Australian laws to promote building efficiency

CANBERRA Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:22am EDT

A crane lifts building materials at a commercial building site in Sydney September 29, 2009. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

A crane lifts building materials at a commercial building site in Sydney September 29, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Tim Wimborne

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Owners of large commercial buildings in Australia will have to disclose energy efficiency information when putting buildings up for sale or lease, under laws introduced in parliament on Thursday.

Assistant Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said the laws were designed to promote energy efficiency in large commercial buildings, and will help Australia curb greenhouse gas emissions, blamed for global warming.

"Energy efficiency represents one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways we can reduce our nation's greenhouse gas emissions, and the commercial building sector has the potential to deliver some of the lowest-cost abatement," Combet said as he introduced the laws.

Energy used by Australian residential and commercial buildings accounts for around 20 percent of Australian greenhouse gas emissions. The new laws apply to buildings of 2,000 square meters (21,500 sq ft) or more.

Building owners will need a building energy efficiency certificate when they put office space up for sale or lease.

The certificates will spell out an energy efficiency rating, information about the efficiency of the lighting used and information about how energy efficiency could be improved.

Australia has set a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least five percent by 2020 from 2000 levels, and wants 20 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020.

However, the government's centerpiece plan for carbon trading to start in July 2011 remains deadlocked in parliament's upper house Senate, where it has been defeated twice and faces a third defeat in May.

Australia accounts for 1.5 percent of mankind's greenhouse emissions and is the highest per-capita carbon polluter in the developed world because of its reliance on coal for 80 percent of domestic electricity generation.

(Reporting by James Grubel; Editing by David Fogarty)

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