An award-winning Victorian state government green building program that was scrapped by the former Coalition has been reinstated by Labor with a $33 million investment over two years to cut building energy consumption and emissions, using solar PV and efficient lighting, heating and cooling.
The Andrews government said on Monday it had rebooted the Greener Government Buildings Program (GGB), using funding from the recently issued Victorian Green Bonds.
It said the program aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25,000 tonnes a year and save up to $100 million in the longer term by slashing the energy use of government buildings.
This would include the installation of new lighting technologies and upgraded heating and cooling systems at Gordon TAFE in Geelong, and Peninsula Health facilities, including the Frankston Hospital.
The program would also install solar and LED lighting in hundreds of Victorian schools and regional healthcare facilities, and replace all of Victoria’s freeway lighting with LED technology.
Money saved on energy costs would be used to repay the initial investment in just five years, the government said, and would save an estimated $6 million a year over 15 years, as well as avoided capital investment costs.
State minister for finance Robin Scott said the GGB program – which won the Premier’s Sustainability Award in 2011 – also further supported the clean energy and technology industries, creating jobs and strengthening Victoria’s position as a centre of excellence for energy efficiency.
“Unlike the former Coalition government, the Andrews Labor Government is leading the way when it comes to tackling climate change,” Scott said. “The Greener Government Buildings Program will save an estimated $100 million and proves that greenhouse gas abatement does not need to be expensive.”
The move to bring back the scheme was welcomed by Australia’s peak body for energy efficiency, the Energy Efficiency Council (EEC).
“Dan Andrews’ decision is win-win-win – it will improve public facilities, strengthen the State’s finances, save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create hundreds of skilled jobs,” said EEC CEO Luke Menzel.
“This decision has put Victoria back in the race to become Australia’s leader on energy efficiency. Last month we released our 2016/17 priorities for government action to improve Australia’s poor global performance on smart energy use. Our number one priority was reducing governments’ energy bills with best practice efficiency programs. We’re delighted that the Victorian Government is announcing this program just a month later,” said Menzel.