Melbourne gets in on the green act

By Lilia Guan
The Victorian Parliament has passed legislation to support large scale environmental retrofits of city buildings.
The City of Melbourne Act has been amended to enable Council, in partnership with Australian financial institutions, to enter into voluntary arrangements with building owners to help them obtain finance to environmentally retrofit their buildings.
A spokesperson from the City of Melbourne told Government News, the amendment will make investment in environmental retrofit projects more attractive to financial institutions and finance much more accessible to building owners.
“There’s a growing demand in the community for green buildings,” she said.
“However access to finance has been identified as a key barrier to the mass uptake of environmental retrofitting of buildings.”
According to the spokesperson the City has developed a financial mechanism to enable building owners to pay for environmental retrofitting works using funds provided to them by financial institutions.
“The repayment of these funds will be recovered by Council through a new form of statutory charge, linked to rates collection, to be called an environmental upgrade charge,” she said.
“Under an environmental upgrade charge, financial institutions will provide money to the owner on condition that the owner undertakes the agreed upgrade works.”
In exchange, the owner or occupier must pay the environmental upgrade charge to the Council and the money received by Council will be used to repay the lending body.
The Brumby Government has also granted $500,000 to the City of Melbourne to further assist in the development of its business model and program of services.
The spokesperson said independent research undertaken by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu has indicated retrofitting 1200 buildings in the municipality would achieve a 38 percent improvement in energy efficiency.
“This will create up to two billion dollars in private sector investment,” she said.
“The retrofitting is also expected to generate 8000 jobs in the process for engineers, environmental consultants, builders, surveyors and many other industry professionals.”
The 1200 Buildings Program was formally launched by the Lord Mayor on March 31, the spokesperson added.
About 39 buildings are currently signed up to the program and the program was expected to run for 10 years.

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