The Better Building Partnership (BBP) has launched the Expand the Band campaign to revise outdated set-points and deadband temperatures in Australian office buildings. The campaign offers building owners a simple and extremely low-cost way of reducing energy costs and emissions.
Currently, most commercial leases specify a set-point temperature of 22°C. This is based on 1950s data from the US on the comfort levels of an average-sized middle-aged man wearing a suit. The BBP is calling for up-to-date and more nuanced measures of thermal comfort.
“The offices we sit in today aren’t the same spaces they were 20 years ago,” says the BBP’s Esther Bailey. “They are flexible and adaptable, and the way we respond to people’s needs in these spaces continues to evolve. And yet we stick rigidly to a fixed temperature of 22°C.
“By broadening acceptable temperature set-points by just 1°C, building owners can reduce the amount of energy that an HVAC system consumes in summer by between six and 10 per cent. We see this as an opportunity for the whole office sector to drive down emissions and energy costs.”
As its name suggests, the campaign also aims to expand the deadband – the range of temperatures in which neither heating or cooling is activated. Bailey says expanding it by 3°C can cut energy costs by up to 30 per cent.
Most commercial leases, however, specify a strict deadband, meaning that building managers or landlords who expand the band may risk breaching leases and incurring penalties. To address this issue, the BBP has developed a best practice lease standard and template clauses.
“This is the golden low hanging fruit,” says Bailey. “There are not many opportunities left that cost nothing to achieve and deliver a substantial collective saving.”
She encourages building owners to take action.
“Now is a great time to have a conversation with others in your building about the best response. Maybe it’s a deadband thing, or for you maybe it’s more about tackling after-hours or supplementary aircon. Maybe it’s a new chance to talk to occupants about overall temperature controls.
“Do what is right for your building and circumstance but don’t miss this shared opportunity to create shared savings and implement those great strategies you’ve been trying to get buy-in on for ages.
“Speak to your technicians. Work out what your leases say. Use the BBP’s resources to engage your tenants. Make a plan. And then, as soon as the summer gets hot, we can all move together.”
The BBP includes building owners such as AMP Capital Investors, Brookfield Office Properties Australia, Charter Hall, City of Sydney, DEXUS Property Group, Frasers Property, The GPT Group, Investa Property Group, Lendlease, Mirvac, Stockland, University of Sydney, and University of Technology. Together, they represent more than 2.7 million square metres of space in Sydney’s CBD.