On this page
- How to improve your building efficiency
- Compulsory standards for refits and new buildings
- Find professional help to refit your premises
- How to check your equipment is energy and waste efficient
To improve a building's efficiency you can:
- buy energy efficient equipment e.g. a water-efficient commercial dishwasher, install the water heater near hot water taps, add flow-control valves to all taps
- add better insulation to the roof, walls, windows, and if possible, the floor
- find other ways to improve the way the building handles extremes of heat or cold (its 'thermal efficiency'). A professional thermal assessment of the planned refit could make big long-term savings. This is especially the case for buildings with high-energy use for heating or cooling e.g. an industrial kitchen cooking and then freezing large amounts of food
- install energy efficient lighting, heating or cooling e.g. make use of natural light, install energy saving globes, and where practical, use motion detectors to control lights
- install water tanks, collect solar energy, and where practical recycle water
- recycle organic waste ('composting')
- choose materials carefully, use salvaged material if possible and avoid some timbers. Keep in mind the Australian Building Code (BC 2006) now sets minimum energy efficiency ratings for new and refitted commercial buildings.
Energy efficiency is compulsory for refits and new buildings
In May 2006 the Australian building code (BCA) 2006 set compulsory standards for energy efficiency for refits and new commercial buildings e.g. artificial lighting and how well the building is sealed. If you’re refitting a commercial office building, shop or other retail building; or a wholesale building, your building permit will need to comply. Get more information about energy efficiency at Sustainability Victoria's Smarter Resources Smarter Business.
You may also find an energy efficient building will help you. A 2006 Green Building Council study found green buildings:
- use 60% less water and energy
- produce higher rents (5-10% increase)
- increase productivity, wellbeing and decrease staff turnover.
Getting professional help to build or refit an energy-efficient business premises
Your task for a new building is to find an architect or a master builder who understands how to design a practical and energy-efficient building. They will need up-to-date knowledge of materials (and perhaps equipment and appliances), as well as the BCA 2006 building code for energy efficient commercial refits and new buildings.
This is a specialist skill so contact an industry association for architects or builders or use the Green Directory. Many local councils now support sustainable building design, and the building department's section of their websites are worth checking for support.
While the Green Directory lists a multitude of eco-friendly tradespeople and materials, new specialist green industry associations are forming. Some (not all) require members stay up-to-date with new products and techniques as a condition of membership.
Green building associations include:
Finding eco-friendly and healthy building materialsThe Ecospecifier website is the Australian industry standard for products and services to help architects, designers and builders to find eco-friendly and healthy materials. It’s also a reference guide for new technologies, e.g. a new ceramic paint additive cuts heat by up to 40% when mixed with exterior paint.
Checking if your equipment is energy or water efficient
It's also worth making sure your equipment is energy efficient by doing the following:
- use the Energy Ratings website to check the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment. Includes some commercial equipment such as commercial refrigerators
- use the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme Water ratings website to check the water efficiency of appliances (domestic and commercial)
- read Sustainability Victoria's Smarter Resources Smarter Business energy efficiency best practice guides and checklists.
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