A new wave of energy management technologies is currently sweeping the market. Whilst consumers are becoming more aware of the need to manage their power usage at home, environmentally responsible commercial power usage is also at the forefront of most large business planning.
Any construction which is currently on the drawing board will no doubt be subjected to a rigorous analysis in terms of its sustainability. Apart from being environmentally responsible, most businesses are acutely aware that a resource efficient building will mean lower ongoing electricity costs and increased durability.
There are many new technologies being developed to complement existing practices to create greener structures designed to reduce the impact on the environment and human health issues.
Reducing energy usage at a commercial level usually means three things:
The efficient use of energy, water and other resources.
Protecting the buildings occupants' health, whilst at the same time increasing productivity.
Reducing pollution and other environmentally degrading offshoots.
In fact, the Building Code of Australia currently contains requirements for all building classes which emphasise reducing energy usage. There are five elements to the code that impact the most.
Using more efficient construction, floors, glazing, ceiling and walls.
Improved air-conditioning, heating and ventilation systems.
Introducing better power controls and lighting types.
Dramatically improved hot water systems, spas and swimming pools.
State-of-the-art monitoring systems which provide alerts about possible problems.
It is anticipated that the reduction in energy usage by the introduction of these new standards will have a dramatic impact. Although there were initial concerns about the added costs which these new standards will mean, the latest research indicates that building owners will experience a two for one return on investment by virtue of reduced ongoing energy costs. Furthermore, the new building code for commercial buildings is reported to have the potential to reduce the commercial sector's greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.
But what about existing buildings?
From 1 November 2010, large commercial office building owners will be required to provide energy information to potential buyers or lessees. This compulsory disclosure is meant to drive owners to introduce whatever energy reduction methods they can to make their building not only more energy-efficient, what also more attractive to potential buyers.
In this way organisations that have set energy reduction targets in their own organisation will be able to judge how a prospective building purchase will fit in with their plans.
From 31 October 2011, there will be increased reporting requirements meaning that star ratings for energy efficiency will be introduced along with more detailed assessments of energy usage.
In an effort to reduce the impact of these new requirements on existing building owners, the government has introduced incentives. Any business that installs an eligible small-scale solar photovoltaic, wind or hydroelectric system may be eligible to receive credits.
More than $2.75 billion has been set aside under the Climate Change Action Fund to assist many energy management initiatives.