Energy Efficient Business Needs More Stars

25 July 2010

Ray Wills, CEO
Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA)

The WA Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) welcomes the Labor policy announcement today that will provide tax breaks to businesses that improve the energy efficiency of their commercial buildings.

WA SEA, Australia’s largest energy industry chamber, notes commercial buildings account for almost one fifth of Australia’s energy use.

‘Improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings could easily cut 10% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions,’ says WA SEA Chief Executive, Prof Ray Wills.

‘The measures announced by Labor today as an election commitment are significant and will create real change in the energy intensity of Australia’s economy. Improving energy efficiency in Australian buildings will improve both business profitability and national productivity, and strengthen Australia’s economy,’ says Prof Wills.

‘However, the measure is overdue and still only modest, not ambitious. We must change the paradigm of wasteful energy use in Australia’s business and aim for the stars – or at least more stars.’

‘The tax break proposed for buildings going from 2 stars or lower to 4 stars or higher must instead be strengthened.’

‘When spending taxpayers’ dollars, we must reward the best outcomes and not the “least best”. In particular, 4 stars is not all that ambitious, and the base for receiving the tax benefit should be at least a minimum 5 Star Plus performance level under the Building Code of Australia.’

‘Further, a graded reward could be applied, with a 25% tax break if the renovated building achieves 5 stars, a 33% tax break for 6 stars, and the full 50% for more than 6 stars,’ suggests Prof Wills.

‘Such measures must be accompanied by strengthened mandatory energy efficiency reporting of the energy use and efficiency that takes in all commercial buildings, not just big ones. Sales and rental advertising must disclose energy efficiency on both buildings to allow the potential owner or tenant to compare the running costs in different buildings.’

‘Eligibility criteria for the tax breaks announced today must include mandatory installation of renewable energy electricity generation, as well as solar water heaters or optionally high efficiency water heating such as heat pumps, on all buildings seeking benefit from this scheme.’

‘And consideration must be given to retrospective application from the date of the election – if start dates for initiatives such as this are delayed, markets will stall until start-up, and the building industry will be stuck in the doldrums of delayed incentives.’

‘Similar measures need to be developed across all Australian governments, and COAG and Local Governments must continue to improve energy ratings of new houses and buildings, with built into all renovation approvals.’

‘Most importantly, the Federal Government must also walk the talk – measures being encouraged for business must be rolled out and demonstrated as a greater priority in government operations. All government departments and agencies must be instructed to increase energy efficiency and install renewable energy on all existing government facilities and other public buildings. Further, the Government must ensure new buildings built on the public purse are energy efficient buildings and powered by renewable energy.’

‘In particular, all Government operations must aim to source 100% renewable energy for their power requirements by 2015.’

‘We must fundamentally change the way we think about energy and how we do business. And we must act,’ says Prof Wills.

Editors notes:

1. Labor statement on tax breaks for green buildings

2. What the world is doing

3. The Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) is a chamber of enterprises has a growing membership of over 340 industry members from a diversity of businesses. WA SEA is the largest energy industry body in Australia.

4. WA SEA bringing you the Energising SE Asia Conference 23-26 March 2011, Perth.

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