The independent review of the Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) program has proposed the reduction of mandatory reporting dimensions in order to expand the scope of the scheme to encompass mid-tier office properties.

The independent review released by Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg at the beginning of February found that improvements to building energy efficiency spurred by the scheme achieved between 2010 to 2014 resulted in as much as $44 million in benefits – an amount far surpassing the program’s cost.

These efficiency gains served to significantly diminish the carbon footprint of Australian office buildings, achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of 2,051 kilotonnes of CO2-equivalent during the period from 2010 to 2023.

The CBD program was first launched in 2010, and requires that data on energy efficiency be supplied for transactions involving commercial office space of 2000 square metres or more, with a view to shoring up the sustainability of large-scale office buildings by ensuring that market participants are better apprised of their efficiency performance.

Under the program most sellers or lessors of office properties whose dimensions are 2000 square metres or greater must obtain a Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC) prior to putting their buildings on the market.

In addition to confirming the benefits brought by mandatory efficiency disclosure the review also proposed two key enhancements program- the first being to expand its scope by halving the required building dimensions from 2000 square metres to 1000 square metres, thus netting many far smaller buildings.

This amendment could have profound implications for the energy efficiency of Australia’s sizeable mid-tier commercial property sector, comprised of an estimated 80,000 buildings around the country.

The second proposed enhancement will be to extend the valid period of an office lighting assessment from one to five years.

According to Josh Frydenberg the addition of these two enhancements to the program could bring approximately $60 million in benefits to Australian consumers over the next three years.

Members of the sustainability sector have hailed the findings of the independent review, particularly following trepidations that it would be used by the Coalition to undermine the program.

Romilly Madew, CEO of the Green Building Council of Australia, said the findings of the review further vindicated the effectiveness of the CBD program.

“The review demonstrates why tackling energy efficiency in commercial office buildings is a smart solution to climate change – one that can be done at a minimal cost to industry and the tax payer,” said Madew.

“Expanding the program to include more buildings will help the AustralianGovernment’s target of increasing Australia’s energy productivity by 40 per cent by 2030,”