3. Basics for buildings, equipment and vehicles

Energy efficiency and buildings

Green buildings attract tenants more quickly, have lower tenant turnover, command higher rents and gain reputational benefits.

When building new premises, incorporate energy-efficiency measures at the design stage. Consideration of materials, passive design, orientation and location of a building ensures taking advantage of natural surroundings and relying less on heating and cooling systems.

More expensive measures like double glazing need to be assessed for any energy savings they might bring compared to their initial cost and embodied energy [link]. Double glazing may be an unnecessary expense when energy-efficient reverse-cycle air conditioning is installed.

New buildings should comply with government standards and regulations. The National Construction Code and the Australian Building Codes Board include their handbooks and energy-efficiency requirements to help improve the standard of commercial buildings.

See Your Home and Business Victoria for energy-efficiency design tips and resources.

The National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) is a voluntary rating system with design standards that measure the energy efficiency of new buildings. Find out how to improve the energy-efficiency of buildings and achieve a higher rating.

Upgrade an existing building

If your business already owns a building or office space, there are a number of upgrades that can reduce its energy use and save money. Energy efficiency improvements can also increase the NABERS star rating, property value and attract higher rental returns if leasing the property.

Here are just a few ways to upgrade a building or office:

  • reduce heat escaping by double glazing windows and insulating walls
  • reduce draught by sealing doors and windows and installing automatic doors
  • buy energy-efficient light bulbs and install timers for lighting
  • consider more energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and use the thermostat to automate temperatures
  • larger energy users such as offices, hotels and data centres, consider systems that generate heating, cooling and power such as co-generation or tri-generation technology. Co-generation systems generate heat and power, while tri-generation systems generate heat, power and cooling.

Fuel efficiency

Switching to a fuel efficient or an alternate fuel vehicle or truck can save money and reduce greenhouse and air pollution emissions.

Fuel-efficient cars also have a higher threshold for the Luxury Car Tax and some insurers may offer discounts. Although fuel-efficient vehicles may cost more upfront, choosing a cheaper and less efficient model could end up costing more in the long term. Fuel and maintenance costs should be considered when deciding which vehicle is most suitable.

Use the GreenVehicleGuide to see how fuel efficient an existing vehicle is or to help decide on purchasing a more fuel-efficient or electric car.

Appliances, equipment and technology

Selecting the right appliances and technology for the business and using them more efficiently will help reduce energy use and improve the bottom line.

While it can be tempting to hold on to existing equipment longer, you may find that upgrading to more efficient equipment can quickly pay off.

New technologies for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, motor, lighting, pump or boiler systems are good options to consider when you trying to achieve greater energy savings.

Search the Energy Rating website to help choose the best product. The Energy Rating Label includes a star rating allowing to compare different models of common appliance types. The more stars a model has, the higher its energy efficiency.

Energy ratings and labelling requirements

Energy ratings are an important tool for comparing the energy efficiency of appliances. They set out minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) and labelling for common appliances in Australia, to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

When buying a new appliance, consider the energy rating listed on the product to help manage energy use. Download the free energy rating app to compare running costs and estimate the real cost of a product over its lifetime. Sometimes high-star rated models cost a little more upfront, but could save more over the lifetime of the product.