24/04/2007 - 22:00

Hard yards done in green drive

24/04/2007 - 22:00

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The City of Perth may introduce incentives to encourage developers to meet Australian Building Greenhouse Rating and the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star principles.

The City of Perth may introduce incentives to encourage developers to meet Australian Building Greenhouse Rating and the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star principles.

  The city's director of planning and development, Peter Monks, said while council did not impose the ABGR and Green Star schemes as a condition of planning approval, there were several options under investigation.

“We’re considering a range of incentives that could be included in the policy, including plot ratio bonuses, application priority times for processing and a reduction in application fees, among other things,” he told WA Business News.

“Virtually all the major development proposals forthcoming in the last 12 months have committed to meeting AGBR and Green Star ratings, so the commercial development industry can be seen to be leading by example.’’

The city's development design guidelines already require applications to meet a number of environment and micro-climate design requirements, which is actively encouraged by the its design advisory committee, he said.

The ABGR and Green Star rating tools are often used together to help benchmark a building’s greenhouse emissions and assess its environmental impact through design, construction and end-use.

While participation in these schemes is voluntary, it has become almost impossible for developers to ignore when the biggest tenant in town, the state government, has imposed a mandatory minimum 3.5 ABGR-star rating on all new public office stock and a 4.5-star rating on fit-outs.

Local governments have jumped on the green wagon too, with some requiring a minimum ABGR rating before issuing development approval for commercial buildings.

 Lawyer and Minter Ellison partner Glen McLeod believes the ABGR ‘hard yards’ have been done and the scheme is ready to be taken to the next stage – making it mandatory across the board.

“There’s quite a possibility, now the basic structures are in place, that down the track it could become mandatory and there would be more endeavours by the regulatory authorities to make building owners and developers conform,” Mr McLeod said.

“The rate at which the circumstances of law are developing based on greenhouse issues is impressive. It’s my understanding that the building code has expanded several times over in size, as much as four-fold, due to a range of climate change measures.

“ABGR is one of a number of measures that require amendments to the code.”

Green Building Council executive director Suzie Gutheridge, who has been managing inquiry from Western Australia, said it was not necessary to make ABGR and Green Star mandatory.

“Voluntary ratings are already so well accepted and industry is doing it…why regulate a market that is already regulating itself?” she said.

The council, a not-for-profit group, has 300 member organisations nationwide and more than 160 projects registered for certification, 11 of which are from WA.

Ms Gutheridge said she had heard that tenants were already entering into contracts with landlords to ensure they delivered a five-star building.

Landlords were also signing contracts with tenants based on interior fit-outs, ensuring that only Green Star-rated fit-outs are carried out to keep the office in check with the building’s overall rating, she said.

Mr McLeod said if the schemes were made mandatory, legal disputes could emerge between building owners, developers and tenants.

“It’s clear to me that we’re in the early stages, but there could be significant changes to the law,” he said.

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