Greenhouse efficiency star rating planned

A new voluntary star rating scheme to estimate the greenhouse emissions of buildings has been proposed for WA by the Office of Energy.

Building owners, managers or tenants will be able to have the greenhouse efficiency of their office buildings or tenancies rated on a scale of between one and five stars.

“The scheme can rate buildings, the tenancies or both,” Office of Energy manager built environment Denis Smedley said.

“A variety of factors can be taken into account including energy usage, hours of operation of a building, the number of people and computers in the building and the floor area.

Carbon dioxide emissions from buildings are set to almost double by 2010, according to the Sustainable Energy Development Authority of NSW which developed the new rating system.

“Measures used to achieve a higher rating offer benefits for the environment,” Mr Smedley said.

“Greenhouse emissions can be reduced through lower power use whilst maintaining or improving service levels, or by switching to energy sources that use less emissions.

Property Council (WA) executive director Joe Lenzo said that reducing energy use could generate substantial savings on owners’ power bills.

“We are pleased to be involved with a scheme that benefits both the environment and the bottom line,” Mr Lenzo said.

The rating scheme can be conducted on a self-assessment basis with the assistance of a simple software tool.

A CD containing a sample version is freely available through the Office of Energy.

An official rating will be available when the regulatory framework for the scheme is established in WA.

“We are currently working with the Sustainable Energy Development Authority and the WA Property Council to set up the scheme,” Mr Smedley said.

“This scheme has operated successfully in New South Wales. WA’s participation is part of a broader national program to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in commercial buildings.”

The program has identified measures that building owners can use to improve energy efficiency and these could be used to improve their star rating.

Lighting upgrades can significantly cut power use.

Regular maintenance ensures equipment such as air-conditioning is operating at optimal efficiency. Oversize fan systems are often used unnecessarily.

A switch to gas or green power can improve ratings. The rating system takes into account the source of the energy that is used.

Tenants can also participate in energy savings. Measures such as turning out the lights when not needed, using low power modes on office equipment and using energy efficient appliances can also contribute.

“Current best practice in the property industry means that three stars would be a good result but a five star rating is

achievable,” Mr Smedley said.

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