to provide up-to-date energy efficiency information when selling or leasing office space covering more than 2,000 square metres.

"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 and [be able to] make informed decisions when they buy or rent office space," said Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, announcing the scheme in a statement yesterday.

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

"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."

Building owners will need to disclose a valid 'Building Energy Efficiency Certificate', which will include a building star rating under the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS), an assessment of the lighting energy efficiency as well as suggestions on how tenants could improve the building's energy efficiency. Owners who don't comply will risk a fine or prosecution.

Garrett encouraged building owners to begin preparing for the new measure, and said that seminars would be held across the country in the coming months to ensure businesses are made aware of their obligations under the scheme. He did not, however, address the scale of costs for building owners associated with the plan.

The new disclosure policy for offices comes shortly after the Government announced new energy efficiency programs for households, including the extension of the star ratings program for appliances, the energy rating of televisions and the final stages of phasing out inefficient lighting (read more on this here).