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HG News: Green Property Scene - November 2010

Welcome to Green Property Scene!

Welcome to the sixth issue of the Green Property Scene.

There have been some interesting and exciting developments in the world of sustainable buildings since our last issue.

Hot off the press: 5 star to 7 star! NABERS Energy extension proposal position paper released

Whether it's because of more efficient, more affordable technologies to reduce energy consumption or better property management practices, it seems that the 5 star NABERS Energy rating, once an ambitious target, is now comparatively easy to achieve. A reported five percent of buildings are achieving 5 star ratings.

To ensure the NABERS Energy tool remains innovative and relevant, the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water has proposed that the scale be extended up to 7 stars. The position paper (available online) looks at the following options:

  • Recalibrate the current 5 star rating so that 5 stars would be achieved by a building with zero emissions. The Department indicates that this is not the preferred option, as it would require a new rating curve, meaning that new NABERS ratings cannot be practically compared to existing or historical ratings.
  • Extend the rating scale to 6 stars in early 2011, with the possibility of extending to 7 stars if needed. Although the expansion of the rating scale has the downside of putting NABERS Energy outside the 5 star scale used in other NABERS rating tools, it allows for existing ratings to remain relevant, while allowing market leaders to still be recognised for excellence.
  • Extend the rating scale to 7 stars in early 2011. This would ensure that further changes to the scale are not required for quite some time, although having 7 star ratings may take the shine off those buildings that have achieved a 4.5 or 5 star rating under the current scale, which are still "market leader" ratings.

Members of the public can comment on the proposal by sending written submissions to NABERS (nabers.energy@environment.nsw.gov.au) by 5.00pm on 18 February 2011.

Mandatory commercial office building energy disclosure update

Disclosure of commercial office building energy use has been mandatory for a month now. Some affected property owners are still surprised to hear about the disclosure scheme and the onerous financial penalties for non-compliance with disclosure obligations. For everything you need to know about the scheme and NABERS, please see this article.

If you have a current NABERS rating but have not yet applied to the Department for the rating to be registered on the Building Energy Efficiency Register, it is important that you attend to this. Click here to access the appropriate form.

Remember, to comply with disclosure obligations under the Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act, the building energy efficiency certificate or NABERS Energy rating must be registered. The responsibility for registration rests with owners and tenants of relevant commercial office buildings, not the Department. For new NABERS Energy ratings, the application can be made at the time of applying by ticking the relevant box on the application form.

For owners or tenants wishing to apply for an exemption from disclosure obligations or the information gathering provisions, the prescribed application forms are now available on the CBD website. The application fee is $350 including GST.

Round 7 of the Green Building Fund: Shopping centres and hotels to benefit

There is some speculation that the next round of funding under the expanded Green Building Fund program will open very shortly, and will only remain open for a short period of time. In a move that differentiates this round from previous rounds, owners of shopping centres and hotels will be allowed to apply for funding to refurbish existing buildings to achieve better energy efficiency.

The formal guidelines, which set out the criteria that need to be met to qualify for the funding, are yet to be released.

AusIndustry states that the expanded program will be a transition to the Green Building Tax Break, which will commence on 1 July 2011. The new tax break will give owners of commercial buildings a bonus tax deduction if refurbishment results in substantially improved energy efficiency (from 2 stars or lower to 4 stars or higher). The deduction is for 50 percent of the cost of the eligible assets or capital works.