City Hub: Green with envy: city boosts its eco credentials

Published in City Hub on July 30, 2015

Online: http://www.altmedia.net.au/green-with-envy-city-boosts-its-eco-credentials/108120

Surry Hill’s unique Reader’s Digest Building will become ‘greener’ with the City of Sydney’s help, but some argue the City should not take the credit.

The Surry Hills building was approved for an Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA), which involves a loan through City of Sydney for environmentally efficient improvements.

The building, owned by company Intrasia Oxley (DRE) Pty Ltd, will witness a $1.2 million upgrade, said to decrease base energy usage by around sixty per cent.

However, City of Sydney Liberal Councillor Edward Mandla said he believes the building was already on track to environmental sustainability, without the council’s help.

“The City of Sydney has utterly failed in its green initiatives,” he said.

He said that many businesses were looking to go ‘greener’, without the help of “bumbling bureaucrats”.

“What we know is that buildings have been voluntarily becoming ‘greener’ for years… not once did someone say ‘I did it because council told me how or why’.”

Council’s statistics favour Clr Mandla’s comments, with only six EUAs signed in Sydney so far.

However, a council spokesperson told City Hub that several building owners are currently investigating the agreement as a possible option.

Executive director of Intrasia Oxley, Braith Williams, said the developments will “increase the building’s energy efficiency, reduce its carbon footprint and provide long term savings for both the tenants and owners”.

The City of Sydney promotes EUAs as an option for owners to improve properties with borrowed funds, with the assurance that they can pay back the finance.

“They are better than traditional debt or cash as it is the energy savings themselves that are used to pay back the finance used to upgrade the building’s energy systems,” said a council spokesperson.

Mr Williams said that the application process for Intrasia Oxley took 14 months, and this could be the reason that so few Sydney businesses are pursuing the agreement.

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