The Federal Government has chosen to expand the ambit of its Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) program which, from July next year, will capture all buildings with upwards from 1,000 sqm of office space. The new threshold for mandatory disclosure of a building’s energy efficiency was unveiled ahead of the federal election by Minister Josh Frydenberg and will replace the present threshold of 2,000 sqm.
What is the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) program?
Commercial buildings account for 10% of Australia’s energy consumption, and improving a building’s energy-efficiency is seen by government as a quick and cost-effective way to slash greenhouse gas emissions. The change follows a review of the program and, according to the Minister, will bring an additional 1,000 office buildings across Australia within its purview, many of them B and C grade premises.
The program, introduced by the Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act 2010, helps owners and tenants to benchmark the performance of office premises and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cutting energy-costs.
What is Involved?
It requires owners to disclose the energy-efficiency of a building at time of sale, lease or sublease – providing parties that are keen to reduce their carbon footprints with information to identify energy-efficient spaces for purchase or rent. It 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 Turnbull Government, unveiling the change, said it is expected to deliver more than $50 million in energy-savings and around 3.5 million tonnes of emission-reductions over five years.
In a further change to the program, the tenancy lighting assessment requirements have been amended, a measure designed to slash red tape and ease regulatory burden. From September 1 this year, owners will need to undertake an assessment every five years rather than each year, which has been the case since inception of the program.
Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC)
Under the CBD program, assessment of a building is followed by the issuing of a Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC). Buildings are rated from zero to six stars under NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System), which can cover energy, water, waste and the indoor environment. At present, the energy-efficiency of Australia’s office buildings averages 2.5 stars.
The validity of a BEEC is re-assessed at 12-month intervals.
It is understood the review considered extending BEEC validity to five years, but it appears the change has not been mandated. Also, there are exemptions from the BEEC requirement. 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 sale of shares do not require a BEEC.
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