A coalition that includes the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), Property Council of Australia (PCA), Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH), Energy Efficiency Council, Facility Management Association of Australia (FMAA), City of Sydney, City of Melbourne and CitySwitch, has released a report that aims to help buildings in Australia save on their energy costs.

Opportunity Knocks: Accelerating energy efficiency for mid-tier buildings looks at non-A Grade or non-Premium Grade buildings, and how to help better manage our increasing demand for energy by upgrading these inefficient structures.

“Mid-tier buildings account for around 80 percent of Australia’s office buildings and 50 percent of floor space,” says Jonathan Cartledge, head of Public Affairs for the 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,” he says.

Mid-tier or sub-prime buildings are those that were constructed between 1960 and 2000 with outdated and inefficient technologies, resulting in energy efficiencies well below their potential. 

The sector, says the report, “is highly fragmented, and characterised by varied ownership structures that contribute to market failures including split incentives between owners and tenants”.

“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,” says Francesca Muskovic, policy manager – Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs at the PCA.

At its core, Opportunity Knocks: Accelerating energy efficiency for mid-tier buildings proposes a new framework as well as five immediate action points 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 push for higher efficiency requirements for their own tenancies and offices
5. Invest in research to improve understanding of energy opportunities across the building sector.

According to Cartledge, “Many are familiar with the challenges of improving the performance of the older building stock across our cities. But these challenges will only be met through a combination of measures delivered through government leadership and with industry support.”