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Report release: EEOB – Transforming the Mid-Tier Sector

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Point Advisory would like to congratulate Sustainability Victoria on their win in the ‘Best Energy Efficiency Program’ category of the National Energy Efficiency Conference Awards last week for their ‘Energy Efficient Office Buildings’ (EEOB) program. The program demonstrated that energy savings of up to 29% can be achieved across the mid-tier office building sector, via building tuning and cost effective energy efficiency measures.

Point Advisory is proud to have worked with Sustainability Victoria to develop the EEOB – Transforming the Mid-Tier Sector report, released at last week’s conference. The report outlines the energy efficiency-related opportunities and challenges presented by the mid-tier commercial buildings sector. It also highlights to successes of Sustainability Victoria’s EEOB program in addressing the challenges relating to the mid-tier.

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Multi-site asset management – a new digital frontier

Multi-site asset management – a new digital frontier

The digital world is having a profound impact on how we manage data and access information across the built environment.

Traditional 2D workflows such as CAD and standalone databases are no longer enough in today’s information rich and data-centric world.

Managing multi-site assets such as universities, shopping centres, franchises, banks and commercial buildings requires the use of smarter – more powerful tools and integrated 3D environments such as:

  • BIM (Building Information Modelling)
  • PIM (Precinct Information Modelling)
  • CIM (City Information Modelling)

Download a full copy of the presentation below or contact Nathan Dale at Point Advisory for further details.

Multi-site Asset Management – Point Advisory

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Carbon neutrality, net zero emissions, science based targets & net positivity

Carbon neutrality, net zero emissions, science based targets & net positivity – How can business take a leadership role in the carbon debate?

Confused? I don’t blame you if you are. With COP21, there has been increased debate on the role and leadership of businesses in limiting global warming.  While climate change policies around the world will progressively get the largest emitters to reduce their emissions, the current policy set up is such that voluntary actions by organisations are definitely required to deliver the speed and scale of emission reductions required to stay below the 2oC threshold, let alone a 1.5 oC.

There are a number of initiatives and programs that businesses around the world can participate in to do their fair share in limiting global warming and there are new ones being announced on a regular basis.  In Australia, voluntary programs include the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) and the Take2 Pledge announced recently by the Victorian Government. Other initiatives include the UN’s Climate Neutral Now and the We Mean Business Coalition initiatives (in collaboration with other organisations) including science based targets, 100% renewables (RE100 Initiative) and energy productivity (EP100) initiatives.

This article provides a brief definition of the different terms used but also some brief thoughts on what business can do to take a leadership role in the carbon debate.

So what does some of these terms mean:

Carbon neutrality refers to a situation where the net emissions associated with an organisation’s activities, product, services or events are equal to zero because the organisation has reduced its emissions, and acquired and cancelled carbon offset units to fully account for its remaining emissions.   This definition is also applicable to the term net zero emissions.  Companies across a wide range of sectors have achieved carbon neutrality, both here in Australia through NCOS or voluntarily or around the globe through other programs and initiatives such as the carbonZero program and the climate neutral now initiative.

A recent initiative called Science based targets (SBTs) is a partnership between CDP, UN Global Compact, WRI and WWF, which helps organisations to determine and communicate carbon emissions targets that are consistent with the level of decarbonisation required to keep global warming to 2°C (or 1.5°C) as described in the Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). There are approximately 168* organisations around the world that have agreed to adopt science based targets.  The SBT Initiative develops tools, guidance and other communications materials to enable sustainability professionals and other stakeholders to calculate and set SBTs.

One of the questions that regularly arises is how are SBTs compatible with carbon neutral commitments.  Setting a robust, science-based target will help align an organisations reduction and emission avoidance efforts with climate science prior to offsetting to achieve carbon neutrality. An SBT will ensure that investment is prioritised towards low carbon technologies and emission reduction opportunities. It will also bring additional credibility to a corporate’s carbon leadership status.

And lastly, being Net Positive means business need to ensure that the the positive impacts outweigh the negative impacts.  The Net Positive initiative launched in 2013 by the Climate Group, Forum for the Future and WWF is still very nascent and it remains to be seen how this approach will be standardised and evaluated.

