Robyn Parker

14 May 2012 – The NSW Government has announced a program to retrofit 150 of its buildings for energy efficiency with projected annual savings of $5.8 million.

Among the properties to be included are:  The NSW Police Academy at Goulburn, Westmead Hospital, and fire, police and ambulance stations (14 of these in the Illawarra).

The move, announced last week NSW Minister for the Environment Robyn Parker, preceded a similar investment, of $6.9 million, announced by on Monday the City of Sydney for energy and water retrofits over 45 buildings, estimated to produce yearly savings of $1 million.

A spokesman for the minister said the big disparity in expected energy savings between the two programs, despite a similar investments  is because the state’s program will include major facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes which are large energy consumers and therefore capable of producing major savings.

A lighting overhaul at Westmead Hospital will save $600,000 on power bills a year, while the energy upgrade at the NSW Police Academy at Goulburn is set to cut energy use by 30 per cent, saving $240,000 on bills a year.

The program would be rolled out by local consultants and take “as long as it takes”, the spokesman said.

Ms  Parker said the Government Building Retrofit Program will save almost 30,000 megawatt hours of electricity.

“Like everyone, the NSW government is facing major power price rises,” Ms Parker said.

“We currently spend more than $200 million a year on electricity bills and that figure will more than double to about $420 million over the next decade with no action.”

About 100 of the buildings in the program will be small – including courthouses, motor registries, fire, ambulance and police stations and disability care facilities.

An agreement with the Ambulance of NSW paved the way for upgrades in 27 ambulance stations in the Hunter and Illawarra, Ms Parker said.

Other buildings to be included were 28 fire stations, two courthouses, 18 police stations, 28 regional hospitals, five motor registries, eight train stations and one correctional centre.

Ms Parker said the retrofits would involve simple measures that “any household or business could do to improve efficiency, like upgrading hot water systems and lighting and installing water efficient fixtures and fittings.”

The move was welcomed by the Green Building Council of Australia as a show of leadership.

“However, more can be done,” GBCA executive director – advocacy and business services, Robin Mellon.

“We would like to see the NSW government look beyond energy efficiency, as environmentally-sustainable buildings also encompass other factors including water, waste and indoor environment quality.

“By looking holistically at each building, the NSW Government can provide better economic, social and environmental outcomes for the state.

He encouraged the state government to seek Green Star certification for building retrofits.

“Other states including South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania have registered public sector projects, such as hospitals and schools, for Green Star ratings, and we call on the NSW Government to follow in these footsteps,” Mr Mellon said.