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Australia’s cities are built on untapped opportunities – in fact, up to 80,000 untapped opportunities that need government support to meet their potential.

This is the message from a broad coalition of industry associations and local governments that have developed a
new policy framework to realise new sources of energy efficiency and reliability for Australia’s mid-tier building
stock, using existing policy levers.

'Opportunity Knocks: Accelerating energy efficiency for mid-tier buildings' is supported by a broad coalition of industry associations and leading local governments, including the Green Building Council of Australia, Property Council of Australia, Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH), Energy Efficiency Council, Facility Management Association of Australia, City of Sydney, City of Melbourne and CitySwitch.

The report finds that up to 80,000 buildings in Australia are classified as ‘mid-tier’ – that is non-A Grade or nonPremium
Grade – and that these buildings are a powerful mechanism to help better manage the nation's increasing demand for new energy.

“Mid-tier buildings account for around 80 per cent of Australia’s office buildings and 50 per cent of floor space,” according to Jonathan Cartledge, head of public affairs for the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

“We know that high performing buildings in Australia consume around a third less electricity and produce a third fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the average mid-tier building – so we are talking about a massive opportunity to improve efficiency and cut emissions."

Opportunity Knocks proposes a new policy framework and five immediate actions for governments:

1. Reduce the threshold required to disclose energy performance of buildings

2. Expand disclosure requirements to new sectors with a focus on tenants

3. Support business through targeted tax incentives for building upgrades

4. Governments to lead by example through higher efficiency requirements for their own tenancies and offices

5. Invest in research to improve our understanding of energy opportunities across the building sector.

Cartledge said the challenge of improving the performance of the older building stock will only be met through a combination of measures delivered through government leadership and with industry support.

The policy manager of sustainability and regulatory affairs at the Property Council of Australia, Francesca Muskovic, said
mid-tier or sub-prime buildings are typically constructed between 1960 and 2000 with outdated and inefficient technologies, resulting in buildings operating well below their potential.

She said the sector is highly fragmented, and characterised by varied ownership structures that contribute to market failures including split incentives between owners and tenants, and a lack of information and awareness among building owners and operators.

“The market failures characteristic of sub-prime buildings make them a natural priority for governments to lead practical policy interventions that will deliver real benefits across the economy,” Muskovic said.

“Currently, the mid-tier sector is poorly positioned to deliver greater energy efficiency or help reduce peak demand for energy, both of which are increasing priorities for governments.”

Recommendations put forward in the report are a mix of regulatory oversight to deliver greater transparency, and tax incentives to encourage action on the ground. Download Opportunity Knocks: Accelerating energy efficiency for mid-tier buildings at https://gbcaweb.s3.amazonaws.com/media/documents/mid-tier-opportunity-knocks-web.pdf

 

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