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RE: LEED / green buildings

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Interesting. The Australian Building Codes board keeps referring to LEED, as something of a bench mark, to increase the energy efficiency and sustainability requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The BCA is revised every year, so they can slowly increase things each year.

 

But most recent bulletin has highlighted the obvious, most buildings exist already, therefore cannot achieve national goals for energy reduction by increasing energy efficiency requirements on new buildings. They are now pushing for mandatory disclosure of energy efficiency of a building at point of sale/re-sale by 2011. They are starting with the operational energy efficiency of the building, then expecting to add in more issues to do with sustainability, life cycle analysis and environmental foot print at later stage.

 

It suggests a requirement for a more comprehensive technical specification, product disclosure statement (PDS), for sale of all existing buildings. Which may lead to problems selling buildings, and increased number of buildings being demolished: since impractical to bring into compliance with new codes. It may curtail property speculation, and escalating house prices, in some markets. Alternatively could just be a worthless piece of paper no one pays any attention to.

 

But there is a sector of the population who does seek fuel efficient vehicles, and energy efficient appliances, like refrigerators and washing machines. So maybe buyers can exert pressure for more energy efficient buildings, if they have the information with which to make the decisions. Instead of sellers renovating the kitchen and bathrooms, to increase sale price, maybe they will place emphasis on energy efficiency and general performance measured against current BCA. The SA development Act can impose a requirement for certain critical upgrading of a building before granting permission for other renovations. For example apply to get approval for a verandah, and verandah not approved until house upgraded to meet current bushfire requirements.

 

Also the SA Occupational health safety and welfare act, more or less imposes the current version of the BCA on all workspaces. Thus the BCA requirements at the time the building was granted permission for construction, is largely irrelevant to the continued operation of the building as a workspace. If building owners have to provide a PDS at point of sale/lease, produced by an independent authority, then maybe owners of industrial/commercial buildings will give more attention to value of the building as an industrial resource: rather than simply as space to lease.

 

People tend to look for technical specifications for most other technical products, and feature comparison lists, but houses and other buildings seem to be selected on basis of floor plan and visual appearance: rather than performance, not even performance of floor plan as work space.

 

With a PDS which indicates a building doesn’t comply with current structural provisions, then a mandatory requirement for structural upgrade could bring about a more energy efficient building. For example building stripped back to add extra tie down and bracing: providing access to insulate walls and otherwise modify style and location of windows. May be it will be beneficial after the initial upset and chaos generated has settled down.

 

 

Regards

Conrad Harrison

B.Tech (mfg & mech), MIIE, gradTIEAust

mailto:sch.tectonic(--nospam--at)bigpond.com

Adelaide

South Australia