by Russel Norman
The World Economic Forum, a group consisting of the world’s leading corporate citizens, is calling on governments to take the lead in green job creation through the retrofitting of commercial buildings to make them more energy efficient.
The report, entitled A Profitable & Resource Efficient Future: Catalysing Retrofit Finance & Investing in Commercial Real Estate, recommends practical steps government leaders can take to stimulate investment in energy efficiency upgrades to commercial buildings enabling job creation and green growth. The retrofit market has an estimated value of US$400 billion in the United States alone, creating 600,000–900,000 new green jobs while reducing energy usage by 29% by 2020.
The report recognises that, like the home insulation sector, there is a general market failure to price and incentivise the retrofitting of commercial buildings. Government leadership is all that is required to unlock the business potential of the commercial retrofit industry.
One of the key recommendations of the report is for government-mandated and standardised energy consumption reporting – an efficiency rating system for buildings. When combined with additional policies such as tax incentives, loan guarantees or credit enhancements, the information generated by such a reporting and rating system can help potential investors make better decisions to invest in energy efficiency projects.
Australia was found to have the most mature retrofit market as a result of a long-standing reporting and rating system, coupled with government-led action, including tax deductions and a third party institution to host demonstration projects.
The Green Party has taken the lead in the residential sector with our Heat Smart home insulation programme. We’ve announced new policy to energy rate rental properties, make this information publicly available, and then implement minimum energy efficiency standards to help drive investment. The World Economic Forum’s report rates this approach as best practice.
The potential for green job creation retrofitting our commercial building stock here in New Zealand is huge, but if we don’t move quickly, it will be Australian companies that secure a lion’s share of the market here and abroad.