CBD offices need green upgrade

07/05/2009 - 00:00

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MORE than two-thirds of Perth's CBD office stock will be below the federal government's new increased energy efficiency requirements, expected to be introduced in two years.

CBD offices need green upgrade
HIGH STANDARDS: A number of commercial buildings will need to increase their energy efficiency standards. Photo: Jemma Howard

MORE than two-thirds of Perth's CBD office stock will be below the federal government's new increased energy efficiency requirements, expected to be introduced in two years.

The Council of Australian Governments last week agreed to significantly increase energy efficiency requirements for all classes of commercial buildings in the Building Code of Australia from 2010.

The requirements were part of a raft of measures aimed at improving energy efficiency standards across residential and commercial buildings in the lead up to the national emissions trading scheme in 2011.

From May 1 2010, the building codes will be incorporating more stringent energy efficient standards to cover all classes of commercial stock for new buildings and major renovations.

According to research by the Property Council of Australia (WA), about 1.1 million square metres, or 85 per cent, of Perth's office buildings are more than 10 years old, with 850,000sqm, or 66 per cent, more than 20 years old.

For suburban stock, between 60 per cent and 70 per cent is more than 15 years old.

Property Council of Australia WA executive director Joe Lenzo said upgrading to the new standards will require substantial expenditure by building owners.

The council had been liaising with federal, state and local governments to encourage incentive and funding programs for building upgrades similar to those in other states.

The Victorian, South Australian and Australian Capital Territory governments have all committed to multi-million funding programs to support green renovations.

"We've been talking to the City of Perth and the government about a green building tune-ups program where the state government and councils provide incentives to property owners required to bring buildings up to green star ratings," Mr Lenzo said.

"Industry recognises they have to do something about energy ratings of their buildings because tenants are starting to demand that."

Minter Ellison special counsel Cheryl Edwardes said the cost of compliance could be high in WA as the state had a higher proportion of older stock than other states.

"There will be pressure on companies to green their buildings and for those who don't there is likely to be a devaluation of those properties as purchasers and tenants in the marketplace look to the greener buildings," Ms Edwardes said.

"There will also be costs associated with greening of the buildings and including the cost of compliance with mandatory reporting. These costs will need to be reflected in forward budgets.

"Also, the question of contracts and leases in being able to pass on costs need to be considered."

A research report released last week by development consultants Davis Langdon showed that refurbishing and 'retro-greening' existing office buildings to meet new environmental standards would create direct employment for more than 10,000 people in construction each year nationally.

Mandatory reporting of the energy efficiency of commercial buildings will also be phased in May 2010 for commercial office buildings of 2,000 square metres or more.

There will be consideration of expanding mandatory disclosure to other building types including hotels, retail, schools and hospitals.

Energy consumption in buildings account for about 23 per cent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, split equally between commercial and residential buildings.

COAG also endorsed new requirements for residential buildings, including increasing energy efficiency requirements for new residential buildings to six stars by 2010, and the introduction of new efficiency requirements for hot-water systems and lighting.

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