Organisations have a large role to play in helping to reduce global carbon emission and there are strong reasons to take voluntary actions and go beyond compliance. While the contribution of organisations to this effort will vary including how they manage the associated risks and opportunities. It is evident from studies that those organisations that adapt and mitigate their emissions will increasingly gain competitive advantage in a carbon constrained economy.  The reasons are numerous, reputational benefits, reduction in costs, an engaged workforce and improved productivity.  In addition, there is likely to be profound impacts to company valuations if companies do not address the risks due to climate change such as new regulations, technological changes and shifts in consumer behaviour [1].

Taking a leadership position, does mean taking voluntary action and a commitment to activities beyond compliance.

This should also include engaging in the climate debate to share lessons learnt and build capacity, understanding your organisations risks across your supply chain and realising the associated opportunities.


Neil Salisbury is the Managing Director of Point Advisory a leading sustainability consultancy in Australia and the Founder of CleanTek Market, a global clean technology marketplace. Point Advisory are currently assisting a number of government and corporate clients in developing appropriate climate change strategies to manage risks and identify opportunities.

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Emissions Reduction Fund – Third Auction Announced

The Clean Energy Regulator held the second Emissions Reduction Fund auction at the start of November, and has just announced that the third auction…

The Clean Energy Regulator held the second Emissions Reduction Fund auction at the start of November, and has just announced that the third auction will be held in late April 2016.

The key outcomes of the second auction have been extensively documented and analysed, but in summary they were:

  • 131 projects were contracted, totalling over 45 million tonnes of abatement, roughly the same as the first auction.
  • The total amount spent by the Regulator was $557 million, leaving just over half of the allocation of $2.55 billion to be spent in future auctions.
  • The average price per tonne of abatement was $12.25, compared to a price of $13.95 in the first auction.
  • The majority of abatement came from vegetation projects.

The charts below show the change in project mix from the first auction to the second (in tonnes of Co2-e).

The charts reveals some notable differences in the final composition of the two auctions:

  • Waste projects decreased from 36% of total abatement in the first auction down to 8% in the second auction, as the backlog of transitioning CFI waste projects has now been successfully contracted.
  • Savannah burning projects increased from 1% of total abatement in the first auction to 14% in the second auction, as more of these projects have been registered in recent months.
  • Energy efficiency projects increased from 0% to 8%, as the relevant methodologies have been progressively released since the first auction.

A closer analysis of the underlying data reveals:

  • No avoided deforestation projects were successful in the second auction, whereas over 20 million tonnes were contracted under this method in the first auction.
  • At the same time, native forest regeneration projects increased from just under 2 million tonnes in the first auction to over 20 million tonnes in the second auction, which means the broader ‘vegetation’ category actually remained fairly stable across the two auctions.

There are still 269 projects on the ERF register that have not been contracted, and doubtless more projects will register before the next auction. This indicates that there is still a significant supply of abatement on offer. The government has just announced that the third ERF auction will be held on the 27th and 28th of April 2016. With that in mind, Point Advisory’s predictions for the third auction are:

  • The project mix for the next auction will continue to be dominated by vegetation projects, but the number of energy efficiency projects and the corresponding volume of abatement from these projects looks set to increase. Savannah burning projects will again feature strongly.
  • The CER will spend around $600 million on abatement, leaving budget for one final ERF auction, which may possibly take place before the next election (due at the end of next year).
  • Our preliminary analysis indicates that the weighted average auction price is likely to be broadly consistent with the first two auctions. To start the conversation, at this early stage we are anticipating an average price of between $12 and $13 per tonne based on the confluence of the following circumstances (we will expand on these in a future edition of our newsletter):

– The ‘tail’ of cheaper, pre-existing projects has been contracted, driving the future weighted average price up.

– The Regulator can now choose to contract between 50% and 100% of abatement offered below the benchmark price, giving them the ability to drive the average price down.

– Proponents of more expensive projects (>$15 per tonne) are understanding that they need to reduce future bids to have a chance of securing funding, driving prices down.

