Green Issues – Energy Ratings for High Rise Buildings

msi_-_high_rise_2By Peter Spring, Keegan Alexander, Lawyers, Auckland NZ.

These days, we read and hear a great deal about green issues and sustainability in relation to rivers, wildlife and such like but often overlooked are high rise buildings in which many of us live and work. The vast majority of high rise buildings are operating at far from maximum energy efficiency and have room to improve.

There is currently an “energy efficiency gap” where cost effective measures could be taken to improve efficiency, often increasing revenue or at least being revenue neutral. However, many owners and managers of high rise buildings are failing to implement these measures because of a number of factors including:

  • The perceived risks and costs being too high
  • A lack of time of time and knowledge on behalf of managers
  • The payback periods considered to be too long
  • Tenant resistance to energy efficient practices.

However, the main system for classifying energy efficiency in high rise buildings in Australia, the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (“NABERS”) is attempting to stimulate management interest in making their high rise buildings more energy efficient. The benefits of obtaining and improving your building’s NABERS rating include:

  • Promoting a positive, green corporate image
  • Obtaining cost savings and hence a better return on investment.

Despite the slow adoption of energy efficient practices by office managers, the Warren Centre’s LERH (“Low Energy High Rise”) concluded that most high rise buildings in Australia today should reasonably be able to be upgraded to NABERS rating of four stars by adopting cost efficient energy savings practices. The implementation of these energy savings upgrades would be a step towards reducing the Energy Efficiency Gap and will result in reductions of both operating costs and energy usage.

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