Building owners are reminded that they may be able to take advantage of the various new amendments to the Building Energy Efficiency regime, due to become operational on 1 July 2015.
As described in a previous edition of the Energy Market Update, 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. A BEEC was also required prior to advertising the space on the market.
The intention of the BEEC obligation was to ensure that prospective buyers and tenants are able to take into account the costs and other factors associated with the energy efficiency of the premises when making a purchase or leasing decision.
The Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Amendment Act 2015 (Cth) (the Amendment) will, from 1 July 2015 simplify the certification process and reduce some of the regulatory burdens on building owners and landlords.
The current legislative framework requires that when an owner or a lessor receives an unsolicited offer they must obtain a BEEC before engaging in any negotiations. One of the main changes brought about by the Amendments and associated Regulation 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. Broadly, an “unsolicited offer” may be circumstances where the building owner has not, during the preceding six months, advertised the building for sale or lease or made an offer to (or invited an offer from) the relevant person. However as there may be some ambiguities in relation to what an ‘unsolicited offer’ is, building owners and landlords should maintain auditable records in relation to those buildings or areas that have been the subject of any sale advertising or negotiations for sale or tenancy.
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.