The Federal Government has launched a review of its Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) program.
The program was introduced by the Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act 2010, along with other measures to improve energy-efficiency in commercial buildings. It was developed by all Australian governments as part of the broader national strategy directed at energy-efficiency.
The commercial buildings sector is responsible for around 10% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. At present, the CBD program requires owners – at time of sale, lease or sublease – to disclose information about the energy-efficiency of office buildings with 2000 sqm or more of floorspace.
A Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC) is issued and its validity is re-assessed at 12-month intervals.
A review, undertaken by ACIL Allen Consulting,
The review found the CBD program has provided $44 million in benefits over the past four years by helping to lift energy-efficiency in Australia’s large office buildings. Changes under consideration in the review include lowering the threshold for mandatory disclosure of energy-efficiency information to embrace buildings with upwards of 1000 sqm of floorspace and extending the validity of a BEEC from one year to five years.
Any changes adopted are not expected to be introduced until July 2017.
Improving a building’s energy efficiency
This is seen by governments as a quick and cost-effective way to slash greenhouse gas emissions. Disclosure of energy-efficiency provides parties that are keen to reduce their carbon footprints with information to identify energy-efficient spaces for purchase or rent.
Disclosure also provides incentive for owners to undertake energy-efficient upgrades to give properties greater appeal to buyers and tenants, and to improve market value. The legislation obligates disclosure for most owners who are selling or leasing office space with a net lettable area of 2000 sqm or more and for most tenants that are subleasing such space.
However, there are exemptions
New buildings for which there is a certificate of occupancy less than two years old, strata-title buildings or buildings where ownership is transferred through the sale of shares do not require a BEEC.
The CBD Program requires a NABERS rating for the buildings it captures.
NABERS was developed as an energy-efficiency rating tool for office buildings and was launched as the Australian Building Greenhouse Rating in 1998. The system helps owners and tenants to benchmark the greenhouse performance of their office premises.
NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) measures environmental performance and is managed by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage on behalf of all Australian governments. The CBD Program integrates the NABERS Energy for Offices rating into the information to be disclosed to prospective buyers and tenants of commercial spaces impacted by disclosure requirements.
NABERS ratings can cover energy, water, waste and the indoor environment. NABERS Energy takes into account usage of electricity, gas and other fuels that relate to greenhouse gas emissions. NABERS provides a zero to six-star system, rising in half-star increments, to rate a building’s performance and utilises 12 months of energy data.
On average, an improvement of one NABERS Energy star equates to a fall in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 15%. The star rating takes account of the way energy is managed, the energy-efficiency of a building’s design and it enables comparison with the performance of other buildings.
At present, the energy-efficiency of Australia’s office buildings averages 2.5 stars, so there is plenty of room for improvement.
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