What is a green building?

A green building is a building with an ecologically sustainable focus which is designed and built with energy and water efficiency in mind, as well as minimising any adverse impact on its inhabitants and the environment.

Section J of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) imposes mandatory energy efficiency performance standards on new buildings and refurbished buildings.

Initially, the move to buildings designed and built in accordance with environmentally sustainable development (ESD) principles was generated by the market and led to the creation of a number of tools which rate the energy efficiency or impact on the environment of commercial buildings.

These tools are now supplemented by the
Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act 2010 (Cth) which makes it mandatory, from 1 November 2010, subject to the exceptions set out below, to obtain and disclose an energy efficiency rating when selling or leasing an office space of 2,000 square metres or more. This is known as the Commercial Building Disclosure program.

Under the
Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure (Disclosure Affected Buildings) Determination 2011, exceptions are granted to:

  • new buildings where a certificate of occupancy (or equivalent) has either not yet been issued or was issued less than two years earlier;
  • buildings which have completed major refurbishment for which a certificate of occupancy (or equivalent) was issued less than two years earlier;
  • strata titled buildings; and
  • mixed use buildings where total office space comprises less than 75% of the building by net lettable area (or gross lettable area if net lettable area is unavailable).

The purpose of this chapter is to give an overview of the rating tools, legal framework and general considerations that apply to green commercial buildings. This chapter does not address:

  • residential buildings, including the operation of BASIX (Building Sustainability Index), NatHERS (Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme), or Green Star Multi Unit Residential;
  • NGERS (National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System), relating to the mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions for companies that meet the reporting thresholds;
  • the Carbon Tax introduced by the Commonwealth Government in November 2011; and
  • any proposed emissions trading scheme.

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