Changes to the Commercial Building Disclosure program have passed through the Senate this week, which the Property Council of Australia has welcomed as a reduction in red tape.

The Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Amendment Bill 2014, which passed the Senate on 12 February, included the following major changes include:

  • providing exemptions to building owners who receive unsolicited offers for the sale of office space, leading to an estimated $300,000 reduction in costs (a bills digest, however, said it was unclear how this figure was arrived at)
  • allowing transactions between wholly-owned subsidiaries to be excluded from disclosure obligations, leading to another $300,000 reduction in costs
  • permit a commencement date for a Building Energy Efficiency Certificate which is later than the date of issue
  • removing the need for new owners and lessors to reapply or pay the application fee for fresh exemptions if there is a valid one in place for a building
  • removing the requirement for six pages of standard energy efficiency guidance text on the BEEC, instead having live and interactive online information about improving energy efficiency for office buildings in its place

A government statement said the changes were in response to “requests from industry stakeholders” since the CBD program had begun.

The Property Council of Australia welcomed the decision, saying it was long overdue.

“We all benefit from better energy efficiency in our buildings and the disclosure of energy efficiency ratings is an important mechanism for achieving this,” PCA chief executive Ken Morrison said.

“However, the way the CBD scheme has been operating since its introduction in 2010 has created costly and inefficient red tape.

“Flaws in the original design of the scheme have created a major barrier to transactions for the sale and lease of office space in certain circumstances.

“We are delighted the government has now taken on board our concerns and improved the way the scheme operates.”

The amendments were supported by both major parties.

The changes are separate to a review into the CBD program’s objectives, the effectiveness of the program in promoting energy efficiency and its interaction with the Emissions Reduction Fund the government appointed ACIL Allen Consulting to conduct late last year. The review will be handed to the minister for industry by March 2015, and if significant policy change is to be effected as a result, it is presumed further legislation will be required.

The expected commencement date for the approved changes is 1 July 2015.