Old buildings take the green lead

Monday, 27 April, 2009

Improving the energy efficiency of Australia’s existing commercial buildings is one of the fastest, most effective ways to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, reports CSIRO.

Energy-efficiency upgrades can also reduce running costs for tenants and enable the building’s owners to attract valuable clients, such as large corporations and government agencies, which are increasingly opting for energy-rated offices.

The everyday electrical services of both residential and commercial buildings — such as lighting, air conditioning, lifts and hot water — account for almost a quarter of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

A recent report from the University of Technology Sydney shows buildings can achieve a National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) ‘base’ building energy rating of around 4.0, solely through improved management practices and without the need for major investments in technology.

Building owners signed up to the Total Environment Centre’s Existing Buildings Project are achieving reductions in energy use of up to 40% and will be able to qualify for NABERS energy ratings of 4.0–4.5.

Projects encouraging the industry to upgrade existing buildings in preference to constructing ‘green’ buildings from scratch — thus avoiding massive hidden ‘embodied’ emissions from construction, materials, and waste — are emerging around the country, involving government agencies and key players such as the Green Building Council of Australia.

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