Peter Szental

If you put your prize building up for regular public monitoring, you have to be prepared for results to sometimes let you down.

At first glance that seems to be the case, according to Peter Szental, owner and developer of one of Australia’s most closely monitored buildings, the Szencorp Building in South Melbourne.

“At first glance, it appears that the building’s energy and water performance has weakened compared to our previous results. This highlights the need for diligence and continual monitoring of results to maintain the building’s performance,” he said.

When it was fully refurbished four years ago the building won several  gongs: a 6 Star Green Star rating for design, 5 Star NABERS Energy and Water performance ratings, and a 4 Star NABERS Waste performance rating, understood to be the highest waste rating awarded to date.

And the overall results this year are impressive:

  • water savings of 88 per cent (compared to the industry average as measured by NABERS water rating of 2.5 Stars)
  • energy savings of 65 per cent (compared to energy consumption prior to the building’s retrofit)
  • waste reduction of 54 per cent (compared to waste generated by the average Australian office worker)
  • top 4 per cent ranking for overall building performance in Australia (source: Building Use Studies)
  • 39 per cent of occupants cycle, walk or catch public transport to work.

However, “a number of variables have lead to increased energy and water
consumption this year,” Mr Szental said.

These include that new tenants, Closed Loop Recycling and  The Banksia Environmental Foundation, moved in in May last year and lifted the building’s occupant numbers by half, thus increasing demands on energy and water.

Another issue was that Victoria’s drought meant less rainwater was collected and reliance on mains water increased.

In the next 12 months the company plans to improve waste management and recyling lift  it NABERS waste rating from 4 to 5 Stars.

A report by Szencorp published by The Fifth Estate in May found that problems such as higher internal air temperature were forgiven by tenants in a sustainable building.

Mr Szental said the Global Financial Crisis had slowed  some of the momentum of the sustainable building sector,  but that this was now changing.

“Interest in energy efficiency is again on the rise as building owners and tenants look to reduce costs and decrease their exposure to energy prices.

“Now that the Council of Australian Governments has agreed to implement Mandatory Disclosure for buildings,
improving energy and water performance will become a major business opportunity.”

For the full report click here.

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