Agents must tap green benefits

Commercial property managers are ramping up their spending on energy efficiency and renewable energy, a new report has revealed, a trend that agents can also leverage in the residential housing space.

The Johnson Controls Energy Efficiency Indicator (EEI) survey, which asked Australian building executives what their thoughts on green energy were, found 46 per cent of business executives plan to increase spending in energy efficiency and renewable energy in the next 12 months while 33 per cent expect their investments to stay the same.

Fifty-two per cent of Australian respondents have invested in energy efficiency in the past year, and 35 per cent have invested in renewable energy – both below the global averages (63 per cent and 36 per cent).

Of 253 respondents to the survey, 79 per cent said energy management was very or extremely important to their organisations, compared to 63 per cent in 2011.

Also, 80 per cent said they were paying more attention to energy in 2012 than in 2011.

The report also found that Australia’s top three energy efficiency measures adopted in the past 12 months included: lighting improvements (67 per cent), water efficiency improvements (57 per cent), and HVAC and/or controls improvements (50 per cent).

Sustainability training co-ordinator and founder of at WA-based Green Guru’s, Chiara Pacifici, told Real Estate Business that the green sector is growing strongly, particularly in the residential sector..

“Australian households choosing to generate electricity from rooftop solar PV has now topped more than 750,000 homes nationwide… with over eight million homes in Australia, this is almost 10 per cent of households," she said.

“In the coming decade I foresee many more Australian households generating electricity from solar, wind and hydro and using this to not only power their homes but also their new-age electric vehicles.”

Ms Pacifici stressed that real estate agents must educate themselves to sell sustainable housing effectively or run the risk of being left behind.

“It’s not just about sustainable energy; it’s also about solar passive design features that are built into a home," she said. "Agents know that buyers value a home which is flooded with natural light that is correctly built to take advantage of good building materials which provide warmth in winter and homes that are cooler in summer without an air-conditioner driving this comfort."

“These properties sell faster and often achieve an optimum price.

“As electricity prices soar, consumers will want to become better informed and therefore agents will need to be able to answer their questions and market the properties as best they can,” she said.

“Knowledge is power in this industry and having been in real estate myself for over 16 years, I can't stress enough how important it is to ensure you know what it is you're selling or risk undervaluing or misrepresenting the properties you are entrusted to market.”

Ms Pacifici says reducing energy output allows landlords - and property managers - to increase rents on their properties, while reducing the tenants overall cost of living to offset the price hike.

To qualify for the EEI survey, respondents must have budget responsibility for at least one nonresidential building, and their responsibilities must include energy use, either through monitoring of usage or proposing or approving energy-related projects. The EEI survey is conducted anonymously.

Among Australian respondents, 62 per cent classified their facilities as commercial, 17 per cent as institutional (government buildings, hospitals and schools), and 21 per cent as industrial. Thirty-eight percent of respondents managed more than 500,000 square feet.

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