The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) have welcomed the recent announcement by the federal government on the expansion of the Commercial Building Disclosure Scheme (CBD).

Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, Josh Frydenberg MP said that the threshold of the CBD scheme has been lowered from 2,000 sqm to 1,000 sqm, which is expected to see an additional 1,000 commercial buildings disclose their energy efficiency ratings at the time of sale or lease.

Frydenberg said the lower threshold will “help inform purchasers and tenants of building energy costs, delivering more than $50 million in energy savings, and around 3.5 million tonnes of emission reductions over five years”.

Observing that the CBD scheme has led to improvements in energy efficiency, reductions in GHG emissions, and effectiveness in raising awareness of building performance and creating a market incentive for higher-performing buildings, ASBEC President Prof Ken Maher said the expansion of this program will engage many more commercial buildings in energy efficiency initiatives.

Additionally, the Equipment Energy Efficiency program aims to deliver energy savings in building appliances. ASBEC’s Low Carbon, High Performance report has found that Australia’s building sector can deliver up to 28 per cent of Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target, reach zero carbon by 2050, and save $20 billion, provided strong measures are adopted.

Maher added that an expanded CBD program and a pathway for improved appliance efficiency are both strong steps in enabling the built environment to meet its emissions reduction potential, while also creating healthier and more productive buildings.

The Green Building Council of Australia believes that the Coalition’s commitment to expand the CBD program will open the door to greater energy efficiency opportunities in the commercial building sector.

According to GBCA Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew, the CBD program has been a critical driver in unlocking the emissions reduction potential of buildings while raising awareness of building energy performance among occupants, delivering cost savings and creating jobs.

The mid-tier commercial office buildings pathway report, released in 2015 and developed by the GBCA and the federal Department of Industry Innovation and Science with support from Sustainability Victoria, City Of Melbourne and EY, found an estimated 80,000 mid-tier commercial office buildings ready for energy efficiency upgrades.

Madew says the lowered threshold for mandatory disclosure will encourage many building owners to explore the range of services, resources and technologies that can deliver building upgrades, often at relatively low cost, with attractive payback periods.

Given that buildings are responsible for 23 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, it is imperative that programs tackling older buildings and driving investment in energy efficiency are introduced as the country moves towards a zero carbon future.