Think about it. No bedroom can be without its LCD tv, and no public building, train station or departure lounge is complete without a 32-inch plasma screen.
It's not all doom and gloom. While the Australian Federal Government grapples with reversing Howard's energy policies, the public and commercial sectors are working hard on their own responses.
Australia has embraced operational energy ratings for buildings - the Australian Building Greenhouse Rating scheme (ABGR). This is a star rating based on 12 months of metered energy data.
"Some major companies have publicly stated that they will only lease space in buildings with high ABGR star ratings," said Steve Hennessy of Steensen Varming's office in Sydney. "Some developers are signing commitment agreements whereby they publicly guarantee to deliver verifiable high-performing buildings."
The effect on building owners and managers has been revolutionary, says Hennessy. Where energy in buildings was once a side issue in Australia, it's now mainstream. In the UK, operational energy auditing has been put back from April to October 2008, and even then it will initially only apply to public buildings above 1000 m2. So Australia is even beating us on energy legislation. How embarrassing.
Australia, though, is still wedded to what we would call old-fashioned forms of air-conditioning like VAV. Chilled ceilings are a very recent introduction. As a consequence, the comfort setpoints in Australian office buildings stick rigorously to traditional comfort criteria. Even in thermally massive buildings it's still unthinkable for internal temperatures to rise, say, to 24 degrees C, let alone above it. Expectations might have to change.
NABERS may be the prompt. NABERS (the National Australian Built Environment Rating System) is a voluntary performance-based rating system for existing buildings. (And just in case you're wondering, yes, the pun in the name is intended. Australians...)
NABERS rates a building on the basis of its measured, operational effect on the environment. The scheme will be extended to strategic planning and sustainable fitouts as a key tool in achieving the ultimate aim: carbon neutrality. And you know, having witnessed the Australian property world's enthusiasm, I think they just might make it.
For details on Australian energy rating schemes, visit [link= http://www.nabers.com.au/faqs.aspx?site=1 caption=frequently asked questions] on the NABERS web site.
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