Only installing the state of the art energy saving technologies in a building is not enough without a way to monitor, analysis and come up with strategies on how to tweak every little component of that system. Much like cars, they come with stock components and settings, and it’s up to the end user to enhance or tweak the features to suit their own needs. Buildings are no different.
Usually, the first upgrade an old building can receive is a metering system which monitors everything from electrical circuits, hydraulic lines to gas supplies. Being able collect data on energy usage allows complete control over how the building should operate. This data can also be used to pinpoint areas of potential risk allowing management to address the problem before it arises.
Having all this data centralised and readily accessible via tablet apps just made it even more efficient as building managers no longer need to be on site to respond and assess. It’s a bit like playing a game and analysing every little bit of your replay so you can identify exactly what areas needs improving or how a a certain strategy needs to be implemented. The fact that data is transmitted from the meters every 30minutes makes real-time opportunity analysis possible.
To add further incentive to upgrading existing buildings, it is government policy that only buildings with energy ratings of 4.5 stars and above will be considered for occupation. This is a fairly attractive incentive for landlords as government tenants are warmly welcomed because of their on-time rent payments.
Carolyn illustrated that commercial office spaces with ratings 3 above experienced greater occupancy rates as more and more tenants see the benefits of high performance buildings. However, I beg to differ. Looking at the Vacany by NABERS Energy Rating graph we can clearly see that buildings in the 1.5, 2 and 2.5 Star category receive just as much occupancy as 4/5 Star buildings.
I believe that this is due to the lower rent charged for buildings on the lower end of the scale which still are favourable solutions to many low-mid range businesses. My thoughts are that the challenge is actually how to convince owners of these old 1.5, 2 and 2.5 Star buildings to pursue building upgrades since pay-offs from their investments may take longer periods compared to newer buildings.
I feel that this should be the focus of the government in bringing underrated buildings up to a nation-wide standard. Because as for the time being, there will always be more old commercial buildings still in service compared to newly constructed, and therefore would contribute a greater share towards our City’s environmental goals.