– The market price is becoming more crystallised with each passing auction, and behavioural economics tells us that where we have a strong price signal, market participants will tend to converge towards that price.

Our advice is consistent with most commentators: the ERF budget is quickly being exhausted and is unlikely to last beyond 2016. Potential project proponents should act fast to ensure they do not miss out.

To discuss any aspect of the ERF, please contact Charlie Knaggs or Neil Salisbury.

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Construction BIM Coordination – The New Kid On The Block

BIM is now fast becoming the norm in Australia for new buildings and infrastructure projects over the value of $40 million dollars.

By Nathan Dale, Director – Point Advisory

BIM is now fast becoming the norm in Australia for new buildings and infrastructure projects over the value of $40 million dollars.

As part of this new trend, we are also seeing a change in the way these construction projects are contracted and managed from a BIM perspective. This is especially true for the head contractor’s whose job it is to manage the project from design to final completion.

Traditionally, the lead BIM role has been centralised around an “all-knowing and all-seeing” BIM manager providing a turn-key solution for the project. Larger contractors (Tier 1) would normally have their own ih house BIM manager to manage their requirements, whereas smaller contractors (Tier 2 & 3) would often need to outsource this role to a specialist BIM service provider.

Whilst this approach has worked well in the past, the challenge facing the industry is that BIM is becoming widespread and even more complex, as asset owners are starting to understand the potential benefits (and risks) of using a BIM-centric workflow for their next project.

On a typical construction project, there are several key stakeholders involved, often with different level of BIM expertise. These include the asset owner, head contractor, architect, consultants and sub-contractors, who are all jostling to define (and protect) their own roles and responsibilities in relation to BIM.

Traditional in-house BIM managers (including external service providers) now have trouble keeping up with the ever growing day to day requirements of each individual project as BIM becomes the industry norm. Their role is quickly morphing from a technical one into a more complex project management and data coordination role.

This additional workload is then being further magnified by several other related factors such as:

  • a shortage of experienced BIM managers in the market,
  • new and emerging 4D and 5D BIM requirements,
  • additional data requirements for facility managers, and
  • more complex BIM briefs being tendered by more ambitious asset owners.

Enter the new kid on the block, the external ‘Construction BIM Coordinator’ (CBC).

As opposed to a BIM Manager whose time is best spent focusing on the high value tasks, such as setting the rules (BIM Plan), playing the gatekeeper and monitoring overall progress on the project, the construction BIM coordinator’s role is simply to execute the plan as defined by the BIM manager. This includes tasks such as: managing the federated BIM model centrally, coordinating with the various stakeholders day to day and independently running the clash detection process every 1-2 weeks on behalf of the head contractor.

By externalising this role away from the traditional project team the BIM coordination role remains independent at all times which creates a consistent reporting mechanism for all stakeholders to benchmark against. This is particularly valuable for the head contractor and adds a new level of assurance, thereby reducing overall project risk.

Under this new split-role approach both the BIM Manager and BIM Coordinator report to the Project Manager, often working closely onsite with the Design Manager. On larger projects (in excess of $100m) the contractors BIM team may consist of up to 3-5 people who can be involved in the project for up to 2 years.

By keeping the core BIM activities in-house (management) and outsourcing the non-core activities (coordination), up to 80% of the day to day BIM workload on a construction project can be externalised and, if done efficiently, substantial savings can also be made.

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Point Advisory provides a wide range of services including ‘BIM coordination’ and ‘BIM Overflow’ for the building and construction industry. 

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Tips on setting science based GHG emission targets

With the talks in Paris currently under way, a number of organisations are looking at the implications of the post 2020 targets on their operations and at setting themselves meaningful GHG emission targets to stay within a global temperature increase of 2°C.

By Neil Salisbury

With the talks in Paris currently under way,  a number of organisations are looking at the implications of the post 2020 targets on their operations and at setting themselves meaningful greenhouse gas emission targets to stay within a global temperature increase of 2°C from pre-industrial levels. The purpose of science-based targets is to inform business stakeholders on their “fair share” of effort required to achieve the 2°C pathway and the associated implications on company greenhouse gas reduction targets and business activities .

