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Commercial

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Buildings AliveBuildings Alive helps you extract the hidden value from your building or facilities without major capital investment.

Your commercial buildings – offices, shopping centres or major institutional facilities such as a university or laboratories – might harbour some very attractive financial value that’s not readily in view.

According to Buildings Alive, there are considerable – and often hidden – energy and water savings that could unlock a good chunk of these latent financial benefits at a fraction of the cost of an onsite solar array or other major capital improvement.

The Buildings Alive team has spent a decade creating tools designed to arm building managers with a way to optimise building energy and water performance, which could slash 25 per cent or more off utility bills.

According to company co-founder and chief executive Craig Roussac, the trick is empowering building managers with easy-to-understand data and timely feedback that responds to daily action plans.

The data sent to building managers is always easy to understand, but Roussac says the science behind it is complex.

The modelling is created by the team’s highly skilled mathematicians and data scientists. It takes into account factors outside human control such as temperature, humidity, overnight conditions, occupancy, solar load and the day of the week and overlays the results onto strategies that the building manager selects and implements.

The results inform operational decisions so the building manager knows immediately whether tweaking the airconditioning system yesterday had the desired effect, or whether another action will yield a better result.

The methods are focused on personal and human insights, which inspires building managers to strive for a “personal best” on energy and water use on a daily basis.

Roussac can point to hundreds of complex buildings around the world that prove his company’s strategy works, all without expensive capital works. 

Contact: croussac@buildingsalive.com

Finance

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Sustainable Australia Fund Imagine if you could secure a fixed-rate, long-term loan that covers up to 100 per cent of the capital costs of onsite solar, green roofs or LED swap outs, and you could pay it back through council rates. 

This is what’s known as an environmental upgrade agreement (EUA). Through the Sustainable Australia Fund, this innovative financing model has already helped agriculture, commercial office buildings, tourism, commercial and industrial properties finance environmental upgrades in Victoria. 

With over 70 deals signed across a range of industry sectors, the plan is to expand EUAs to New South Wales, South Australia and, eventually, nationwide. 

Not only does this model reduce bank loan and equity requirements, minimise long-term financial risk, and increase short-term cashflow, but it also helps solve the dreaded split incentive problem. 

“It’s the secret sauce that puts money into the pockets of businesses today,” Sustainable Australia Fund chief executive officer Scott Bocskay says.

Over the course of a decade, the financing model has been streamlined and refined. What Bocskay describes as ”EUAs 2.0” now comes in three different loan products to make them easier for different customers to navigate: Solar FUND (for solar and battery projects); Upgrade FUND (for other environmental upgrades); and Capital FUND (for environmental components of a repositioned asset).

“A farmer in Gippsland is not interested in how the model works in the CBD of Melbourne, so we created a product that works for each type of business.”

With a $200 million financing partnership secured with customer-owned Bank Australia, the Sustainable Australia Fund is open for business and ready to help you build a rock-solid business case for your next environmental upgrade or retrofit.

Apartments

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Strata AnswersStrata Answers is there to help improve the way strata committees are organised, their communication and planning so that the entire building can improve its performance and at the same time bring down the cost of onerous special levies.

A well managed strata building “gives the building an ethos and people can buy into that,” according to Tonja Gibson, founding director.

“When you look at the tremendous success of the Nightingale model, much of the success is in having a clear ethos and plan for the future. It also gives the strata committee clear continuity for years ahead and clarity in budgeting for future utilities and capital expenditure.” Nightingale Housing is based on a community model of apartment living: it’s more sustainable and pretty much gets rid of the need for a conventional developer, so that the community drives the outcomes they want.

Strata Answers has a strong track-record, including work with Sydney Water’s Water Fix program that has seen bill savings of up to 45 per cent. 

