Policy Perspective - March 2019

Milestone for low energy buildings in Australia

In a welcome start to the year, COAG Energy Ministers recently announced support for stronger energy standards that will open the door to higher performing buildings, at lower cost.

The work program which received support from the Ministers- A Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings – proposes a pathway towards ‘zero energy and carbon ready buildings’ through increases to the energy efficiency provisions in the National Construction Code (NCC), as well as further considerations of options for existing buildings. The Trajectory aligns closely with findings from ASBEC and ClimateWorks Australia’s recent report Built to Perform, which recommends targets for subsequent updates to the NCC

The commitment to this work program is a significant step forward in establishing a national consensus on the importance of energy efficient buildings in Australia. It was strongly supported by the GBCA following months of advocating with ASBEC, for governments support of recommendations from Built to Perform.

The commitment to the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings coincides with the release of the final version of the NCC 2019, which includes significant improvements to the energy performance standards for non-residential buildings. The NCC 2019 will come into effect from 1 May 2019, and energy efficiency provisions will have a 1 year transition period, until 1 May 2020. The GBCA is working with the Australian Building Codes Board to develop guidance materials to support the adoption of the NCC 2019, including guidance on using Green Star – Design & As Built as a new verification method for performance requirements under NCC’s Section J.

Commercial Building Disclosure Program review underway

We are now a month into the review of the Federal Government’s Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) Program, the program which requires the mandatory disclosure of energy efficiency information when a commercial office space of 1000 sqm is sold or leased.

Announced in late 2018, the independent review will assess the program’s effectiveness and consider whether it should be expanded into other high energy building sectors such as shopping centres, hotels and data centres as well as office tenancies.

The GBCA believes there is no time to delay the further expansion of CBD Program to sectors which present opportunities for further efficiency. This was a key recommendation of the report Opportunity Knocks, which proposed five immediate actions for realising on energy efficiency and reliability improvements for Australia’s mid-tier building stock. A recent feasibility assessment by Energy Action shows that expanding the CBD program to all building energy users including tenants can provide substantial energy and cost benefits.

The Centre for International Economics is undertaking the review on behalf of the Department of the Environment and Energy and have released an issues paper to seek input on various issues. Comments are welcome by 4 March. GBCA is also a member of the Reference group established for the Review.

The issues paper can be accessed here.

GBCA welcomes NSW government sustainability measures

GBCA has welcomed a nation-leading commitment by the NSW Government to increasing the environmental sustainability of its property portfolio.

The recently updated Government Resource Efficiency Policy, seeks to reduce the NSW Government’s operating costs and lead by example in increasing the efficiency of its resource use.

The policy focuses on four main areas – energy, water, and waste and air emissions – and ensures that government agencies are empowered to address rising resource costs, use their purchasing power to drive down the cost of new technologies and services and also show leadership in their decision making.

Notably, the updated Policy includes new requirements for major constructions to assure outcomes through the use of Green Star – Design & As Built, Green Star – Interiors and Green Star – Performance.

All new facilities, including office buildings, fit-outs and other building types with project costs over $10 million, are required to achieve and maintain Green Star ratings or be designed to standards as specified by the Policy.

As a positive step towards the NSW Government’s 2050 net zero aspirations, the Policy is a great example of how government leadership can support market transformation, reduce environmental impact and provide value for taxpayer’s money.

GBCA will continue working with other state governments to build on the model presented by the GREP, and help leverage government.

NABERS invites feedback

NABERS has released its strategic plan for the next five years.

NABERS is a foundational tool for property companies and works hand in hand with Green Star to drive emissions reductions in commercial buildings and catalyse the transformation of our built environment.

Now in its 21st year, the program has been a significant driver of increased transparency in our buildings by providing a broader understanding of the benefits of increased efficiency in energy, water, waste and indoor environment quality.

GBCA are a member of the NABERS Steering Committee, which has been supporting the development of the NABERS Strategic Plan for 2019-2023. The draft plan is now out seeking broader stakeholder input until 28 February.

The draft plan sets out a vision to double the number of NABERS ratings and expand the program’s reach into new market segments.

The GBCA looks forward to continuing our support of NABERS through Green Star and to delivering change through the synergies of our respective rating tools. As NABERS moves into the next chapter of its sustainability journey, we will work to ensure that this expansion meets the needs of industry and remains true to the core principles that have made the program so effective.

The draft Strategic Plan can be accessed here.

Driving policy leadership

We invite you to take a look at our Advocacy Highlights document, mapping the strides we’ve taken with government and industry to secure policy leadership over the last 12 months to develop sustainable cities and communities. We have also developed a report summarising some key achievements of our local government members around the country through green star projects.

Over the coming months as Australia heads into a federal election, the GBCA will be presenting our policy platform to federal policy makers on ways to drive sustainability across the built environment – at the building, community and city scale. Reflecting the priorities outlined in our new Strategic Plan , the platform sets out recommendations for achieving carbon positive buildings, strong government leadership, a vision for cities and communities, smarter infrastructure investments, and affordable, sustainable housing.