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Eco-Refurbishment for Local Council Buildings’ Net Zero Commitment

Severe weather patterns are threatening humanity’s ability to produce food and while our oceans rise, expect flooding of biblical proportions to batter our shores. Containing the adverse effects of climate change can only be mitigated by a coordinated response from all countries.

One of these responses is Net Zero Carbon. By definition, Net Zero Carbon is a building which has carbon emissions equivalent to zero or even negative. The United Kingdom was the first country to pass a Net Zero law in 2019. Their aim is to ensure that all their building’s processes and operations are carbon neutral by 2050.

Net Zero is measured by four key principles as per the World Green Building Council or WorldGBC and these are:

1. Energy demand reduction
2. Measuring and disclosing carbon (based on a building’s metric data)
3. Generating balance from renewable resources (on-site, off-site, and offsets)
4. Improving rigour and verification of embodied carbon (including zero waste and zero water)

Meeting the Net Zero Carbon commitment can be achieved through eco-refurbishment. Although, net zero emission policies are easier to enforce for newer buildings, the equation won’t be complete without green refurbishment.

This article will discuss how eco-refurbishment of council’s buildings are done to meet their Net Zero commitment.

“Green buildings achieving the Green Star certification in Australia have been shown to produce 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than average Australian buildings, and 51% less potable water than if they had been built to meet minimum industry requirements.” – WorldGBC

A. Planning an Eco-refurbishment Project

Eco-refurbishment projects need proper planning, which includes the analysis of equipment life-cycle costs and the necessary retrofit measures. Planning ahead also helps you avoid project pitfalls such as personal assumptions, obsolete or incomplete data from previous sustainability or property managers.

Green refurbishments or retrofits are both intensive and extensive projects. There are many factors to consider, which includes upgrading an entire building’s windows, checking its current plug loads, or simply improving the building’s lighting systems. A project, this big, needs a team of experts who are right for the job and know what needs to be done.

B. Choosing a Team for Your Council Building’s Eco-refurbishment

As mentioned earlier, your Council’s green retrofit project will need a team to execute and accomplish it. Choosing an ESCO, like Ecosave, can help you with your retrofit project. Our team of Net Zero experts, engineers, and energy-efficiency designers understand how eco-refurbishment projects work. They can also identify possible project risks and formulate measures to mitigate these risks.

A dedicated team of experts may gather the following information: lifecycle of current equipment and upgrade history, cost data based on the building’s energy use, forecasts from capital expenditures and if necessary, lease structures. They will work with your current net zero energy plans to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the process.

C. Document Project Expenditures and Set the Retrofit Project’s Baseline

In any project, documenting expenditures is important because it will help forecast future operating costs of a net zero building. Business-as-Usual scenarios are often used as reference for projects such as this. In a BaU scenario: the team will include estimates for anticipated end-of-cycle investments and future energy costs of building maintenance.

In addition: BaU helps the team build a comprehensive business case to reduce the retrofit’s operating and capital costs via energy efficiency investments. This also helps the team establish a realistic baseline to define the project’s BaU cost.

D. Assessing a Building’s Technical Potential for Energy Conservation Measures

Your Council’s stakeholders must meet with the eco-refurbishment team during the building’s technical assessment. This will allow them to identify and understand what type of ECMs can be used to lower energy costs. These may include different on-site energy generation options or other cost-effective options to save on energy.

After the assessment, the energy efficiency team will discuss with you their findings and recommendations – what type of ECMs will be best for the eco-refurbishment project and their technical potential. Possible constraints may also be discussed to formulate the project’s achievable potential.

E. Implementation of the Council Building’s Eco-Refurbishment Project and Phasing Installation

Eco-refurbishment of an existing property or council building can be either implemented at once or in phases. If your Council prefers to have the project in phases, it’s important to discuss with your partner ESCO the completion of each phase. Your ESCO’s team may advise you to complete the ECMs first. This will help them determine the size of renewable energy for your building’s final energy demand.

Sustainability retrofit projects can also be sources through Energy Services Agreements or ESAs. ESAs are alternative strategies to financing eco-refurbishment projects. It doesn’t involve debt financing, equity, or even upfront capital. It’s beneficial for LGAs who lack funding but want to purse net zero retrofit projects.

F. Net Zero Building Commissioning and Ongoing Monitoring of the Building’s Occupants

Once the project has been completed, the building will be monitored to help its facility managers and occupants to transition to a new system. A carbon-free building will only be realised if both all stakeholders are working together.

The building systems will be monitored to ensure it functions as designed. Management processes, such as ISO 5001, to maintain the building’s intended energy performance. Facility managers and the staff will be trained to operate the building.

Aside from monitoring building systems and training its staff, occupants must be familiarised with net zero energy operations. Their behaviour is critical, as they are the biggest energy consumers which will affect the entire building’s power efficiency. Education and training are the best tool to help occupants transition to a “greener normal”.

The goal of a carbon-neutral council building is achievable with proper planning, selecting a credible ESCO partnership, sourcing funds through ESAs, and changing the net zero building occupant’s behaviour.

Connect with Ecosave to learn more about building partnerships with us and our ESAs. Book a Consultation with Us or call us at 1300 55 77 64 today!

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