In brief

The Federal Government has proposed Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure (BEED) legislation which would:.

  • impose significant obligations on sellers and lessors of commercial office buildings – to obtain, register and advertise energy efficiency information. Sellers and lessors will need to adequately prepare for the proposed regime, to minimise potential disruption and delays. At least initially there may be a shortage of accredited assessors;  
  • present significant business opportunities for energy efficiency and environmental consultants; and  
  • provide significant support for building energy efficiency, likely to drive its importance as a building selling point in the future.  

Introduction

The Federal Government has recently released several proposals for regulatory schemes addressed to energy efficiency in commercial buildings, most importantly including:

  • the BEED legislation, and  
  • a National Building Energy Standard-Setting, Assessment and Rating Framework (Framework).  

BEED legislation

Obligations

The BEED legislation as proposed would primarily require an owner, lessor or sub-lessor of a commercial office building to:

  1. obtain and register a valid, current ‘building energy efficiency certificate’ (BEEC) prior to selling, leasing or subleasing (or offering or inviting offers to do so), and  
  2. not advertise for sale, lease or sublease unless the advertisement includes a valid, current energy efficiency rating for the office building.

A prospective purchaser, lessee or sublessee will also be able to require an owner, lessor or sublessee to give a valid, current BEEC.

Civil penalties of up to $110,000 would apply.

Initially, the government has proposed to apply the obligations to buildings with a net lettable area of more than 2,000m2. This application could be expanded in the future.

BEECs

A BEEC must include:

  1. an energy efficiency rating for the office building  
  2. an assessment of the energy efficiency of the office lighting, and  
  3. generic guidance on how the energy efficiency of the office may be improved.

BEECs will be issued by a recognised ‘issuing authority’, following an application from an ‘accredited assessor’. Accredited assessors will have powers to require an owner, lessor or sublessor to give information or building access necessary to conduct an assessment.

A BEEC is:

  • ‘valid’ if it meets set standards, and  
  • ‘current’ for a period of no more than 12 months.

BEER

BEECs will be registered on the Building Energy Efficiency Register (BEER) and can be publicly accessed.

Timing

The BEED legislation is currently before Federal Parliament. It has been referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment Communications and the Arts for inquiry and report. Submissions closed on 6 April 2010 and the reporting date is 11 May 2010.

If the BEED legislation is passed by Federal Parliament then the obligations would apply from a date to be set, which the government has indicated will be around October 2010.

Framework

Further information on the Framework is available in our previous article ‘National Building Energy Standards Framework’.1

Consultation and lobbying

There are opportunities for industry consultation and lobbying on these developments.

Submissions can be made on the Framework until 5 May 2010, as further summarised in our previous article ‘National Building Energy Standards Framework’.2

The Senate Committee review of the BEED legislation has closed submissions. However, as significant legislation requiring passage through a finely balanced Senate there may still be opportunities for political lobbying.