Matthew Clark

6 May 2011 – Matthew Clark former manager of the NABERS building performance rating program for the NSW government is on the lookout for a new manager to replace him after his move to a more senior position.

But be warned: the job will be demanding. Not only has there been a deluge of energy assessments that have come with the commercial building disclosure program, but there is also a range of new programs in the wings.

This include the revolutionary environmental upgrade agreements that will enable owners of commercial buildings and – importantly strata residential buildings – to undertake greening programs with finance repayments tied to council rates.

According to Clarke this will be a breakthrough program that won’t be subject to the vagaries of the political system since it will rely on private agreements and private funding by financiers, secure in the knowledge that their repayments will come as part of the compulsory rates payments to local councils. This will mean that the green loan will rank ahead of mortgagees should the property go into receivership.

For strata property owners the door will finally open on cheaper funding and long-term loans so that upgrade work will no longer be tied to whatever amount strata owners can fork out in upfront levies.

Clark who is now director of energy and water programs in the Office of Environment and Heritage, will have an overall managerial role over the NABERS team as well as new responsibility for sustainable government policy such as retrofits for government buildings, and energy and water efficiency for industry.

He says the new NABERS boss will also need to be prepared for an expanding role.

“There is a lot happening…a lot in general, with NABERS and with other national programs kicking off in the near future.

“NABERS is moving forward in leaps and bounds.

“We’re rating a phenomenal amount of properties – 1000  the past six months.

“It’s an amazing response to the commercial building disclosure program and I think, largely driven by that. But people have been proactively getting ratings before they are forced to by the CBD.

“People now have a better understanding of how their buildings are performing.”

According to Clark the team has grow in size and capability since he started 10 years ago.

“Demand has been growing year on year and yet we’ve managed to make our processes more streamlined so we’re getting ratings done more quickly – 95 per cent within two weeks.

“It’s a great team.”

Additional roles the team is already dealing with include household water and energy efficiency for the home power savings program and the rebate programs for hot water systems and tanks (yes there are some left).

Home power program has a budget of $63 million over several years to assist about 220,000 low income households with energy and water savings.

Work has already started on the environmental upgrade agreements.  Legislation for this has been passed and the next tranche of the program is to create frameworks with councils. City of Sydney, Parramatta and North Sydney, with possibly Willoughby and Ryde could be first cabs off the rank, Clark says, with the smaller councils interested, but waiting in the wings for agreements to be developed by the bigger councils first.

He expects the first programs could be in place by the end of this year.

With this type of workbook the department is vastly different to when Clark started 10 years ago. Then, the energy efficiency program was known as the Australian Building Greenhouse Rating Scheme, or ABGR, with all ratings undertaken in-house. He joined ABGR manger Sue Salmon to develop the assessor program, which made assessment a market-based function.

Today the team numbers 20 people.

Clark says he is sympathetic to the constant scrutiny NABERS seems to attract. (See our coverage of this)

“We know it’s a program that is deeply embedded in commercial property and we understand why people would be passionate about which direction it will go in because it can add a lot of value to their properties.

“So we want to be responsive and work through their concerns about any issues they have.”

Add pragmatic and political nous to the job spec.

See our posting on the job

– By Tina Perinotto

The Fifth Estate – sustainable property and green building news

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