The Australian Greens will today introduce into the Senate a Bill for a world-leading scheme to upgrade Australia's commercial buildings such as offices, schools, hotels and shopping centres for energy efficiency.
The Energy Efficient Non-Residential Buildings Scheme, developed from an idea from Lend Lease, Lincolne Scott and Advanced Environmental, would establish a cap and trade scheme for building energy efficiency, ensuring that all of Australia's commercial buildings are upgraded as swiftly and fairly as possible.
"We have a huge opportunity to reduce our impact on the climate and save money at the same time by embracing energy efficiency, an opportunity we have barely begun to tap here in Australia," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.
"This scheme, developed here in Australia, is the world's first proposal that would tap the full potential of energy efficiency in commercial buildings.
"By capping energy use from the commercial building sector, bringing that cap down over time, and allowing building managers to trade permits, we would trigger a tremendous investment in energy efficiency upgrades and see greenhouse emissions and energy bills come down fast.
"We know that price is only one small barrier amongst many to energy efficiency measures being taken up, so an emissions trading scheme can never be as effective as a scheme which requires building managers to make it a priority."
The scheme would work by
• setting a declining energy intensity cap for each building type for each climate zone, (based on data collected over two years);
• allocating permits within that cap for each building based on its size; and
• allowing trading of permits between building owners - those whose buildings are relatively efficient can sell extra permits, while those less efficient will have to buy more to match their energy use.
The scheme has the great advantage of rewarding early movers while still ensuring that the whole sector improves its performance.
The commercial building sector is currently responsible for 17.7% of Australia's energy-related greenhouse emissions, but emissions from the sector could be halved by 2030 through energy efficiency measures, according to the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council.
"The Rudd Government clearly does not yet appreciate the huge emissions reductions that energy efficiency can deliver, having consistently underestimated the potential in its official statements to the UN.
"The Government has a great opportunity to demonstrate that it is serious about the climate crisis by supporting this Bill and getting our offices, schools and shopping centres working towards energy efficiency."