“Around 95 per cent of Australia’s commercial buildings are not brand new. This means that the greening of our existing buildings is a considerable challenge – and one that must be tackled to secure Australia’s sustainable future,” says the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) Executive Director Robin Mellon.

“We welcome any incentive to retrofit existing buildings, as buildings are one of the fastest, most cost-effective and most attainable opportunities for climate change abatement and mitigation.”
From 1 July 2011, it is proposed that businesses that invest in eligible assets or capital works to improve the energy efficiency of their existing buildings will be eligible to apply for a one-off bonus tax deduction of 50 per cent of the cost of these improvements.
“We applaud the Australian Government’s ‘carrot and stick’ approach, which will deliver rewards through the Tax Breaks for Green Buildings program while also mandating the disclosure of commercial offices’ energy efficiency through the Commercial Building Disclosure program. It is particularly important to strike a balance between contemporary regulation and incentives.

“It’s also vital that Federal and state governments widen their focus beyond energy efficiency. Sustainability is about more than just energy efficiency, and encompasses greenhouse gas emissions, water, waste, indoor environment quality and many other factors,” says Mr Mellon.
A range of metrics, used both nationally and internationally, can be used to track efficiency, improvements and performance of green buildings.
The GBCA is currently developing a Green Star rating tool which can assess the sustainability of existing buildings. Green Star – Performance will address all nine Green Star environmental impact categories, including management, transport, indoor environment quality, land use and ecology, emissions, materials and innovation. The tool is expected to be launched in 2012.
“The existing building challenge is one of the GBCA’s five priorities, and we have been calling for a scheme that encourages businesses to transform their existing buildings for some time. We look forward to working with the Gillard Government on other similar initiatives,” says Mr Mellon.
The GBCA’s five green building priorities for 2010–13 are:
  • Provide visionary government leadership
  • Retrofit and improve existing buildings
  • Green education and healthcare facilities
  • Move beyond buildings to communities and cities
  • Embed green skills across all industry training.
The GBCA is Australia’s leading authority on green building. The GBCA was established in 2002 to develop a sustainable property industry in Australia and drive the adoption of green building practices. The GBCA has more than 900 member companies who work together to support the Council and its activities. The GBCA promotes green building programs, technologies, design practices and processes, and operates Australia’s only national voluntary comprehensive environmental rating system for buildings – Green Star.