27/02/2007 - 22:00

Developers put energy into green push

27/02/2007 - 22:00

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The adoption of green building principles is gathering momentum in Perth’s commercial development circles, with environmental consultants in high demand and owners of existing office buildings under pressure to take-on green practices.

Developers put energy into green push

The adoption of green building principles is gathering momentum in Perth’s commercial development circles, with environmental consultants in high demand and owners of existing office buildings under pressure to take-on green practices.

Despite the record low office vacancy in the Perth CBD, government and institutional office tenants are believed to be leading the charge on the green front, seeking green upgrades on existing office space and high energy efficiency ratings on new stock.

The state government was one of the first tenants to lean towards a green building code, imposing a mandatory Australian Building Greenhouse Rating of 4.5-stars out of a maximum five stars on all new government office buildings greater than 1,000 square metres from July 2006.

Existing tenancies must also achieve a rating of four stars and incorporate water-saving fixtures.

The Green Building Council of Australia is incorporating the program into its own separate rating system.

The council is an independent body with its own suite of rating tools that evaluate eight environmental impact categories and innovation, against national and international best practice.

Points are awarded within each category for initiatives that demonstrate the project’s potential to reduce its negative environmental impact. A six-star rating is the maximum achievable.

These rating systems are two among a myriad of complementary and competing environmental rating schemes in the market at present, all with similar intentions.

In WA, the biggest commercial building to commit to an ABGR 4.5-star rating to date is the $450 million Raine Square redevelopment for BankWest, spearheaded by developers Luke Saraceni and Hossean Pourzand.

Pivot and ISPT’s Century City project at 100 St Georges Terrace was the first in WA to enter a pre-construction commitment to a 4.5-star rating in May 2006. 

Due for completion in November 2009, the 42,500sq m Raine Square tower will be assessed against a number of criteria 12 months into its life, before an energy efficiency rating is officially determined.

The developers are also in the process of applying for a separate GBCA rating.

Mr Saraceni said the project would eventually be assessed against more than 60 criteria, ranging from the method of demolishment to the amount of recycled materials used in the new building, efficiency of air-conditioning and proximity to public transport.

He estimated the cost of meeting the 4.5-star ABGR standard would be between $3 million and $5 million on top of construction costs, but believed it was not a significant impost when considering the end result was the securing of a major tenant.

“It’s an efficient building design already, so adding another layer of complexity does not become a significant event. I think if the tenants believe they’ll save some money, then the building is more attractive to them,” Mr Saraceni said.

Most prospective tenants the group had been dealing with were now seeking green-star ratings, with existing tenants also leading the call on existing offices, he said.

The project’s consulting engineer, Lincolne Scott’s state director Robert Mulcahy, said tenants were starting to demand energy ratings as a matter of course and would pay for it.

“As the market becomes more educated, and there’s more recognition of the benefits, the green factor will become a high priority,” he said. 

CB Richard Ellis senior director office services Andrew Denny said developers seeking to gain transport credits in exchange for higher ratings were now facing the challenge of meeting the car parking requirements of tenants.

 “Tenants like to be green and want quality features, but they also want parking. It’s not like they can’t have both but I think it would be these practical considerations that would override some of the ratings,” he said.

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