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Thursday, 18 March 2010
Page: 2928

Mr COMBET (Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change) (9:46 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Bill 2010 aims to ensure that credible and meaningful energy efficiency information is given to prospective purchasers and lessees of large commercial office space. This information will help these parties to make better informed decisions and take full account of the economic costs and environmental impacts associated with operating the buildings they are intending to purchase or lease.

Energy efficiency represents one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways we can reduce our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the commercial building sector has the potential to deliver some of the lowest cost abatement. Requiring the disclosure of commercial building energy efficiency is an important part of the government’s approach to unlocking this abatement potential.

This will not only help lead to more informed purchasers and lessees, it will also help to transition the market to a low-carbon future. It will reward current market leaders and encourage owners of inefficient buildings to pay more attention to energy efficiency opportunities, some of which might be as simple as turning off the lights and air-conditioning when nobody is in the building, or putting someone in charge of monitoring energy use.

Recognising the major role that energy efficiency can play in tackling climate change, the government made a commitment at the last election to introduce a disclosure scheme of this nature. Building energy efficiency disclosure was subsequently included as one of the key building sector measures in the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency, which was signed off in July 2009 by the Council of Australian Governments.

The development of this scheme has been managed by a working group from the Australian, state and territory governments and has involved significant research, analysis and public consultation spanning the past three years. A full regulatory impact statement has been undertaken. Industry has been engaged throughout the process and has indicated a broad level of support for this scheme.

In essence, the bill will create a legal requirement for owners of large commercial office buildings to obtain energy efficiency information for their building and then to disclose it to prospective purchasers and lessees. It will also require head tenants who are subletting office space to disclose this information.

The requirement will apply when office space covering 2,000 square metres or more is offered for sale, lease or sublease.

Under the scheme, a full building energy efficiency certificate will be made available to interested parties including possible purchasers, lessees and sublessees. The information in the certificate will include a star rating of the building’s energy efficiency, an assessment of the efficiency of lighting and additional guidance on improving the building. The star rating for the building will need to be included in any advertisement.

By instituting a building energy efficiency disclosure scheme such as this, Australia continues its move to the forefront of global action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment—joining jurisdictions in the European Union and California which have already begun comparable schemes.

While there is more work that both government and industry can do to unlock the abatement potential of commercial buildings, this bill represents an important step in the right direction. It harnesses the power of the market, providing a powerful incentive for businesses to operate buildings efficiently and reduce their impacts on the environment. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Wood) adjourned.