21/01/2009 - 22:00

Mandatory reporting concern

21/01/2009 - 22:00

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VENDORS and lessors of commercial buildings could be required by law to disclose the energy efficiency of their buildings under a proposed federal government scheme.

Mandatory reporting concern

VENDORS and lessors of commercial buildings could be required by law to disclose the energy efficiency of their buildings under a proposed federal government scheme.

The national regulatory proposal, released in late December, will require mandatory disclosure of the energy efficiency of commercial office buildings with a net lettable area of more than 2,000 square metres.

Disclosure would be required at the point of sale, lease or sub-lease so that potential buyers or tenants can compare the energy efficiency of buildings.

The move is designed to encourage developers to implement technologies that improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings, or for owners of existing buildings to look at energy efficiency improvements or retrofitting.

Commercial buildings account for at least 10 per cent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon dioxide emissions from the commercial sector have risen 87 per cent in the past 15 years, reaching 60 million tonnes in 2006

Property Council of WA executive director Joe Lenzo said mandatory reporting would place further administrative and cost burdens onto building owners, many of which already disclosed energy efficiency through the Green Star rating system.

"We don't have a problem with buildings running efficiently and ameliorating emission and disclosure, but one of the main uses centres around the administrative burdens and costs compared to the benefits," he said.

"Our concerns are around the actual cost of compliance. Most people are already moving down that path of reducing emissions."

The national branch of the Property Council has forwarded its submissions to the government, while the state branch is currently finalising its submission.

The scheme will initially cover only class five buildings, which are office buildings used for professional or commercial purposes but excluding buildings in retail, car park, storage, production and public building classifications.

New buildings, tenancies of less than 12 months and other situations where it is not feasible to prepare a valid energy efficiency assessment of a particular building or tenancy, will be exempted from the scheme.

Minter Ellison special counsel Cheryl Edwards said the government would need to clarify the details of the scheme, including the reporting mechanisms, monitoring and auditing. She added that the industry was already active in disclosing energy efficiency in a voluntary capacity, with some building owners recognising the competitive advantages of doing so.

"All the discussion up until now has been on voluntary reporting. There are good commercial reasons to make buildings energy efficient, and there are federal government grants available to help [the industry] do so, or to retrofit," Ms Edwards said.

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