Strata Answers is currently looking for a building to pilot performance improvements and demonstrate the benefits.
Smart Green Apartments program – SydneyCity of Sydney‘s Smart Green Apartments program launched in 2016 with the goal of making Sydney’s existing building stock become more sustainable and cost effective. Working with 20 buildings each year for 10 years, the program identifies ways to increase energy efficiency, improve waste management and water usage, and reduce overall operational costs. 

Buildings in the program receive implementation support for each recommendation and a NABERS energy and water rating on completion, among other benefits. 

Since its commencement, the free program has “helped more than 100 buildings identify average cost savings of around 35 per cent” for an average yearly saving of $57,234 for each building.

Expressions of interest for the 2019 intake has closed, but interested parties can contact the program for details about the next program intake, or else make use of these tools and resources.

Heritage

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National TrustThe National Trust is a network of eight community-based, not-for-profit organisations, working to conserve history in each of Australia’s states and territories. The organisations are concerned with all aspects of heritage, natural and cultural, tangible and intangible. 

According to the website of the peak body, the Australian Council of National Trusts (ACNT), the network collectively “owns or manages over 300 heritage places (the majority held in perpetuity), manages a volunteer workforce of 7000 while also employing about 350 people nationwide”.

Many of the venues under National Trust management hold educational programs for schools and may also be a good starting place for finding out how to restore heritage buildings.
Jean Rice Architecture Jean Rice became interested in heritage architecture early in her career, which includes 20 years with the Office of the NSW Government Architect as well as private practice. 

“I valued the past and the lessons we learn from the past. A deep understanding of place drives heritage architecture – the physical and social history and historical events that occurred there,” she says, adding that preserving heritage architecture is all about adaptive reuse. 

She has put her interest to good use with involvement in the adaptive reuse of Callan Park Mental Hospital, Eveleigh Carriage Workshops, huts in the Kosciuszko national park and buildings on Norfolk Island.
One of her strengths is examining the history of a building – “It’s like being a detective,” she says – and using that to identify constraints and opportunities that can be applied in a policy for the building’s new use that compliments the original use of the building.

Government and community bodies

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Office of the Queensland Government Architect
The Office of the Queensland Government Architect’s remit is to provide leadership and design advice to government, industry and community to create people-centred spaces for now and the future. On top of that there’s a number of initiatives to inspire and provoke the architectural community: 

QDesign 9 is all about improving urban design outcomes across Queensland
Density and Diversity Done Well Open Idea Competition gives architects the opportunity to flex their creativity muscles and break the rules to deliver ground-breaking design ideas that address the “missing middle”
Arranging and judging the Minister’s Award for Urban Design creates opportunities to showcase the work of architects that are driving the industry forward.

Other activities of the office are more in-line with what you’d expect of an independent advisory body to government, says Josephine MacLeod, principal advisor – architecture and urban design. MacLeod emphasises the office’s advice on the adaptive reuse of the Herston Medical Precinct and the design review on the Queens Wharf project.

If you are seeking some advice on the design excellence of your project in Queensland, the Office of the Queensland Government Architect is there to work with you. 

Contact: josephine.macleod@hpw.qld.gov.au
Local councils Most local councils will have information available online to help builders and property owners understand the possibilities and limitations when it comes to modifying heritage listed properties.

Here are a few links to councils, for example:
City of Sydney, NSW
City of Yarra, VIC
City of Hobart, TAS
Brisbane City Council, QLD
City of Adelaide, SA

Get in contact with your local council to find out more about planning requirements in your area. 
Tool libraries Tool libraries such as the Share Shed in Queensland, The Brunswick Tool Library in Victoria and the Inner West Tool Library in Sydney are community based organisations that share a range of building and handy work tools or equipment that many people may purchase for a one off use and then leave lying around in storage.

In Sydney, the Inner West Tool Library for instance offers to “reduce waste and increase opportunity for our members”.

For a yearly fee of $75 for adults or $50 concession, members gain access to range of tools and equipment, from drills and sewing machines to tents, marquees and more. 

Available items are listed on the library’s website where they can be easily reserved for pick up from a Petersham shed.

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