What is a science-based Target?

Targets adopted by companies to reduce GHG emissions are considered “science-based” if they are in line with the level of decarbonisation required to keep global average temperature increase below 2°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures, as described in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

TIPS ON SETTING A SCIENCE BASED TARGET 

I outline below a few tips to help organisations develop meaningful science based greenhouse gas emission targets for their companies. Some of the steps below are valid for any target setting process and Tip#3 is quite specific to science based targets.

Tip#1:  Mapping your Activities – determine emissions boundary

It is important to identify what activities are responsible for GHG emissions released into the atmosphere.  Therefore, one of the first steps is to map your activities across your supply chain and identify the Scope1, Scope 2 and material Scope 3 emissions relevant to your organisational boundary.  A number of guidelines and standards provide definitions and processes for setting your organisational boundary.  In Australia the NGER Act refers to operational control and includes all corporate group members including all facilities under the operational control of the corporate group members.  Internationally the ISO standard and the GHG protocol can assist you in determining your activities and emissions boundary.

Tip#2: Setting a Base and Target Year

Another important step is to determine the right commitment period for setting specific reduction targets.  This means picking appropriate base and target years to track your reduction efforts.  When setting a base year, organisations can use either a fixed or rolling base year.  However, it is easier to communicate an organisation’s reduction against a fixed base year.  In setting a base year, you should either select the earliest historical base year for which verifiable carbon emissions data are available or a multi-year average, if a single year’s data is unrepresentative of the company’s typical emission profile.

In setting a target year, organisations should look to facilitate longer term planning by setting both a long term target and interim short term reduction targets to track progress.  Balancing the target level with the target year horizon is a risk management exercise for most organisations. There are pros and cons for setting long term targets. For example, a more distant target may carry greater risks, associated with changes in technology and markets, but it can encourage better planning for large capital investments with longer term GHG reduction benefits.

The methodology or standard you will use to develop your science based targets (see Tip#3 below) may have some bearing on the base year or commitment period.  For instance, the sectoral decarbonisation approach (to develop a science based target) has a minimum base year of 2010.

Tip#3: Determine science based target methodology

Various methods can be used to develop a science based target. You need to carefully consider each risks and limitations associated with each method in light of your organisation’s goals and growth projections.  The main differentiator between the main approaches described below is that they consider absolute targets or relative targets. based on expected economic growth. The following is a summary of the outline proposed in “Science Based Targets”, an initiative by CDP, WRI and WWF:

– The sectoral decarbonisation approach (SDA): This is probably the most comprehensive of approaches at it provides a sector-based approach for companies to set GHG reduction targets necessary to keep to a global 2°C temperature rise. The SDA has a subsector-level approach that differentiates it from other methods and global least- cost mitigation perspectives. The SDA allocates the 2°C carbon budget to different sectors: using the detailed sector-scenarios from the International Energy Agency’s 2°C Scenario (IEA 2DS) model, it is possible to estimate the 2°C-compatible carbon intensity for any sector by dividing the total direct emissions of the sector in any given year by the total activity of the sector in the same year.

– C-Fact: This method recommends that organisations should divide the company’s GHG footprint by its contribution to the world’s GDP. This is measured by dividing the company’s gross profit (or EBITDA + Operating Expenditures for non-profits or start-ups and when a company is not generating revenue) by the world GDP. Targets are then determined using approximate growth rates through 2050 using analyst or internal financial forecasts to derive the Carbon Intensity Reduction Rate for each company.

– MARS Method: MARS’ approach was to compare the group’s emissions to global GHG emissions and to scale it down linearly required world emissions to their group; i.e. the target is proportional to the overall world’s target, regardless of sector or any other consideration (The world’s emissions are at ~35 GT/yr. and need to come down 80% and MARS is ~14 MT and needs to come down 80%). This is based on absolute and not intensity metrics.

