SOUTH Australian Climate Change Minister Ian Hunter last week announced the introduction of proposed legislation that aims to assist building owners with accessing loans to improve the environmental efficiency of existing commercial buildings.
The introduction to Parliament of the Local Government (Building Upgrade Agreements) Amendments Bill 2015 is part of a $1.9 million election commitment to drive investment in sustainable commercial buildings in South Australia.
"The State Government is keen to improve the environmental performance of our ageing buildings to help deliver economic and environmental outcomes," Mr Hunter said.
"With one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions coming from energy used in buildings, the need for action to improve the carbon footprint and efficiency of our existing buildings is clear.
"This makes good economic sense for building owners and occupiers, as well as businesses that can provide the clean technologies and solutions that improve building performance."
Mr Hunter said commercial building owners can have difficulty getting finance for such investments, and also struggle with a 'split-incentive' barrier in leased buildings where tenants enjoy the benefits of the upgrade, but the building owner has to bear the costs.
"The Building Upgrade Finance mechanism will allow the loan to be tied to the property, rather than the property owner, and loan repayments will be collected via a local government charge levied on the property and passed on to the financier," he said.
The draft legislation was open for consultation early last year and feedback from the property, finance and local government sectors has helped inform the Bill.
Local Government Association President Mayor David O'Loughlin said local government has been an active partner in developing the Bill.
"This voluntary finance mechanism will provide another tool in our kit bag to support our local commercial and manufacturing businesses become more efficient," Mr O'Loughlin said.
Chair of the Premier's Climate Change Council, Bruce Carter commended the State Government for acting on the Council's advice.
"Building Upgrade Finance has the potential to bring life to our ageing building stock, reduce emissions and deliver economic benefits," he said.