Will Deague

22 December 2011 – Melbourne property investor Will Deague says that when his family investment company Asia Pacific Property Group decided to embark on a major energy efficiency upgrade of a major asset in South Melbourne, it hadn’t heard about environmental upgrade agreements.

Thanks to an energy efficiency consultant, the company now has a $3.2 million loan through the City of Melbourne and its Sustainable Melbourne Fund to retrofit four of the five buildings at the Kings Technology Park in Dorcas Street South Melbourne.

The work, which is almost completed, extends over 31,000 square metres of office space, with 52 tenants, in spaces ranging from 200 sq m to 3000 sq m.

“We’re spending just shy of $4 million in mainly airconditioning and downlights – LEDs [light emitting diodes] – and new chillers with new programming systems.

Deague says the complex has also provided smart cars for use by tenants on a rental basis and installed two 20,000 litre water tanks.

Deague says the motivation to undertake the loan and the work came directly from the advice of the consultant. Prior to this his company did not know much about Sustainable Melbourne Fund or the Melbourne 1200 Buildings program.

“We needed some upgrading so we looked at where the majority of savings would be. And we thought that would be in the airconditioning and the lighting.

But with 52 tenants to deal with over the complex and the need for an additional $500,000 investment direct from the owners, Deague says his company will pay back the loan itself until the savings to tenants can be worked out.

“We will just wear the cost ourselves. It’s for the NABERS rating and hopefully that increases the value of our buildings. Eventually we should be able to get more rent.”

But even so he says: “It’s a wise thing to do for the building and for the NABERS rating.

“We’ve spoke to valuers, we’ve seen the uplift in values. And big corporates are almost insisting on seeing what you are doing for the environment.”

Tenants in the Kings Technology Park are wide ranging, from one company involved in the wind turbine industry to a retirement village operator, a financier and technology firm.

Throughout, Deague has found they have been co-operative with issues such as temporary shut down of airconditioning systems.

“There have been issues, but when we explain that it’s for a green building, they’ve been accommodating and they’ve seen they will get power savings.”

The company also owns three Art Series hotels and 880 student rooms in Bell City, Preston.

– By Tina Perinotto

The Fifth Estate – sustainable property news and forum