24/05/2005 - 22:00

Green tinge to government tenants

24/05/2005 - 22:00

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The State Government is undoubtedly leading the charge when it comes to sustainability, insisting that any commercial building it is considering tenanting have at least a three and a half green star rating

Green tinge to government tenants

The State Government is undoubtedly leading the charge when it comes to sustainability, insisting that any commercial building it is considering tenanting have at least a three and a half green star rating, and hosting an expo for government agencies specifically focused on energy saving.

Speaking at a Property Council breakfast last week, Minister for Housing and Works Fran Logan made clear that a significant amount of government office space would be expiring in 2007, and welcomed invitations from potential lessors, but warned that they needed to prove that they held at least a three and a half star rating.

“The Government is facing 60,000 square meters of expiry in 2007, and we are in a position to commence negotiations for those tenancies immediately – however security and a minimum greenhouse rating are top priorities,” Mr Logan said.

He acknowledged that the cost of upgrading existing buildings was significant, but said the government was committed to the principles of sustainability and would not compromise.

Proving they are serious about sustainability, the government is hosting the first Energy Smart Expo on May 31 at the Perth Convention Centre, a one day seminar and trade exhibition that will have representatives from more than 60 government agencies who represent an annual $77 million worth of energy consumption.

The Energy Smart Expo is part of the broader Energy Smart Government Program introduced by the Sustainable Energy Development Office (SEDO), which began in 2000 to reduce the government’s running costs and the environmental impact of its energy consumption.

SEDO manager of sustainable energy programs Andrew Fairs said the government was trying to utilise the Australian Greenhouse Building Rating (AGBR) and lead the market.

“As a big leaser of office space we are asking the market to measure and disclose their AGBR,” Mr Fairs said.

“We really want to drive the message to the property industry that this is very important.”

Mr Fairs said that several Perth buildings had already had an AGBR rating done, including Central Park (four and a half stars) and Newman House (four stars).

He added that tenants could obtain individual reports through the AGBR system, which measured the rate of performance within the building.

“We don’t want to go at a rate that the industry can’t absorb, but the government demands in relation to energy efficiency will only increase,” Mr Fairs said.

Over the past 12 months, SEDO has developed a website that lists products and services specifically for WA with the intention of saving energy, and already had more than 250 companies included, Mr Fairs said.

Building services consultants Lincolne Scott state manager Robert Mulcahy said that the Perth market was increasingly aware and concerned about issues of sustainability and efficiency, and that there were a series of relatively simple things owners and tenants could do to improve.

“It is difficult for building owners because they have to pay for the improvements, but the tenants get a lower cost as a result,” Mr Mulcahy said.

“Ultimately though, they have to make an effective investment, and history has shown a good return for those that have made their buildings sustainable and energy efficient in terms of capitalisation, tenant attraction and staff efficiency.

“The larger investment funds are looking at socially responsible investment, and buildings which comply may attract a higher purchase price or certain type of tenant.”

Jones Lang La Salle director of engineering facilities management Peter Costa said there was certainly a recognition the market was moving towards the initiatives adopted by the state government.

“Managers and owners recognise sustainability is here to stay, and it is generally well received by most,” Mr Costa said.

“There are long term beneficial outcomes from adopting these policies, and triple bottom lines are becoming more important all the time.

“The government has set firm guidelines that have us all moving in the right direction, and there are a lot of products out there now to  support the techniques which deliver better outcomes.”

He added that very little effort was needed to make a five per cent improvement on energy efficiency, and a good target was a 15 per cent improvement for tenants and owners.

“If you think about the amount of money businesses turn over and take savings on energy consumption and compare, for very little effort, a real improvement can be made on the bottom line,” Mr Costa said.

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