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EUAs: NSW experts to reap rewards… and other good news

Sam Hall

By Tina Perinotto

21 November 2013 — Environmental Upgrade Agreements are picking up momentum.

Perth has appointed Sam Hall (pictured) to investigate a retrofit scheme that include EUAs.

In Sydney there’s a hush-hush new deal in the city that will send charges back through the tenants where they belong, but few have feared to tread.

And NSW also has a brilliant state government scheme for a panel of EUA experts who will be paid $10,000 to $15,000 to get deals across the line. Brilliant because it’s a way of seeding the know-how rather than pushing stand-alone deals

Submissions for this panel closed on Monday, but see below for details of what’s on offer.

In Melbourne, EUA champion Scott Bocskay, who is chief executive of the Sustainable Melbourne Fund, reports there are “two or three” EUAs close to completion after the hoopla that surrounded the former Ansett building deal in the city.

Plan Melbourne, a revision of the Melbourne 2030 strategic plan, which closes for public submission on 6 December, is another catalyst, flagging the broadening of EUAs to the entire state.

Bocskay says the submission from his organisation is to bring the EUAs forward “to capture immediate benefits, rather than wait till 2017 to roll it out”, as proposed under the current framework.

Solar

But the best news is the planned expansion of the scheme to target solar panel installation for industrial and commercial premises.

This is part of the City of Melbourne’s current audit of potential sites that are in the metropolitan area of Melbourne but outside of the CBD to avoid overshadowing issues.

Bocskay says, “Australia has the highest solar penetration on a per capita basis in the world but it’s mainly in low density freestanding houses. But in city 70 per cent of people live in high rise; it’s the basic typography.”

The good news is that the city has identified 1.5 million square metres of available space on industrial, retail and commercial premises out of the CBD.

There’s also the work undertaken by a bunch of nine local Melbourne councils, which have identified a whopping 14 square kilometres of industrial space that can also be retrofitted with solar panels.

Bocskay recently presented a discussion on the potential for EUAs for solar power and it was attended by 150 or so people, “which is a significant amount of interest in solar,” he says.

“When you get down to it, it’s just a way to pay for a project.

“There are a couple of projects in NSW looking at it. Much of the discussion is around commercial office but a lot more could be around industrial, light industrial and retail.”

The solar move, he says, is part of a “strategic push” to broaden the options for EUAs.

“When you start to think about industrial property there is a huge amount of opportunity – worth around $2 billion in investment.”

Bosckay says there are two or three immediate proposals that might go through within six months or so.

Optimistically, he says that delays these days are no longer associated with the EUA structures but with the technicalities of the program of works.

“It’s not an EUA hold-up it’s just finalising the scope of work, the project engineering and financial scope,” he says.

Lighting and resi

Bocskay says that currently the biggest interest from EUA proponents is in lighting upgrades.

In a separate part of its program SMF wants to take this one step further – into the residential field with a direct investment finance product to put LEDs in homes with old technology lighting.

This could bring about the prediction by energy expert Alan Pears that getting LEDs into supermarkets – which means making them affordable – will be a game changer.

Perth

Meanwhile, the EUA movement is going viral around the country.

In Perth, Sam Hall is managing a program to roll out a funding mechanism for retrofits in Perth, which may or may not alight on the EUA model. It all depends on what shapes up best, Hall says.

Hall has just returned from a US scoping visit to “learn more about the green building/benchmarking programs”.

Her work is with the Sustainable City Development Unit, led by Robert Farley, which is the outfit that’s commissioned the audit of Perth’s CBD building stock through HFM Asset Management to “determine the viability of EUAs as well as other options for Perth”

The work will scope out the potential for building services retrofits, façade treatments and solar.

Hall, by the way, is doing a PhD on the subject of transitioning existing buildings to be green and healthy for occupants, and how to get large-scale uptake of these programs. Now we’ll bet that wasn’t a worthy subject matter anywhere on the academic radar five years ago (we’d love to be proved wrong).

Queensland

In Queensland, serious investigations are underway prompted in large part by the Property Council, which sees a small boom in the making thanks to the preponderance of older buildings in the Brisbane CBD that are very well located.

South Australia

In South Australia the government recently reconfirmed its commitment to continue developing the program in association with local governments.

Ceclia Kemp

North Sydney

Cecilia Kemp, North Sydney’s sustainable business officer, says EUA information events are drawing much bigger interest than anticipated –  65 guests in one recent case. Not long after, Kemp issued the council’s first registration form.

Newcastle

Newcastle is also busy spreading the message for its second tier building owners.

Yes, there’s been “bad” press on EUAs. What’s true is that the property industry has an in-built sceptics radar that would put Lord Monckton to shame.

But most of this has come from the same place as Monckton’s scepticism: vested interests. In the case of Monckton it’s those who wave the biggest cheques: miners, in particular Gina Rinehart et al. (and yes, all the money trails have been tracked).

In the case of EUAs it’s those whose job it is to find fault so that they get paid for fixing the problems: tenant reps and lawyers, generally.

Guests at a recent North Sydney EUA information event

Aims of the program are to:

  • Remove conflicting interests between EUA stakeholders (council, building owner, financier)
  • Incentivise recruitment and engagement of building owners
  • Remove perceptions of government involvement/interference in a commercial agreement
  • Facilitate relationships between the service providers delivering the upgrade (auditors, service providers, suppliers)

Fees

Fees will be a maximum of $15,000 for each EUA signed through this facilitation model and will comprise:

$10,000 for an EUA that delivers energy savings (electricity and gas);

An additional $5000 if the EUA delivers savings in water, waste or another substantial environmental improvement as defined in the EUA.

Total budget is $300,000.

Project must be signed with first advancement of project funds from the financier by 31 December 2015.

The fee is not applicable for any retrospective EUAs or EUA projects currently underway. Please contact OEH if you have any queries in regards to project eligibility.

Targets

Minimum resource savings targets are:

  • Energy reduction – 10 per cent reduction in total site consumption
  • Water reduction – 10 per cent reduction in total site consumption
  • Waste reduction – 63 per cent site resource recovery
  • Renewable energy generation – 20kW (minimum system size per site)

Subsidised targeted investigations

A 50 per cent subsidy is available to pay for targeted energy investigation of potential sites to provide a strong business case to meet EUA, with only clients that are highly likely to take up an EUA to be eligible.

Technical support

Technical support of 50 per cent in matched funding from OEH capped at $3000 is also available.

Consultants

Consultants will be appointed by OEH for a period of the years, with potential for a 12 month extension.

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