Top green rating is the new cachet for CBD property

Australian Financial Review – SPECIAL REPORT – AUSTRALIAN SUSTAINABILITY

The five stars awarded to Adelaide’s City Central Tower 1 has become the benchmark for new developments, reports Miriam Hechtman.

City Central Tower 1 in Adelaide is still under construction, but a five−star award by the Green Building Council of Australia is proving to be a major lure for prospective tenants.

Although not due for completion until 2007, the building is now 85 per cent leased to organisations such as Deloitte, ANZ and the South Australian government. The building’s owners, the Commonwealth Property Office Fund, says that the rating is a major drawcard for the 21−storey building. “All the design, architecture and engineering behind it was in place prior to us buying but we were clearly attracted by the green credentials of the building,” says CPA fund manager Charles Moore. “As each day passes we see it becoming more and more a critical factor in attracting and retaining tenants,” he says. “It’s becoming a bigger factor amongst corporate tenants as well.

As corporates become more environmentally aware they’re attracted to buildings with green credentials. “CPA has taken the “green” credentials one step further by agreeing to participate in a tree−planting program with the Australian Carbon Bio−sequestration Initiative. The fund has agreed to plant 20 hectares of trees during the next five years in order to offset the carbon dioxide emissions produced from the building’s daily operations. Moore says this voluntary initiative is a firstfor the property industry.

Bob Boorman, manager of major projects at building developer Caversham Property Developments, says he thinks the overriding reason Caversham chose to go “green” was a feeling that the office market in Australiawould move towards more environmentally sustainable buildings. “We decided that that’s something we ought to get on board with to be somewhat ahead of the pack. “The journey towards the coveted five−star rating started with the initial role of the firm of Lincolne Scott as ESD (Ecologically Sustainable Development) consultants.

“As part of a natural evolution we ended up being a part of a marketing and leasing team so we actuallyworked with the developer and agent in talking to tenants about the benefits of the building at the end of theday,” says Lincolne Scott’s joint managing director, Darren Bilsborough. He says the most important issue for tenants is the potential for improvements in staff productivity.

One part of that improvement can be achieved by rethinking how space can be achieved. Bilsborough says different calculations need to be applied when thinking about whether a space can actually assist in the improvement of your staff’s productivity.The design’s focus on providing fresher air and higher levels of natural light have also been intended toimprove staff productivity. The building uses a type of glass that lets in more natural light and its air conditioning system uses thecomparatively new chilled beam technology. Says Bilsborough: “The air conditioning is actually the largest installation in Australia using chilled beam technology.”

Says Boorman: “There’s a whole lot of things that go together to produce a working environment for people,completely different to what their used to and that’s what we’re looking for.” Bilsborough says the (uncompleted) building is having a huge impact on the market place. “It shifted everybody’s view about what could or should be done in the future to the point where if you don’t build a green office building in the main CBD with a green star rating it will be obsolete before it’s evenc ompleted.”

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