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Green Building Council unveils rating tool Share on Facebook
AMID the fanfare of Ross Garnaut's report on a national response to climate change, the Green Building Council of Australia has unveiled a rating tool for the commercial property sector.

by fairfax - Sunday, 12 October 2008

It is called the green star industrial pilot and is the first such system that assesses the environmental attributes of new and refurbished industrial facilities.

According to the council, the industrial pilot rating will challenge the sector, with a focus on manufacturing and warehouse developers, to adopt sustainable practices and drive the industry to create green star-certified industrial facilities that will also provide an ideal environment for workers.

The council's chief executive, Romilly Madew, said the release of this tool was significant for the property industry.

"We all recognise that this is a time of economic change, even facing a slowdown, but we cannot stop including environmentally sustainable initiatives in all of our buildings," Ms Madew said.

The council was joined by more than 100 property professionals and sponsors for the unveiling of the new rating tool, which will assess industrial facilities against the eight green-star categories of energy, water, emissions, materials, indoor environment quality, management and transport, ecology and innovation.

Cameron Eren, a co-ordinator with the Total Environment Centre, who is supporting the sector's initiatives, said climate change was emerging as a key challenge for commercial property.

Mr Eren said where needed, new green buildings would help to mitigate the predicted growth in emissions from the sector but because inefficient property stock accounted for up to 98 per cent of existing floor space, any real attempt to reduce emissions from commercial property would require the upgrading of existing buildings.

"Through the existing buildings project, Macquarie Office Trust - which owns 2 Market Street - GPT Group, Australian Prime Property Fund and the Local Government and Superannuation Scheme have announced that they will upgrade their entire Australian office portfolios to achieve a NABERS [National Australian Built Environment Rating System] energy rating of 4.5 by 2012," Mr Eren said

"Becton Property Group has announced that it will upgrade its portfolio to a rating of 4.0 over the same period."

In a new report, Commercial Property And Climate Change- Exposures And Opportunities, Mr Eren said as climate change gathered momentum, the responses of government, the market, and the elements would all reshape the operating environment of building owners.
But the news for commercial property is not all bad. The report reveals that while commercial property is one of the sectors most clearly exposed to climate change it is also one of the sectors that is best placed to manage its climate-related exposures.

"As a result of climate change, building owners are simultaneously exposed to demand risk, compliance risk, regulatory risk, inflated cost structures, extreme weather events, reputational risk, and broader market risks," he said.

"Fortunately, the means by which commercial property trusts can manage these risks not only offer above-market rates of return but are also eligible for third party subsidisation.

"The neutralisation of carbon liabilities currently embedded within the commercial property sector boasts the rare quality of simultaneously allowing trusts to realise the value that has long lied dormant within property assets."

He said that fortunately, while commercial property was one of the sectors most clearly exposed to climate change, it was also one of the sectors best placed to manage the risks.

The report says the upgrading of existing building stock boasts the rare quality of offering above-market rates of return while also qualifying for third party subsidisation. This ensures that the management of an embedded liability simultaneously allows trusts to realise the embedded value that has lay dormant within commercial property assets.

"Whilst recent years have witnessed the rise of green building the focus of industry has so far been upon the development of new buildings."

The smart money has seen the writing on the wall and has already begun to manage its exposures, Mr Eren said. In the short term emissions reductions would offer these groups a competitive advantage. Over the medium term emissions reductions would simply become a defensive strategy.


Related Links - Green Building Council of Australia
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