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Consolidation of property an opportunity to consolidate leadership in more efficient, productive buildings

The Australian Government’s decision to co-locate government departments provides unparalleled and immediate opportunities to save money, boost productivity and achieve extra efficiencies, says the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) have agreed to co-locate their Canberra offices, which the federal government estimates will “result in approximately $84 million in efficiencies”, to be realised over the 17 year term of the lease of the ATO building.

“We welcome initiatives that deliver greater efficiencies without reducing service delivery or effectiveness,” says the GBCA’s Chief Operating Officer, Robin Mellon.

“However, we would like the Australian Government to take an additional step towards efficient, productive buildings by achieving a Green Star – Performance rating for the Australian Taxation Office headquarters.”

Green Star – Performance assesses the operational performance of buildings against multiple benchmarks including energy, water, materials, ecology and indoor environment quality, allowing owners and managers to identify opportunities for improvement and make informed decisions about how to generate greater efficiencies and reduce the environmental impacts of their assets.

“The Australian Government is well-placed to identify additional opportunities that will save taxpayer dollars on operational costs and create healthier, more productive places for people to work,” Mr Mellon explains.

In 2013, the GBCA undertook research that found a modest 10 per cent improvement in the energy efficiency of federal government buildings – far below the 66 per cent average improvement recorded by Green Star-rated buildings around Australia – could save $35 million a year in electricity costs alone. 

Research also found that improving the holistic performance of the federal government’s building stock has the potential to boost public sector productivity by almost $2 billion a year, based on productivity gains achieved in Green Star-rated buildings around the country.

The ATO has already committed to better outcomes for staff and for taxpayers with the ATO Albury office achieving a 5 Star Green Star - Office Design v3 rating.  The ATO’s office at Box Hill is also registered to achieve a Green Star rating. And the former ATO office at 100 Market Street in Sydney achieved a 6 Star Green Star rating for the refurbishment by Westfield in 2010.

The new arrangement will see the Department of Veterans’ Affairs move from its current Woden premises into the spare office space within the ATO’s Civic premises.  The move is expected to take place from June 2016.

“We call on the Australian Government to lead by example and commit to assessing the buildings it owns, occupies and develops using the Green Star – Performance rating tool.  This has the potential to increase the money saved by this property consolidation, and to save millions of additional dollars across the whole government accommodation portfolio,” Mr Mellon concludes.