22 July 2010 – For the owner of the building the Local Government Super it was the photo opp of a lifetime: Federal ministers Kim Carr and Maxine McKew, both corralled for the mid morning launch just days into a federal election.
The venue: the chilly rain-swept roof at Macquarie Park in Sydney’s high-tech heartland, which happens to be in John Howard’s old seat of Bennelong.
The occasion: the unveiling (so to speak) of one of the biggest solar panel installation on a commercial building, enabled and partly paid for by Labor’s $90 million Green Building Fund.
To top it all off just the day before (on Tuesday) Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said that if it got into the power the Coalition would scrap the Green Building Fund.
You can guess the media posse that turned up.
The cuts to the $90 million Green Building Fund (See our latest round up on this) designed specifically to help to retrofit existing buildings, were “disappointing”, said Mr Carr, Federal Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.
The GBF had helped save 158,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year and now a remaining part of that fund it was announced this week would be used for 195 grants to help building owners better understand how to reduce emissions from their portfolios, Mr Carr said.
“This is an electorate that sums up what the portfolio does – in terms of innovation and industry, science and research.
“So when people talk of cuts to programs which will be painless, which are really are just about reducing the work for government, I get a bit disappointed because they miss the point; they miss the point entirely – it’s about building a partnership to allow companies to take advantages of the new technology to ensure we can make the big changes this country need.”
Mr Abbott had also announced cuts to Enterprise Connect – a move that Mr Carr said “strikes me as an extraordinary backward approach.”
Ms McKew, member for Bennelong [John Howard’s old seat] and Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure, was also unimpressed.
“This is area full of companies that don’t want to go backwards,” she said.
Medical companies, technical companies and others involved in high tech pursuit could with the government as apartner retrofit their buildings and have and save “huge energy costs” Ms McKew said.
Also taking a few minutes at the microphone was Wayne Ryan, director of the Shaw Method of Air Conditioning, or SMAC, Technologies, whose unique airconditioning system has been installed at the building and also at LGS’s office building at 76 Berry Street North Sydney.
Mr Shaw, a long term feisty campaigner to have this Australian technology accepted by building engineers, was a little more forthright.
“I was somewhat disgusted with the cancelling of the Green Building Fund,” Mr Ryan said.
“Obviously owning the technology associated with this building I am absolutely positive that an opportunity like …this would not have occurred if money had not been made available through the green building fund.”
For a full story on the sustainable makeover of the LGS NSW portfolio see here
For announcement that the Victorian government would now provide feed in tariffs for large scale solar power, including shopping centres and other commercial buildings, see here
The Fifth Estate – We can’t wait for the future