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Energy efficient office buildings: transforming the mid-tier sector

  • Date:
  • Author(s)/Creator(s):
    Sustainability Victoria
  • Publisher(s)/Producter(s):
    Sustainability Victoria

Sustainability Victoria’s Energy Efficient Office Buildings program demonstrates that energy savings of up to 29% can be achieved across the mid-tier office buildings sector, via building tuning and cost-effective energy efficiency measures.

The building sector in Australia accounts for approximately 19% of total energy consumption and 23% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions1. Recent modelling suggests that the building sector can potentially deliver a 23% reduction in emissions by 2030, with reductions of 55% estimated by 20502. The modelling assumes no further technological breakthroughs and suggests, therefore, that these reductions can be realised through viable cost-effective energy efficiency actions alone.

Should no further action be taken, modelling also suggests that the building sector could potentially consume almost half of Australia’s carbon budget by 2050. The carbon budget is the maximum GHG emissions Australia can release to have a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Significant cuts to emissions across the built environment sector are therefore critical for Victoria and Australia to reach long-term targets of net zero GHG emissions by 2050. Urgent action is required now to transform this sector.

The mid-tier building sector comprises a significant portion of the built environment. The ‘mid-tier’ is defined (within the commercial building sector) as non A-grade, or non premium-grade buildings3. Typically constructed between 1960 and 2000, these buildings represent an era removed from current energy efficiency considerations. In Victoria, these buildings are represented by older,medium-sized office buildings in the Melbourne CBD and in suburban and regional centres.

Mid-tier buildings often contain outdated and inefficient technologies and the buildings are often operated well below potential. In addition, sector challenges relating to ownership structures, split incentives4 between owner and tenant and a lack of awareness around sustainability issues all affect sector engagement.

In Victoria, the mid-tier office building sector represents approximately 80% of all office buildings and emits more than 1.3 million tonnes of CO2-e per year. Because of this, the sector represents a significant opportunity for sector-wide energy efficiency and carbon emissions reduction.

Sustainability Victoria’s Energy Efficient Office Buildings (EEOB) program demonstrates that the savings potential in mid-tier office buildings is significant, real and feasible.

Stakeholder groups that have played important roles in the delivery of the EEOB program include property owners, facility managers, service providers, and tenants. This report is concluded by presenting key stakeholder group insights, outcomes and next steps, to enable individuals from these groups to access targeted, practical information to encourage and enable them to improve the energy efficiency of Victoria’s mid-tier building stock. This approach also enables policy makers to stand in the shoes of other stakeholder groups to understand their unique perspectives.

Sustainability Victoria; Better commercial buildings
Policy Quality
Urban planning
Energy consumption
Energy conservation
low carbon living