1200 buildings and counting....

UrbanMelbourne.info will always be on the look out for, and champion policies or initiatives by business' and government's alike that promote sustainability and efficient energy use. The City of Melbourne has been proactive in encouraging a host of initiatives with the aim of making Melbourne a more sustainable place to live and work.

One Council initiative of particular interest is the 1200 Buildings program which aims to encourage and support building owners and managers in order to improve energy and water efficiency whilst also reducing waste to landfill from commercial buildings within the municipality of Melbourne. The 1200 buildings initiative is part of an overriding strategy to make the City of Melbourne a carbon neutral municipality by the year 2020.  

Under the program, Council wants to environmentally retrofit two thirds of the city's commercial buildings by offering incentives to the aforementioned stakeholders with the expectation of improving energy efficiency by 38% and in turn eliminating 383,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year. According to the City of Melbourne's 1200 Buildings Fact Sheet, retrofitting buildings can benefit owners by future proofing their assets against energy price increases, in turn making their buildings more appealing to prospective tenants whilst also retaining tenants over the long term. Retrofitted buildings are in demand as they:

  • command higher rental returns.
  • result in lower tenancy churn and vacancy rates.
  • use less energy and water.
  • enhance corporate image.

This program is not exclusive to purely commercial buildings, as a case study involving Alto Hotel on Bourke taken from the 1200 buildings website shows below.

As the above shows, the campaign has been running for some years, yet at this stage, 26 signatories owning a combined 46 buildings have committed to the 1200 Buildings program, including the likes of Crown Casino, RMIT University and GPT. However for the program to have deliver its full impact, further promotion or 'drum beating' for lack of a better term is required in order to meet the 2020 target. I can't help but think the City of Melbourne should relaunch a media campaign, release further press releases, conduct mainstream media interviews to labour the 1200 Buildings concept. After all we do live in a world where it's equally important for companies to be seen to be doing the right thing as opposed to simply doing the right thing. Implied pressure can often yield results.

Overall though this is a great, proactive initiative set up by the City of Melbourne to tackle greenhouse gas emissions directly, where property owners become directly involved without simply purchasing carbon neutral credits. By doing this, it improves the city's sustainable living standards whilst also setting a tangible benchmark for other cities to follow, whether they be local or overseas. Ideally now Council should take on a leadership role and encourage expanding the 1200 Buildings program into other Melbourne municipalities in some shape or form. This is by no means an easy process and it will take time to implement, but a program worth pursuing regardless.

Visit the 1200 Buildings website, or associated Sustainable Melbourne Fund wepage.

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