Lights Out for SMEs
21 August 2013 at 11:37 am
Small and medium enterprises looking to embrace sustainable practice and businesses in regional areas to are set to benefit from the expansion of a Not for Profit national energy efficiency scheme.
Funding received this month from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism will see the CitySwitch program reach a broader small and medium enterprise (SME) audience, targeting suburban and regional centres such as Wollongong, Geelong and Newcastle.
The program is the only energy efficiency program specifically for commercial office tenants, focusing on business habitation of office space through promotion of behavioural changes and investment in low energy lighting and office equipment.
Net Balance Foundation, the Not for Profit arm of the sustainability advisory and assurance firm, is working alongside the City of Sydney, City of Melbourne, City of Perth and other partner councils to rollout the expanded scheme.
Senior Associate at Net Balance, Charlie Knaggs, said the new funds would play an important role in stimulating investment in the area.
“Energy efficiency is an area of market failure,” Knaggs said. “A lot of organisations, when presented with energy efficient measures, will often turn it own. They’re not sure of the investment they’re making.”
“Its important for government to get in and address that market gap. Grants play a role in getting things going.”
“There’s latent interest we’re hoping we’ll swoop in on and pick up,” he said.
The new funding was obtained as part of the government’s EEIG program, which aims to engage, encourage and empower small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and community organisations to make informed decisions about energy efficiency.
Knaggs said the program was a good opportunity for those SMEs limited by their size.
“The main difference with the small guys is that they don’t have in-house expertise. In SMEs it’s very rare to come across someone looking full-time at energy efficiency.”
“One of the really attractive things for SMEs with this is that it’s really low maintenance. When you commit to the program, you’re only committing to achieving a 4-star NABERS energy rating for your office.”
"The program was a good starting point for SMEs looking to move their organisation into the sustainability arena," he said.
“Start with energy efficiency, because it’s the only area of sustainability where you get quite the same return on investment. It’s also easier to quantify.
“If you look at a company that produces a broader sustainability report for example, I know organisations may do it for altruistic reason, but ultimately what you’re looking for is what’s coming back to the company.
“With energy efficiency you can get a cost-based assessment of return on investment. You can really make a business case for it.”
There are currently over 430 tenancies from 378 different organisations signed up to the CitySwitch program, including Merrill Lynch, Leighton Holdings, Corrs Chambers Westgarth and the Australian Nurses Federation.
The program has been operating nationally for five years, with members have delivering 80,000 tonnes of carbon savings to date.