Warren Guymer at the recent PFA conference in Canberra

By Tina Perinotto

7 June 2011 – The Property Funds Association Inc (formerly the Australian Direct Property Investment Association) has ramped up its focus on sustainability with a range of measures for members and a submission to the federal government that urges more direct investment incentives than tax breaks.

Recent moves on more sustainable outcomes by the PFA include a joint study with the Property Institute of Australia on the financial value of green buildings and survey of members to identify roadblocks to faster sustainable transformation.

The PFA represents a broad range of investors such as unlisted funds and syndicates, which together control billions of dollars of investment, but whose members often have limited individual resources to pursue sustainability outcomes, industry sources say.

In a submission to the review of the Federal Government’s proposed Tax Breaks for Green Buildings scheme, now deferred for a year,  the PFA said the property industry needed more direct investment incentives such as the Green Buildings Fund, but also better education and awareness programs.

PFA sustainability sub-committee chair Warren Guymer said: “PFA supports an immediate extension of the successful Green Building Fund and urges the government to reallocate part of the Tax Breaks for Green Buildings funding to fill the void left by the postponement of the Tax Breaks program.

“The government can target this to industry specific areas to ensure the greatest reduction in emissions and the development of new industries and skills for Australia. Also critical to this is education and behavioural change to ensure the legacy is a lasting one.”

Mr Guymer pointed to the Victorian government’s successful Target 155 water savings education program as example of the type of scheme that could encourage behaviour change in building owners.

Mr Guymer said the PFA had embarked on a number of sustainability initiatives to assist its members. This included a joint study with the Australian Property Institute on the Australian commercial office market and the “value impact of green buildings”, an annual Profitable Sustainability in Property conference, as well as educational and forum opportunities for members to discuss relevant issues.

The PFA had also undertaken a member sustainability survey.

“The research and feedback shows that members have a strong interest in sustainable outcomes and ways in which they can improve their existing portfolios, but many see sustainability merely as a compliance matter and others don’t necessarily see the value in mitigated tax outcomes for such buildings,” Mr Guymer said.

“The community deserves more action on climate change and we urge the government to review the Tax Breaks for Green Buildings scheme.

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