In New South Wales parties involved in the construction or management of buildings should consider the potential to obtain a credit for green house gas abatement with a NSW greenhouse Gas Abatement Certificate (NGAC). The Prime Minister's Taskforce report on a proposed national trading emission scheme did not deal with the application of the proposed scheme to the built environment. This is despite the built environment contributing about 40 per cent of all carbon emissions.
It seems unlikely that the Commonwealth Government will provide credits for green buildings however, the New South Wales Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme (GGAS) does allow for carbon credits for greenhouse gas abatement activities concerning buildings.
The first step is to obtain a baseline rating of an existing building, or portfolio of buildings, by assessment of the level of greenhouse gas emissions created in the operation of the building in accordance with the Australian Building Greenhouse Rating (ABGR) scheme.
The party liable for a building's energy consumption may then apply under GGAS to become an Accredited Abatement Certificate Provider (AACP). An ABGR rating is sufficient supporting material to become an AACP. Part of this accreditation involves 'benchmarking' the building, the purpose being that improvements to the buildings performance above this level may entitle the owner or occupier to a tradeable certificate.
The third step is to modify and improve the building, or portfolio of buildings, to improve the energy efficiency. This may be undertaken by physical renovation, framework changes that facilitate behavioural change, or a combination of both. Several entities in NSW, such as Investa, have achieved energy efficiencies by utilising green leases as the basis of abatement. Minter Ellison advised Investa concerning its green lease documentation.
Improvements in energy efficiency are then confirmed and quantified by subsequent annual ABGR assessments. To obtain an NGAC the actual ABGR rating is compared to the baseline rating for the existing building, or a 4 star ABGR rating for a new building.
Given that the contribution of the built environment to climate change was not addressed by the report of the Prime Minister's Taskforce, it seems unlikely that a Commonwealth scheme will provide credits for such abatement activities.
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