By Rod Kington, National Manager – Sustainability
Energy-efficient buildings follow the net-zero concept for green technology and global emission reduction. By installing systems to reclaim the same amount of energy and emissions that are lost, these buildings aim to become self-sufficient within their environment. Following the net-zero concept means that all power generated is consumed, rather than lost, leading to lower energy bills overall. Likewise, energy-efficient homes and buildings create zero greenhouse gas emissions. Boosting energy productivity is possible through the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar paneled roofs or installed smart devices.
A building or area of a building that is offered for sale, lease, or sublease can get a Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC) once it passes the energy-efficiency rating.
BEEC has two parts:
1. National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) energy for offices rating for the building provides information on the building’s energy efficiency. It covers the base or whole building rating (a whole building rating includes the tenanted space and is disclosed if there is inadequate metering to obtain a base building rating). Learn more: NABERS Energy for Offices star ratings
2. CBD Tenancy Lighting Assessment (TLA) for the area of the building that is being sold, leased or subleased. The TLA is an assessment of tenancy lighting that measures the power density of the installed general lighting system. Learn more: Tenancy lighting assessments
Commercial office buildings become less efficient over time. Investment is needed on an ongoing basis to find new and effective ways to lower overall costs and save money. Reducing operating costs also makes commercial buildings more appealing to tenants and improves building yields, leading to increased asset value.
The traditional commercial office is changing. Workspaces are becoming more connected, open plans are common and technology is being used to create a seamless occupancy. As vacancy pressure increase in a post COVID environment there is an extra push to identify and reduce operating costs and find smarter and better ways to run a highly efficient building.
New technologies such as IOT, analytics data and AI solutions are paving the way and driving building optimisation. A low-cost per capita environment is ultimately what all building owners are seeking.
Sustainability consultants specialise in finding ways to reduce operating costs. An energy check-up is an excellent way to find where saving can be found and review plant and equipment usage then benchmark data against industry metrics.
Be transparent with contractors around pressures from vacancy and leasing incentives. It is important to work with contractors in a collaborative manner to ensure the best results are achieved.
Solar panels and LED lighting are two technologies that offer an excellent return on investment. The initial capital outlay of solar panels can be expensive however they recover costs quickly. A lighting audit to eliminate the remaining non LED lights will deliver great returns. Consider upgrading tenants’ lights to LED.
Both buildings and building control strategies have evolved but are often not aligned. Consider an independent review of the Building Management System’s (BMS) functional description and operation. For buildings without BMS systems there are low cost solutions on the market which integrate analytics and remote maintenance leap frogging legacy systems.
Energy rating tools also help manage outcomes. Many building types do not fall neatly into NABERS rating models, however an experienced assessor can utilise existing frameworks to enable useful benchmarking and manage efficiency.