New NSW legislation to stimulate energy efficiency upgrades in the commercial and multi-unit residential building sectors was assented on 29th November 2010. It establishes a mechanism for voluntary environmental upgrade agreements to be struck between building owners, finance institutions and councils. Because they are secure, loans for upgrades will become available at lower interest rates and for longer terms.
The primary focus in introducing this bill has been on the commercial sector. Nevertheless, the bill specifically accommodates multi-unit residential buildings.
An environmental upgrade agreement is an agreement under which:
- a building owner agrees to carry out environmental upgrade works in respect of a building, and
- a finance provider agrees to advance funds to the building owner to finance those environmental upgrade works, and
- the council agrees to levy a charge on the relevant land for the purpose of repaying the advance to the finance provider.
Buildings that can be subject of environmental upgrade agreement are:
- An environmental upgrade agreement must relate to an existing building (that is, a building that is complete and ready for lawful use and occupation at the time the agreement is entered into).
- The building must be a non-residential building or a strata building that is the subject of a multi-residence scheme.
- A non-residential building is a building used wholly or predominantly for commercial, industrial or other non-residential purposes.
- A multi-residence scheme is a strata scheme comprising more than 20 lots (disregarding utility lots and lots used for parking).
- The building must be located in the council’s area at the time that the agreement is entered into.