Changes to the Building Energy Efficiency Act

by Energy Action | Apr 09, 2015
Amendments to the Building Energy Efficiency Act 2010 (Cth), designed to reduce the regulatory burden on building owners and landlords and facilitate the removal of the requirement to provide a certificate in certain circumstances will become operational on 1 July 2015.

Amendments to the Building Energy Efficiency Act 2010 (Cth), designed to reduce the regulatory burden on building owners and landlords and facilitate the removal of the requirement to provide a certificate in certain circumstances will become operational on 1 July 2015.

The Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act (Cth) (BEED Act) came into operation 1 November 2010 and required energy efficiency information in the form of a Building Energy Efficiency Certificate (BEEC) to be provided when commercial office space of 2,000 square metres or more is offered for sale or lease. Heavy financial penalties apply for non-compliance.

The intent of the BEED Act was to improve the energy efficiency of Australia’s large office buildings by ensuring prospective buyers and tenants are able to take credible, comparable energy efficiency information into account in their market decisions.

Under the current legislative framework, when an owner or a lessor receives an unsolicited offer they are required to obtain a BEEC before engaging in any negotiations. As the party who has made an unsolicited offer has already made a market decision, energy efficiency information disclosed through a BEEC may not necessarily have a meaningful influence on that decision.

One of the main changes brought about by the Amendments to the BEED Act and associated Regulation (the Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Amendment Act 2015 (Cth)) is to create a new category of exemption from the disclosure obligation which would be available in the event of a genuine unsolicited offer being received by an owner or lessor when there is no current BEEC in place.

Other important changes the Amendment brings in are:

  • A building owner or landlord can now apply for a Certificate with a ‘start date’ later than the ‘issue date’ so that the new Certificate can be issued in advance of the expiry of the current Certificate;
  • Transactions between wholly-owned subsidiaries will be excluded from the Disclosure Obligations;
  • If a valid exemption from Disclosure Obligations already exists for a building, a new building owner or landlord will no longer be required to reapply or pay the application fee for a fresh exemption;
  • The current requirement for six pages of energy efficiency guidance text to be included on the certificate will be removed. Instead, information about improving energy efficiency for office buildings will be available online.

Changes will also be made to the registry, assessment and audit processes under the Act.

It remains to be seen whether the new exemptions and more flexible certification processes will have any repercussions for energy efficiency across Australian office buildings.

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