On Saturday the Federal Energy Minister launched a new initiative aimed at improving energy efficiency in Strata units. This initiative, called Smart Blocks, comes as the result of the identified rise in medium to high density strata living across Australia, and the recognition that many strata communities can benefit from reduced energy costs as a result of changes that improve energy efficiency.

How does it work?

Smart Blocks provides tenants with a 'toolkit' for approaching building owners and managers to seek improvements in energy efficiency. Along with the already established NABERS and Green Star energy rating systems, these measures are likely to further increase the demand for specific clauses in contracts that require owners, builders and tenants to maintain or even improve a building's energy use over time.

What does this mean for building owners, managers and developers?

Smart Blocks is a tool that will increase awareness about the potential costs savings of greener buildings. Tenants looking at entering into new leases or re-negotiating existing ones will increasingly seek buildings with better energy ratings to enjoy the benefits from a building's energy efficiency. Owners and developers will need to be seen to contribute to such initiatives as consumers become increasingly aware of energy choices. The forces may require new works to be undertaken, installation of more sophisticated energy monitoring tools and the provision of accurate data about a building's energy use.

What does this mean for tenants?

Aside from being in a better position to tackle inefficient and power-hungry buildings with the new Smart Blocks toolkit, tenants need to be aware of any relevant lease obligations to cooperate with owners and managers in implementing new energy efficiency initiatives.

Overall, it's clear that Smart Blocks is yet another initiative that forms part of a push for greener buildings and a cleaner environment, putting positive pressure on developers, builders, owners, managers and tenants alike. Parties need to be aware of not only the opportunities that such initiatives pose, but also their obligations in implementing ways to improve a building's energy use.

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