Commercials fear emissions

THE commercial building sector is currently responsible for 5 per cent of Australia’s total energy consumption and approximately 10 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

It is predicted the energy consumed by the sector will double by 2008.

This compares to a Kyoto Protocol target of 106 per cent and a projected rate for the whole economy of 130 per cent.

While the Kyoto Protocol has not yet been ratified, many businesses have already begun informal carbon trading.

Likewise, owners of commercial buildings will need to consider ways to minimise their level of exposure.

Under a carbon trading system, owners will be required to hold a credit or emission permit for every tonne of carbon dioxide produced by their building. A baseline allocation may be awarded based on standards for energy management.

Tradable credits will be awarded for scheduled activities resulting in a verifiable reduction or absorption of carbon.

A number of hedging strategies are possible. For instance, in New South Wales and Victoria, investing in tree planting operations provides rights to sequestered carbon.

Unused carbon credits may be sold to companies or on the Sydney Futures Exchange, which will commence forward sale of credits in mid-2000.

The Australian Building Energy Council, with the assistance of the Property Council of Australia, is in the process of developing a voluntary energy and greenhouse code, which will offer the most comprehensive solution for commercial buildings in the world.

l Joe Lenzo is executive director of the WA branch of the Property Council of Australia.

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