Funding cuts for the green building sector have caused a major disconnect between the federal government and the industry.
The scrapping of the Tax Breaks for Green Buildings program has severely shaken both the sector and the industry at large, making many industry leaders – including both the Australian Institute of Architects and the Green Building Council of Australia – question where the major incentive now lies for those looking to go green.
While the federal government has argued that the carbon tax will offer the greatest incentive for big carbon emitters to invest in green energy and cut carbon, the majority of green building Australia is backing a carrot-on-a-stick approach.
In a move that is more in line with this mentality, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet and Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Mark Dreyfus have announced $42 million worth of grants to encourage energy efficiency retrofits in community buildings and facilities.
In a key move for the federal government’s Clean Energy Future Plan, first round recipients will receive funding for initiatives that boost the reception and implementation of energy efficient technology in the wider community. Through this, the federal government believes the foundations for a strong green sector and economy can be developed.
“The 63 successful round one recipients of the Community Energy Efficiency Program will co-fund projects to improve energy efficiency in community buildings such as museums, indoor sports and aquatic centres, art galleries and libraries,” says Combet. “A program like this, which will enable local government and community groups to improve energy efficiency, is made possible by the carbon price.”
One of the first major recipients of the grants is the Brisbane City Council, who are set to receive $5 million toward an infrastructure retrofit, which will encompass the implementation of $25,000 worth of energy efficient street lights.
“The Community Energy Efficiency Program will help to inform the community about the benefits of smart energy use, while providing improved services and amenities, buildings and community facilities,” says Dreyfus. “It will help lower energy use, cut pollution, save money and support local industries.”
Further funding recipients have yet to be revealed, with round two set to be announced later this year. A total of $200 million will be allocated to funding ventures of this nature.
The government is going to great lengths to reconfirm their commitment to not only a greener future for Australia, but to supporting a national green building sector that will make this possible.