Dear ‘EUAs Councils’ and those interested in EUAs,
Since our meeting in June 2016 of councils interested in establishing EUAs programs, there have been some developments in Victoria. Scott Bocskay, CEO of Sustainable Melbourne Fund (SMF), attended a WAGA meeting this week and gave us an update as follows:
- Nine Victorian councils are now signed on with SMF: Greater Geelong, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Wyndham, Macedon, Mornington Peninsula, Moreland, Greater Bendigo and Greater Shepparton. Another council is about to sign on and three to four additional councils are expected to join the program this financial year. Already, Victoria’s EUAs market is the largest in Australia.
- There is interest in EUAs in regional Victoria, particularly from breweries, food manufacturers and food processers. In WAGA and other regions, there is interest from manufacturing businesses. EUAs for these business types are quite different to EUAs for commercial offices. Manufacturing projects are usually single-owner projects, although there are often two businesses involved – the building owner and the manufacturer.
- Application forms are out in some councils, and SMF is holding active discussions with a number of other potential project applicants. We can expect to hear that two EUAs deals have been signed outside the City of Melbourne in November. Within the City of Melbourne, an EUA was recently signed for a large commercial office upgrade, with all tenants consenting.
- A couple of specific questions have arisen through business engagement:
- Is there a minimum size for a solar installation covered by an EUA? Answer: No, but some lenders do have a size condition. SMF will lend as little as $15,000 for a solar installation, but most lenders generally don’t consider projects under $500,000.
- Is a Level 2 audit always required for an EUA? Answer: Hmm. The burden of proof is on the applicant to show that their project will provide ‘environmental benefit’. SMF is currently commissioning a review of EUAs for buildings other than commercial offices, looking at the minimum requirements, with a view to expanding eligible building types and accepting projects that are already qualified under the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target scheme (VEET), the Renewable Energy Target and other programs, i.e. that may not require an additional level 2 audit to be conducted as well. We’ve asked SMF to let us know the outcome of the review as soon as possible so that the question can be further clarified. In the meantime, the message is that SMF wants to hear from any business that may be eligible for an EUA, even if they have not done a level 2 audit.
- Some EUAs councils plan to hold events and other communications, with their economic development units, to promote their sustainability programs to businesses, which will include information about EUAs. Of course, it’s important to provide businesses with consistent messages and a clear pathway to achieving their objectives, e.g. solar on the roof, energy efficiency. SMF will update the Better Building Finance and SMF websites by early next year. Better Building Finance will have general information about EUAs, including case studies of existing EUAs deals, and links back to individual council programs through micro pages.
WAGA is now considering a follow-up meeting with Victorian councils in March next year, once some further EUAs deals have been signed and we can assess progress. At that stage, it would also be useful to hear about any other providers apart from SMF offering EUAs services. Stay tuned for a ‘save the date’ and request for agenda items. In the meantime, please pass on this update to other interested people in your councils. You’re also welcome to send any of your own updates or questions to me for the whole group.