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01 Dec 2004Archived News Energetics in the News

PUBLISHED: Property Australia Magazine.

Environmentally sustainable development (ESD) is still a relatively new phenomenon in the property industry. The spotlight has focused predominantly on design and rating tools for new buildings, with some in the industry going so far as to say that existing buildings will be left behind. But one energy and environmental consultancy believes the environmental challenge posed on older buildings also represents an opportunity.

Energetics' northern regional manager, Tim Parker, says: "I don't think there will be that many buildings that are so obsolete they'll need to be demolished. A lot of the inefficient equipment may need to be replaced over the next 10 years or so. These types of upgrades are where a lot of the gains can be made to increase a building's environmental rating."

The company's managing partner, Tony Cooper, points to the factors of risk, economics and corporate governance as major drivers for property owners, particularly the large LPTs, to make their existing portfolios greener. "There are certainly leaders in the industry, from a risk and reputation perspective, who see clear advantage over their competitors," Cooper says. "Companies like Investa Property Group, Lend Lease and Colonial First State Property - they clearly see advantages in doing something today."

Cooper says government has been a major influencer of the ESD agenda to date, wielding power through the vast amount of space it both occupies and owns. And while the private sector is following government's lead, economics rather than social responsibility will be the primary motivator. "I think everyone in the property industry understands the economics," Cooper says. "Valuers have a big role to play when the financial drivers merge with ESD. Once valuers realise its part of their realm, there will be a bigger drive on."

Undoubtedly the recognition of the increasing importance of socially responsible investment, plus higher standards of corporate governance and triple-bottom line reporting, weigh heavily on the minds of company directors when it comes to dealing with ESD. "I think there's a risk from a disclosure perspective," Cooper says. "There are disclosure issues people are clearly being driven by."

But as Patrick Denvir, Energetics' energy and resource efficiency manager, points out, that risk is already upon the industry. "Whether it's a mandatory or a voluntary measure, some measure of carbon reporting is already a reality for the industry," Denvir says. "It's already having an impact. There's probably a fair amount of the property industry committed, one way or another, to that kind of reporting."

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