Green light for business in the suburbs

Corporate and government tenants are leading a push for sustainable commercial office buildings in Australia's suburbs.

Corporate and government tenants are leading a push for sustainable commercial office buildings in Australia's suburbs.

While Green Star-rated buildings in downtown city areas tend to hog the limelight, figures from the Green Building Council of Australia show more than half of the sustainable offices built since the ratings were introduced in 2004 are outside Australia's city centres.

Over the past nine years, 225 Green Star-designed or as-built offices were constructed in CBD locations, compared with 135 buildings in the suburbs, GBCA figures show. When Green Star office interior fitouts are also included, the total figures rise to 311 and 164 respectively.

Tenant demand, energy costs and the need to future proof assets meant green star ratings in the commercial office sector were now almost "business as usual", chief operating officer Robin Mellon said.

Developer Pellicano is midway through constructing a 4000- square-metre speculative office development in its Parkview Estate in Warrigal Road that will target a five-star National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) rating.

"As a long-term property owner, we saw it as good investment," director Nando Pellicano said.

He said building to that standard typically added up to 7 per cent in costs.

Corporate and government tenants were driving demand but smaller tenants were usually unwilling to pay additional rent to be in a five-star building, he said.

Colliers International's recent office tenant survey found green office space was among the top four attributes sought by staff, alongside bike racks, childcare and a gym.

Six weeks ago, Schneider Electric Australia consolidated 380 employees from nine different offices into a yet-to-be-accredited five-star Green Star building in Goodman's Ferntree Business Park in Notting Hill. The office showcases the company's energy management systems and includes lighting, energy and water monitoring, as well as extensive sun shading, light and water harvesting and chilled beam airconditioning.

Another 5500-square-metre building in the same business park achieved a four-star Green Star rating and was targeting a five-star NABERS approval.

Green Star-certified buildings produce 62 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions and use 66 per cent less electricity than average buildings, Mr Mellon said.

Salta's Nexus Corporate business park in Melbourne's south-east has also focused on lifting building standards in the suburbs. The 7.1-hectare estate has been developed with minimum 4.5-star NABERS ratings and four-star Green Star rating for each building. Two buildings on the estate occupied by IMA, a subsidiary of insurer IAG, and payroll services firm ADP had achieved five-star Green Star ratings, according to Salta.

Two other suburban projects - Orica's corporate headquarters in Clayton and the BAE offices in the Victoria Gardens precinct - were also 4.5-star Green Star-rated buildings.

sjohanson@fairfaxmedia.com.au