– GEVA (greenhouse gas emission per unit of value add): This approach proposes that if all nations reduce their “GHG emissions per unit of GDP” by 5% per year, global GHG emissions will be 50% lower in 2050 than in 2010, as long as the global economy continues to grow at its historical rate of 3.5% per year. The suggested 5% per year decrease can be translated directly into a corporate resolution to reduce corporate “GHG emissions per unit of value added” (GEVA) by 5% per year.

Tip#4: Setting a target

A study of the world’s largest 100 companies (by CDP) found that absolute targets are almost twice as popular as intensity targets, with many companies having both absolute and intensity metrics targeting different parts of the business. Among the group going for intensity based targets, half used a normalization measure based on a unit of production and a third used an intensity measure linked to revenue.  Regardless of your choice, you should consider the following in setting a target:

  • The development of a projected baseline emissions scenario under a business as usual scenario taking into account the companies investment and operations plan.
  • The development and modelling of compatible emission pathways based on the identified methodology to assess the potential for organisations to meet these targets.
  • Include, where possible, identified and potential emission reduction actions in the options analysis to determine overall likelihood, uncertainty and potential gap to meet the nominated targets.
  • The scale of potential emissions reductions likely for your organisation,
  • Factors outside your control in relation to emissions or energy use,
  • The potential impact of setting targets on the growth of your organisation,
  • The opportunity for cost-effective emissions or energy reductions, and
  • Undertake detailed stakeholders’ consultations.

Tip#5: Track and report progress against target

Once you have established your targets and once implementation of measures to meet these targets is in train, it is important to track progress towards the targets. This will allow the adjustment of management and mitigation strategies and targets to reflect changes in context and business conditions. Typically, an action plan that provides a roadmap will be developed to help your organisations achieve set targets in an efficient way. While specific targets and business considerations will dictate the specific measures that will go into the action plan, it is actually important to include annual metrics to track progress. The plan can then be adjusted to incorporate new reduction measures, new technologies becoming available, and enabling policies that are put in place.

TiP#6:  Verify emissions reductions

At a minimum, internal processes must be in place to check that expected emissions reductions eventuate as a result of implemented measures. This is essential to good governance and will enable organisational learning.  While this is typically seen as a cost to the bottom line, it is important that you receive independent assurance/verification over the reported GHG emissions. Independent verification can enhance the credibility of an organisation’s progress towards its targets but it can also highlight any issues / risks that the organisation faces in achieving its targets.

For any questions on science based targets or to register your interest, contact our sustainability team

Point Advisory is an integrated sustainability consultancy.  We have advised a large number of corporates and government agencies on target setting. 

[1] http://sciencebasedtargets.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Sectoral-Decarbonization-Approach-Report.pdf

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Improving Victoria’s Energy Productivity & Competitiveness

Australia’s economic productivity has been declining for some years now, corroborated by our poor rankings on both the recent global energy productivity Index and the global competitiveness report that placed us 36th and 22nd respectively.

By Neil Salisbury

Australia’s economic productivity has been declining for some years now, corroborated by our poor rankings on both the recent global energy productivity Index  and the global competitiveness report that placed us 36th and 22nd respectively.   The RBA in a recent report outlined that our productivity (as multifactor productivity (MFP)) has been declining over the past decade and even experienced negative growth in most years since 2005.
We also find ourselves behind other top countries when it comes to innovation and business sophistication, two critical drivers for advanced economies.
Similarly, Victoria is facing significant, perhaps unprecedented, change and challenges with respect to our productivity (incl energy productivity) and competiveness.  There is continued economic uncertainty, aging energy assets, a dwindling manufacturing sector and increased competition and environmental pressures.   These challenges are impacting on the productivity and competitiveness of Victorian industries.
A number of reports and articles from Climate Works and A2SE have outlined the need to improve our energy productivity and the growing role of energy in improving competitiveness.   We have outlined a couple of points below to explore further (over the next few months) as Victoria transitions towards a more efficient and productive economy.

An Integrated Response is Essential

Findings solutions to the energy challenges facing Victoria should not just depend on energy policy instruments, a comprehensive integrated response is required and it must be done in a way that supports continued competitiveness and economic growth.   This means that any successful approach should be contained within a comprehensive economic framework.  So that all feasible options can be balanced and traded off, that barriers and opportunities for making various choices becomes apparent and to ensure economy wide linkages are better understood.

