The City of Sydney has extended funding for the successful CitySwitch office energy efficiency program for another three years as it reaches 10 per cent of commercial office space across Australia.
"The commercial office building sector accounts for about half of the City of Sydney's carbon pollution and tenants are responsible for a quarter of this so CitySwitch has an important role to play in tackling climate change," Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
Recent new corporate signings have taken CitySwitch to 1.7 million square metres of commercial office space nationally, equivalent to 250 football fields and halfway towards the program's target of 20 per cent. In Sydney, the program has attracted 69 businesses, covering 712,000 square metres, representing 15 per cent of the commercial office space since 2005.
CitySwitch signatories commit to achieving 4 stars or higher on the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) for their tenancy. NABERS is an industry recognised tool used by building owners and tenants across Australia to measure and benchmark their greenhouse gas reduction performance. Star ratings go from one up to six with the average 2.5 stars.
CitySwitch was launched nationally in June 2008. By June last year, CitySwitch had verified 26,000 tonnes of carbon emission reductions, nationally, equal to taking 8,500 cars off the road. LJ Hooker and the Brisbane, Perth and ACT offices of existing signatory, international legal practice Norton Rose Australia, are among the latest additions to CitySwitch.
LJ Hooker signed up its 2,000-square-metre headquarters in Sydney, to the program, while Norton Rose Australia, already a CitySwitch signatory in Sydney and Melbourne, recently added its Perth, Brisbane and ACT offices to the program, bringing its combined representation to 25,000 square metres. Norton Rose Australia last year won the CitySwitch NSW Signatory of the Year Award for offices over 2,000 square metres after reducing carbon pollution by 214 tonnes and saving $42,000 in energy bills per year at its Sydney office.
"We've worked hard to reduce our carbon footprint and have been able to achieve real progress by committing to energy targets," Tim Shacklock, Norton Rose Australia's chief operating officer said.
LJ Hooker Chief Executive Officer Janusz Hooker said: "At LJ Hooker Corporate, we are mindful of recent data that shows buildings contribute to 40 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. We are committed to lowering the impact that our head office has on the environment."
By increasing their NABERS Energy rating from the 2.5 average to 4.5 stars, CitySwitch signatories nationally could reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 168,000 tonnes equal to taking 56,000 cars off the road. In the City of Sydney this would total carbon reductions of 52,000 tonnes per year, equal to taking 17,100 cars off the road.
For a one star NABERS energy efficiency improvement, from three to four stars, CitySwitch businesses would make a collective energy saving of $2.9 million per year.
City of Sydney Council approved $770,000 to fund a three-year continuation to 2015 of the program. A broad range of signatories - including companies, government departments, unions and charities have already signed up.
Obtaining a NABERS rating is now even more important with a new federal law requiring owners to certify their building's energy efficiency before they lease, sub-lease or sell office space greater than 2,000 square metres.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has managed the operation of the NABERS ratings throughout Australia since 2005. It is overseen by the NABERS National Steering Committee, representing the Australian, State and Territory Governments.
The City of Sydney is the national coordinator of the program, which is run in partnership with the City of Sydney, North Sydney, Parramatta, Willoughby, Ryde, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, Yarra, Port Phillip, the ACT Government and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and Sustainability Victoria.