Sustainability is now an immediate priority for most property investors, according to a Jones Lang LaSalle survey of investors.
A majority of respondents (57%) saw sustainability as being an issue within the next 12 months. Last year a majority (76%) saw it as an issue that would be critical in up in five years.
Almost a third of investors (29%) said they would pay more for a building with sustainability potential.
A big issue for owners is tenant expectations. “Tenants are the major drivers of green issues in Australia currently, but owners are increasingly taking the lead on working with occupiers to achieve sustainability outcomes,” says Jones Lang LaSalle national director of sustainability and engineering services Chris Wallbank.
Achieving Australian Building Greenhouse Rating (ABGR) and Green star ratings is now seen as more important.
The cost of attaining six-star environmental efficiency is expensive, but for tenants it keeps down ongoing running costs and there is evidence that staff productivity is higher because of lower levels of illness and absenteeism.
Council House 2, the office for 540 City of Melbourne council staff, is reportedly the first new building in Australia to receive a six-star Green star rating for design from the Green Building Council of Australia.
It opened in August 2006 has become an international benchmark in green buildings. The building cost nearly $52 million, including $11.3 million for its sustainability features.
The City of Melbourne is about to release an audit that reportedly will say that the building design, particularly the flow of 100% fresh air throughout the building, has increased staff productivity by 8% to 10%, saving the council about $2 million a year. The measures will have paid for themselves in seven years.
New rules compelling big energy users to report their energy use under the Energy Efficiency Opportunities Act 2006 has also put pressure on big companies to monitor and reduce their energy use.
“The vast majority of corporates already have their sustainability strategies well underway, through there is still much work to be done before the end of 2008,” says Wallbank.