Innovation is a key driver

Improving innovative capacity in Victoria is integral to achieving the high levels of productivity (incl energy productivity) necessary to achieve and sustain overall competitiveness.  Building innovative capacity in Victoria, will help to turn ideas into tangible value add products and services.  The RBA also indicated that one of the One of the driving factors responsible for promoting productivity growth within an economy is innovation. We see this transformation occurring in other countries such as South Korea, Singapore, Israel, Germany and others who have developed a whole of government integrated approach to improve the infrastructure, support systems and networks to help organisations and technologies innovative and grow.  Examples include the Tech City in the UK, the Singapore Government’s Cleantech program, promotion by South Korea of the joint research and development programs between state and corporates ( e.g. Green New Deal) and others.
The recent Australian Innovation System Report (2014), released by the Office of the Chief Economist at the Department of Industry and Science indicates that innovation is a key factor in growing a competitive business across all sectors and sizes.
In Victoria, abating energy growth demand and reducing carbon emissions can be achieved by driving innovation in public policies and business models .  While organisations continue to innovate in Victoria, they continue to face information and incentive barriers and market failures restricting opportunities from being developed today.
Over the next few months, we will spend some time outlining our thoughts on what Victoria can do to develop an innovative culture.
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1.  2015 Energy Productivity Index
1. Global Competitiveness Report
2. MGI Capturing European Energy Productivity Report
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Energy efficiency at risk under the emissions reduction fund (ERF)

Energy efficiency at risk under the ERF

By Neil Salisbury

As published in WME, November 2014

The government’s commercial building plan under the Emissions Reduction Fund has raised a number of questions for companies principally around the benefits of participation.

A number of reverse auction programs around the world, China’s wind concession program, India’s PAT scheme, Brazil’s PROIFNA Scheme and the UKs NFFO program have experienced a lack of participation due to high upfront project costs, real or perceived uncertainty and a real or perceived over-complication of the process. The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) design very much follows a traditional reverse auction process with the added complication of not having a visible benchmark price.

The release of the Commercial Building draft determination (Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Methodology (Commercial Buildings) Determination 2014) has raised a number of questions by organisations on the opportunities under the ERF; the likely carbon savings that can be achieved; the cost benefit of bidding into the ERF; and should they participate in the scheme.

There is no doubt that energy efficiency still remains an untapped resource, with the recent IEA World Energy Outlook referring to the global energy efficiency market as ‘an invisible powerhouse’ worth at least US$310 billion per year. And for commercial buildings in Australia, there are still vast opportunities – a ClimateWorks report (2010) outlines that energy consumption from existing buildings will still represent the large majority of the total energy used by buildings in 2020.

While the commercial buildings exposure draft very much follows the NSW Energy Savings Scheme (EES) method, it utilises the NABERS energy ratings and tools for commercial buildings to quantify emissions reductions and energy savings from energy efficiency activities undertaken as part of a commercial buildings ERF project.

In this context, we can explore a typical energy efficiency project that has been undertaken under the NSW EES, to determine their viability under the proposed ERF.

For example, a commercial lighting upgrade project that replaces existing T8 fluorescents and halogens with LED fixtures.

The capital cost of the lighting upgrade project to replace the T8s and halogens with LEDs would be ≈$198,800 excluding the energy savings certificate (ESC) discount; generating 2679 ESCs and achieving an energy saving of 151 MWh/year. The payback without the ESC discount would be around 8.8 years and with the ESC discount around 6.5 years.

Under an ERF scenario, the project will generate approximately 131 tCO-e, and assuming a bid price of $20/ tCO-e (which is higher that some initial estimates on typical bid prices under the ERF), it will achieve a payback of 7.9 years. Now this does not take into account any ancillary costs associated with bidding into the ERF. Therefore offering a marginal net incentive of the capital required to deliver the project. Now this is unlikely deliver a price per unit of reduction that acts as sufficient incentive for projects to ‘get them over the line’.

