nab melbourneBy business reporter Emily Stewart
Photo: The NAB head office on Bourke Street in Melbourne has had the biggest lighting refit in Australia, delivering a 60 per cent reduction in energy use. (AAP)

Talks are already underway in Paris ahead of the United Nations climate change summit meeting later this month.

France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius is hosting 70 ministers and delegates at the site, which is still under construction, aiming to get a head start on the negotiations.

The summit is tasked with reaching a binding agreement to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Australian Government has been criticised for its targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030.

However, Australia’s property and banking industries are leading the world with their moves to low carbon polluting measures.

NAB’s head office in Melbourne has undertaken the biggest lighting refit in Australia.

“Switching out 4,000 light bulbs to LED bulbs which has delivered a 60 per cent reduction in energy use across the tenancy,” NAB head of environmental sustainability Nicola Murphy

said.

The community was taking climate change seriously — business had to step up and think of what it meant for them.

Romilly Madew from the Green Building Council

The refit is part of NAB’s broader energy efficiency program, which has seen the company reduce carbon emissions by 83,000 tonnes since 2007.

The program has saved NAB a staggering $14 million, with all measures meeting a payback period of less than four years.

For the building’s owner, GPT property group, the numbers stack up and it aims to have zero carbon emissions across its 74 commercial buildings.

“Compared to 2005 we’re estimating about $25 million per year savings on our electricity, gas and water bills. That makes good business sense,” head of sustainability Bruce Precious said.

He said low emitting buildings are worth more and have higher occupancy rates.

“The price of LED lighting is reducing at rates because the market size is increasing,” Carbon Reduction Institute consultant Rob Cawthorne said.

Almost 1,000 green buildings around Australia

GPT ranks in the top 1 per cent on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and said state-based energy saving schemes in Victoria and NSW have been integral to its success.

GPT is now calling for a national approach.

“With property we’re here for long term… we’ve seen a bit of chopping and changing by different governments over time, which decreases our confidence those incentive programs will be around long term,” Mr Precious said.

There are now almost 1,000 so-called green buildings around Australia.

Romilly Madew from the Green Building Council said reducing emissions became a boardroom issue around 2007.

“You had a number of elements together — the Al Gore campaign, the Stern Review and the Lowy Institute put out reviews on how the community were viewing climate change,” she said.

“The community was taking climate change seriously — business had to step up and think of what it meant for them.”

‘Our Government may not be showing leadership, but business is’

In the lead-up to the climate change talks in Paris, emission reduction targets are again gaining senior executives attention.

“Whilst our Government might not be showing leadership our business and industry definitely is,” Ms Madew said.

Recently, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has indicated there will be “major adjustments” in policy by 2017.

“There’s a broader environment of hope back on the table,” Mr Precious said.

The next steps for the leading low emission businesses is to create their own renewable energy.

GPT is soon to flick the switch on the biggest commercial solar installation in Australia on the top of a Darwin shopping centre and NAB is also rolling out solar on 40 sites across Australia.

These moves are signs that going green has both environmental and financial returns.

Source and thanks: http://www.abc.net.au/news