The City of Sydney has signed an Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA) to assist with the financing of an energy efficiency upgrade to a commercial office building in the city centre.

An EUA is a voluntary tripartite agreement between a building owner, a finance provider and a local council, and aims to encourage building upgrades.

The $700,000 agreement will fund energy-efficient lighting, air conditioning and building management system upgrades to St James’ Hall at 169-171 Phillip Street, Sydney, which is owned by the Anglican Church Property Trust Diocese of Sydney on behalf of the Parish of St James. This agreement was signed by the City of Sydney, The Australian Environmental Upgrade Fund (TAEUF) and the Parish.

The energy efficiency upgrade is expected to reduce base building energy use and outgoings by approximately 30 per cent. Once the EUA is paid off, the tenants and the building owner will continue to benefit from reduced utility bills.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore explained that EUAs help building owners take advantage of affordable, long-term financing options to install up-to-date quality technology and improve building performance.

Similar to the Parish of St James, many building owners are taking advantage of these innovative financing mechanisms, enabling them to improve building performance, reduce emissions, and make their buildings more energy efficient.

Under the EUA, the financier provides the building owner with funds for the upgrade, and the owner repays the loan by paying an additional charge on their rates notice, called an environmental upgrade charge. Tenants provide contributions equal to or less than the savings they make in their utility bills as a result of the works, with the building owner using the contributions to service the loan repayments.

NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes commented that EUAs offer a great way for property owners to gain competitive finance for work that improves the value of their assets. Mr Stokes adds that these upgrades benefit the building owner because buildings with high energy productivity are generally better places to work, have higher tenancy rates and have a smaller carbon footprint.

Work on the efficiency upgrade for St James’ Hall, which is tenanted by barristers’ chambers, has already begun and is due to finish by October.

Finance for the agreement will be provided by The Australian Environmental Upgrade Fund, managed by Eureka Funds Management. The National Australia Bank and Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) are the contributors to the fund.

The EUAs are part of the City’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions across the local government area by 70 per cent by 2030, based on 2006 levels.