Greener, sustainable buildings

The building industry in Australia is undergoing a remarkable transformation with the highly successful NABERS rating system for cleaner, greener buildings being introduced for all residential apartment buildings too.

From June 2018, residential buildings will be able to obtain a NABERS For Apartment Buildings audit which will measure the energy efficiency of the building and award a ‘star’ based rating. A high rating can translate to immediate and long-term benefits via reduced insurance premiums and increased property values. Alternatively, a low star rating provides a baseline on which energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives can be justified and implemented.

This initiative is fully supported by PICA Group, and we have been heavily involved with NABERS by providing benchmarking data for the entire state of Queensland, participation in the stakeholders workshops and most recently, nominating some our managed buildings to participate in the rating tool testing. PICA Group is committed projects such as NABERS to ensure that the buildings we manage are as green and energy efficient as possible to deliver the best possible service to our residents and owners, as well as conserving resources and helping the environment.

Our commitment to this was further emphasised by the recent appointment of Tim Jarvis as our Corporate Ambassador – Sustainability. One of Tim’s key roles is to assist in our engagement with Industry and Governmental agencies for policy change for the built environment.

Large buildings are serious offenders when it comes to a city’s carbon footprint, with around 30% of a typical city’s carbon footprint taken up by such buildings, due to their high concentration of heating, lighting, and air conditioning.

Because PICA Group has such a huge network of over 11,000 buildings, we feel it is imperative for us to be involved in developing and maintaining smarter buildings. Furthermore, now that is more affordable to use renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, the return on investment makes it a much more feasible undertaking, and there are now a number of ways in which you can make a building perform much more efficiently. This also applies to older buildings as well as new builds.

The energy costs savings we are seeing are very significant. For example, in the Smart Green Apartments initiative run by the City of Sydney council last year, the average energy saving experienced by participating buildings was $57,000 per annum. That is a lot of money to a strata committee that has to manage funds to meet ongoing building maintenance and repair costs.

Another aspect to this is that if asset management is not done properly, the cost of capital works to rectify issues within buildings can quickly escalate and become unaffordable for its residents, so by saving large sums of money on energy costs, much needed funds can be diverted into making sure that any structural issues can be identified and dealt with at the earliest opportunity, saving the strata committee more money and helping to ensure the future viability of the building.   

For us at PICA Group, building compliance and sustainability go hand in hand, and we help the buildings we manage to reduce their energy consumption in a sustainable way, as well as help them to manage their assets so that they do not end up being faced with high maintenance costs, or even building failure, but rather the building continues to appreciate in value.

Building committees typically consists of volunteers with little or no real expertise in this area, so they need all the help they can get and we are always there to provide them with it.

Part of how we do this will be through our dedicated cloud-based self-service platform, which will manage assets, schedules maintenance, manage OH&S compliance requirements, and so on, enabling our strata managers who manage the relationships with strata committees to get on with the job of doing so and be free from the paperwork associated with these tasks.

This will also enable us to stay abreast of the constant wave of changes to strata laws and help all our buildings to stay compliant with new regulations.

As people continue to move closer to the city and urban centres, we aim to be at the forefront of driving the culture of energy efficiency and greener living in apartment developments and strata schemes.