Over $44 million of energy efficiency improvements have been realised in just four years, according to an independent review of the Federal Government’s Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) program.

In a development that has been welcomed by the industry, the Federal Government has announced that it will continue its CBD program – with a few improvements that will open the program up to more commercial office buildings.

The review of the CBD program revealed that improvements in base building energy performance, as measured by the building’s NABERS rating, has delivered cumulative benefits of $44 million between 2010 and 2014 – well in excess of the program’s costs.

It also found a reduction in end-use energy consumption of 10,020 TJ and greenhouse gas emissions of 2,051 km of CO2 equivalent (ktCO2-e) over the period from 2010 to 2023.

The review of the CBD program also identified two enhancements that would improve its efficacy:

Lowering the threshold for mandatory disclosure of energy efficiency information on buildings from 2,000 sqm to 1,000 sqm to capture smaller office buildings extending the length of time an office lighting assessment is valid from one to five years. Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) Chief Executive Romilly Madew said the first change is particularly important, as it would open opportunities for greater energy efficiency in the mid-tier commercial buildings sector.

“There are an estimated 80,000 mid-tier commercial office buildings around Australia, but this sector has traditionally lagged behind in energy efficiency upgrades.

“Lowering the threshold for mandatory disclosure will prompt many building owners to explore the range of services, resources and technologies that can deliver building upgrades, often at relatively low cost, with attractive payback periods.”

Ms Madew said the review demonstrated why tackling energy efficiency in commercial office buildings is a “smart solution to climate change”.

“The GBCA has always been a strong supporter of the CBD program, which has proven to be a critical driver in unlocking the emissions reduction potential of our buildings while raising awareness of building energy performance among building occupants, delivering cost savings and creating jobs,” Ms Madew said The GBCA released a report late last year, which outlined barriers and opportunities to improve energy efficiency in mid-tier commercial office building – with split incentives as well as a lack of skills and expertise identified as obstacles that were preventing the widespread adoption of energy efficiency measures.