26 November 2010 – The federal government’s Australian Carbon Trust on Friday announced funding and strategic partnerships that could leverage up to $300 million of energy and other efficiency measures for the property sector in the next few years.

Key beneficiaries of $23.7 in initial funding to develop the programs are  Eureka Funds Management, NAB, Origin Energy, Alleasing,  Australia Post and Melbourne City Council.

At the same time the NSW Parliament on Thursday passed a bill similar to Victoria’s new legislation that enables loans to property for environmental purposes to be repaid through council charges, and secured ahead of mortgages. (See our separate story)

If other states and territories follow suit, the move could signal a revolutionary shift in the ability to tackle inefficient existing buildings.

Eureka executive director Niall McCarthy told The Fifth Estate on Friday that his organisation would join with National Australia Bank and the Carbon Trust to fund commercial property energy efficiency projects for up to $200 million over the next two years.

He said that the legislation recently enacted in Victoria and on Thursday in NSW  meant the potential could lead to similar schemes throughout the country.

“Now it’s a much bigger program [than in Melbourne alone] because the NSW legislation is state wide and we understand Brisbane City Council also wants to talk to us about the same mechanism.”

Niall McCarthy

Mr McCarthy said the program would kick off in Melbourne.

“A building owner would initially make an application through the Melbourne City Council,” Mr McCarthy  said. “The applications would initially go through the MCC because they are further down the track.

“The scope of work will need to comply with environmental upgrade standards. Painting and flash carpets aren’t going to be considered.”

Eureka would manage the new trust and the capital would be provided by NAB.

But this was just one part of today’s announcement.

“We will ultimately go national with this fund, as long as the legislation is there to do it,” Mr McCarthy said.

It may  eventually seek capital from more third parties, he said.

So far there have been a number of applications, involving 8-10 buildings and amounts of between $3 million to $20 million, Mr McCarthy said.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet said, “This is the first set of agreements with the Australian Carbon Trust under its Energy Efficiency Program for financing energy efficiency projects throughout commercial buildings across Australia.

“These programs will leverage significant private sector finance to achieve cost-effective energy efficiency improvements for Australian businesses both large and small,” he said.

Mr Combet said the level of interest in the Energy Efficiency Program was reflected in the Australian Carbon Trust receiving more than 140 applications to participate from Australian businesses and the public sector.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Carbon Trust said other strategic alliances would include with Australia Post, which would develop ideas for a “pipeline of projects” that would bring energy efficiency options to small local businesses.

Other alliances were with Origin Energy, to deliver up to 12.7 million for an energy savings program to accelerate the uptake of energy efficiency equipment and services across Australia, and with Allleasing, which leases energy efficient equipment.

These investment projects are the first to be announced under Australian Carbon Trust’s Energy Efficiency Program. Australian Carbon Trust is an independent company set up by the Australian Government in 2010, with $100 million funding to help accelerate Australia’s move to a low carbon economy.

A media statement from the Australian Carbon Trust, chairman Robert Hill, said the set of agreements were to develop strategic alliances and a flow of new financing for energy efficiency projects in commercial buildings across Australia.

Professor Hill said the programs announced today would leverage private sector funding to make available “over $300 million in new financing for Australian businesses, large and small to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings.”

Australian Carbon Trust is an independent company set up by the Australian Government in 2010, with $100 million funding to help accelerate Australia’s move to a low carbon economy, Professor Hill said.

The projects announced are:

  • NAB, Eureka Funds Management and Australian Carbon Trust will develop and deliver an Environmental Upgrade Loan program anticipated to grow to over $200 million over the next two years for the energy efficiency retrofit of non-residential buildings, initially starting in Melbourne as part of the $2 billion City of Melbourne 1200 Buildings program.
  • Alleasing and Australian Carbon Trust will create a strategic relationship to bring to market a new equipment lease financing product called The Energy Efficiency Equipment Lease. This initiative will provide up to $100 million in funds dedicated to financing the retrofit of commercial buildings across Australia with energy efficient equipment.
  • Origin Energy and Australian Carbon Trust will deliver up to $12.7 million for an energy savings program to accelerate the uptake of energy efficiency equipment and services by businesses across Australia.
  • Australia Post and Australia Carbon Trust will form a strategic alliance to communicate the benefits of energy efficiency to the wider community through the extensive Australia Post network. They will work together to develop a pipeline of energy efficiency projects in Australia Post facilities that achieve energy efficiency improvements as demonstration projects, providing opportunities for wider adoption across business and the community sector.
  • Australian Carbon Trust will provide funding and support totalling $200,000 to Melbourne City Council to assist the City of Melbourne 1200 Buildings program through the creation of an online toolkit to be used by Australian building owners and tenants when evaluating the energy and carbon savings of retrofits of their buildings.

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