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Upcoming Carbon Reductions at Commercial Buildings

The Property Council is excited about the initiative to extend Australia’s “light-touch” energy efficiency program for commercial buildings.

Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy Jenny McAllister announced a deadline for expanding the program to enhance energy and emissions data capture on June 14.

The commercial building sector accounts for approximately a quarter of electricity consumption and 10 percent of total emissions in Australia. Broadening its scope would result in cost savings for businesses and significant reductions in emissions, she informed a business audience.

Mandatory disclosure of energy usage could potentially encompass hotels, shopping centers, data centers, hospitals, and other non-residential facilities.

The proposed modifications could also pave the way for the implementation of minimum energy performance standards for poorly-performing buildings that do not improve under a mandatory disclosure system.

Switching to electrified buildings instead of the traditional approach could save $49 billion (US$32.4 billion) on energy bills by 2050 and prevent nearly 200 million tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere, according to industry studies.

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The Property Council and Green Building Council of Australia have been advocating for an expansion of the commercial building disclosure (CBD) program and the national environmental performance rating system for buildings, known as NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System).

The CBD program mandates the provision of NABERS energy efficiency data, in most cases, when selling or leasing office space exceeding 1000 square meters.

Mike Zorbas, the CEO of the Property Council, stated that including more commercial office space and various types of commercial buildings in the program was a logical step that would result in emissions and energy cost savings.

“It presents an opportunity to reconsider the program’s role in promoting electrification, the procurement of renewable energy, and a focus on the embodied carbon of buildings,” he remarked.

“While the CBD program imposes a light-touch compliance burden on building owners, it offers significant benefits such as improved tenant retention and increased value of highly-rated buildings.”

Senator McAllister mentioned that the pioneering program has a proven track record of assisting commercial buildings in reducing emissions and energy consumption.

Since 2010, there has been a 35 percent decrease in base building energy usage per square meter for office buildings covered by the program.

“Enhancing energy performance can lower emissions, enhance tenant comfort, and lead to savings on energy expenses,” she added.

Senator McAllister also stated that the federal government is seeking feedback by mid-September on the inclusion of different building types and more ownership structures like trusts, partnerships, and individuals.

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