In addition, we would subsequently need to aggregate a number of other projects to submit a bid, given that its does not meet the threshold requirements. Even if we aggregate say 16 similar projects, the overall return to the project proponent is negligible, especially if the bid prices are closer $10/ tCO-e. Interestingly, if these projects occur in Tasmania or South Australia the returns will be even lower, due to the relatively low emission intensity in those states.

While we are unlikely to see the price point being high enough to change behaviors and reduce some of the barriers to greater adoption of energy efficiency, it is possible that energy projects already earmarked for upgrades or retrofits could be bid into the ERF. Where, the project proponents have completed the feasibility, arranged the finances and the business case stacks-up without the ERF. The level of uptake from this group will depend on, how onerous the process is, and the level of monitoring and verification required.

Therefore, commercial building proponents need to determine if the ERF provides sufficient incentive to deliver a price per unit of reduction to get their projects over the line. They also need to understand if their energy efficiency projects will actually generate sufficient carbon savings, in addition to understanding the bid process, monitoring and verification requirements.

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Managing buildings in many dimensions

Building information modelling (BIM) has changed how we deliver and manage buildings but could the next step, using augmented reality, bring it into more mainstream use?

By Neil Salisbury

Full article available at http://www.wme.com.au/categories/sustainable/september5_2014.php

BIM adds additional “dimensions” to those 3D CAD models by attaching information to elements in the virtual building. Project managers have become increasingly adept at representing buildings as data-rich 3D models, including the integration of schedule (4D), cost (5D), and operations and maintenance information (6D) into their models.

BIM data, when utilised throughout the life cycle of a building: in design, to support visualisation and development of construction documentation; through construction, for coordination and planning; and into facilities maintenance and operation, for the working life of the building, provides significant opportunities for facility managers (FM). The integration of sustainable principles into BIM, whereby the environmental performance of buildings can be managed, is referred to as Green BIM. Green BIM can assist FMs determine how well a building is performing after they are commissioned. This includes the performance management of buildings, such as its energy and water consumption, worker health and safety, security, contamination, hazardous materials storage and management, hazardous releases and more importantly in building retrofits.

Studies in the US have indicated that there is significant time and money spent looking for, validating or recreating information that should be readily available, estimated at between $2.3 to $2.6 per sq. m (of managed facility space per year). This information is already captured in a BIM model and can be used in FM. This enables facility owners to leverage design and construction data to create greater efficiencies, such as having accurate as-built information to reduce the cost and time required for renovations or optimising the operation and maintenance of the building systems to reduce energy usage. BIM for FM can automate a number of functions that are currently quite manual, thereby reducing costs, time and redundancy in management systems.

Are we lacking the smarts? While a number of facility managers and building owners see the benefits of using BIM or Green BIM for FM, the uptake in Australia and around the world has been slow, to say the least.

The reasons are numerous, a recent survey in the UK indicated that over 35% of FM professionals do not know about BIM and its uses, and there is a significant lack of understanding of BIM and its associated benefits.

Other reasons for the lack of uptake includes, a lack of technical know-how to access and manipulate the BIM model, the cost of the software, in-sufficient time to evaluate BIM and its options and finally, they are not clear on how BIM integrates with facility management.

To overcome some of these real and or perceived barriers, BIM combined with Augmented Reality (AR) tools provides a tangible alternative for facility managers, where technical know-how, software costs or a lack of time no longer becomes an issue. AR first became popular in gaming and media entertainment, and is slowly being adopted into other sectors and areas including applications in the design, construction and facility management industry. An early example of AR, is the Terminator movie, where the physical, real-world is augmented by computer generated sensory inputs such as graphics and data.

AR has the potential to transform the FM environment, where users can access automated, on-demand, and inexpensive building and equipment information visually, which has significant potential to improve decision-making, reduce cost and time during facility management activities.

This is a huge step forward in bringing BIM to the jobsite and out of the office. Effectively, AR can enable the widespread adoption and uptake of BIM in Australia. It is becoming more and more important for the data that BIM produces to be transferable across different professions and stages of a building’s life-cycle.