Greg Johnson

Some tenants are wonderful – they care about energy efficiency and the overall sustainability of their workplace. They might even choose to obtain a NABERS rating. But others are not so good. Here is what Mad Men for the Planet NABERS workshop attendee Greg Johnson said about the challenge from his point of view.

A huge opportunity to engage tenants to pay attention to energy efficiency is about to emerge when energy prices “go through the roof” following the closure of Victoria’s Hazelwood power station.

Greg Johnston, national sustainability manager commercial property at Stockland, said the price rises would vary depending on location and state but anywhere from 15 to 30 per cent – for off-peak it would be even greater.

“Our power in certain states is just going to go through the roof because we are coming off a fairly competitive pricing arrangement now,” he told The Fifth Estate in an article to follow up how to better engage tenants in creating more sustainable tenancies.

“We’re going to get hit by really big price increases and that’s a lot to do with Hazelwood closing. I think tenants will also get a bit of a rude shock.”

Johnson said tenants could pay a bit more attention to their own energy consumption as an occupant of their building to reduce the price hike.

“Building owners have done all the heavily lifting for a long time with energy efficiency and all the talk has been about what building owners can do, but tenants in the building use about half the total power consumed by the building,” he said.

“If you’ve got a tenant who’s not motivated and they don’t do anything then they’re not playing their part, so I’ve always felt that there should be a little more attention given to tenants in a more assertive way.”

According to Johnson, Stockland has tried to engage tenants in the past with limited success.

“We’ve had tenant information evenings for offices but there were usually fairly poorly attended so we stopped doing it and it’s even more of a challenge in retail,” he said. “We tend to focus on the base building and live in a little bubble somewhat and not necessarily engage tenants.”

There is a cohort of tenants who are engaged and awake to energy efficiency and, according to Johnson, they’re the ones who are usually signed up to CitySwitch.

“I think the opportunity is huge,” he said.

“There is a big proportion of the total tenant market or occupant market that are not doing anything. I’ve always thought the other laggards need a bit of a nudge.”

Johnson said he personally supported mandatory disclosure of NABERS tenancy ratings.

“This is my view, not Stockland’s view, but personally, I think yes, because if they did [have mandatory disclosure] you could turn that into a positive thing then use that as a light on the hill, and that would give tenants something to aspire to in terms of how they might improve.

“They could get some sense of, ‘Wow, a one-star tenancy rating that means we’re paying a lot for electricity. Maybe we could save money on electricity and improve our NABERS rating by doing a few initiatives.’

“You could be creative – there might be a bit of a competition going on. Tenants might say, ‘Well we’ve got a five star’ and ‘We’ve got a  four star’ – there might be a bit of a competition between them to see who can do better.”

Johnson said NABERS provided an ideal opportunity for tenants to set targets for themselves.

“It’s an industry-recognised rating scheme so you know it has credibility; it normalises for climate so it’s a level playing field. You’ve got all those enablers there that at the end of the day give you something that you know you can improve if you take action.”

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