Attorney General's Department:

Green Lease Schedule Achievements



The Australian Government has a number of energy efficiency initiatives which are administered by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.  To reduce the energy consumption of Government operations, the Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO) policy aims to progressively improve overall Australian Government energy performance by establishing energy efficiency targets for Government agency office buildings.  Green Lease Schedules (GLS) are used to commit energy efficiency improvements in Government office buildings and are agreed to by both building owners and Government tenants.


Work first began on the Attorney General's Department (AGD) new building project at 3/5 National Circuit, Barton in 2003 with the development of a long-term accommodation strategy for the Department.  At that time, in order to comply with policy and meet energy efficiency targets, government agencies were required to document their progress by submitting energy consumption data annually to the then Australian Greenhouse Office within the Department of Environment and Heritage.  It is for this reason that the AGD determined that their new building would have the first 'green lease' negotiated by an Australian Government department.  They envisioned creating a building that was environmentally efficient, had good amenity for staff, make the best possible use of natural light, and a range of ESD energy efficiencies achieved through sun control, natural ventilation and thermal insulation. 


Attorney General's Building

The AGD building fronts 3/5 National Circuit with a striking entry canopy leading into a four storey glazed atrium including interconnecting open access stairs between floors along with interconnecting bridges and glazed lifts.  The four levels of office total approximately 20,000m2 of net lettable area with 5,000 m2 floor plates equally set out in a north and south wing configuration representing the typical office levels.  The state-of-the-art integrated fitout features Pavilion-style work points as a first in the ACT, designed to minimise costs for future reconfiguration and ease of construction benefiting the long term tenant requirements.

Practical completion for the project was achieved 23rd March 2009 including the fully integrated fitout, café and crèche facilities for AGD.  The building houses 900 staff and is leased via a Gross lease.  The building has set new standards for “A” grade accommodation in the ACT in terms of finish, efficiency, fitout and common area solutions and energy usage.













Initial Negotiations

When the AGD building was in its planning and contract stages, improving energy efficiency in government operations were based on the Measures for Improving Energy Efficiency in Commonwealth Operation policy introduced in 1997.  There were no Green Lease Schedules developed at that time.  Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO) is an updated version of this policy and sets the strategy for Australian Government agencies to achieve revised energy intensity portfolio targets.  The EEGO provides a framework for agencies to identify, monitor and manage their energy consumption by specifying minimum energy performance standards (generally 4.5 stars on the NABERS or equivalent scheme).

AGD was intent upon creating a building that was environmentally efficient, had good amenity for staff, and made the best possible use of natural light.  The project team consulted a range of external parties about the development of the Agreement to Lease and the early design work for the base building.  They also had discussions with a number of other Australian Government departments that had undertaken accommodation projects of a similar nature.

ISPT Super Property, the property owner, was also committed to reducing the property footprint, conservation of resources and mitigation of climate change through the delivery of real savings by reducing energy, water and waste consumption.

Through a collaborative approach and after many meetings with AGD and DCCEE representatives, the NABERS energy assessor, the property developer ISPT and the solicitors agreement was reached on a ‘green lease’.  It required many hours of scrutinising the design and examining the impact of changes on the energy model to determine how to comply with the EEGO requirements.  Eventually a very simple one page lease was developed and attached to the tenancy lease agreement between AGD and the property developer’s agent.   The lease provided for the base building and fit-out to have a 4.5 star energy rating and for that rating to be maintained throughout the term of the lease.

In order to actively involve AGD staff, a ‘Green Committee’ was established which included AGD staff and the energy assessor.  This committee listened to any suggestions and informed AGD staff of the building progress and any potential impacts it might have.  Today, the Green Committee:

  • supports the developing an Environmental Management System (EMS).

  • allocates funds, as a result of GLS energy savings, for greening other parts of the building,

  • continues to make suggestions on environmental measures and initiatives to implement in the building,

  • provides a means of informing staff on environmental perspective of the building.This has resulted in more staff being interested in their environment.

Prior to moving into the new building the employee rating of satisfaction with working conditions was <50%.  The same survey has been carried out several times since the staff moved into the new building and the rating by staff to the present working conditions is >90%.   This indicates a very positive working environment and the well-being of the staff has increased.


Green Lease Schedule

AGD’s briefed their architects that the building had to be made to be as efficient as possible. To achieve this, compromises had to be made by all parties.  Some of the building services and plant requested by AGD in the original brief had to be modified in order to achieve energy efficiency measures.

The ‘green lease’ attachment included the following elements:

  • The Green Lease Schedule reflects the Parties’ desire to foster energy efficiency in the Premises and the Building wherever possible and is part of the wider policy of the Commonwealth of Australia to reduce the environmental impact of Government operations, and by so doing, lead the community by example.

  • To improve energy efficiency, the landlord and the tenant wish to:

    • promote the reduction of greenhouse emission;

    • ensure the environmental sustainability of the building's resources and improve the building's energy efficiency; and

    • meet their respective obligations in relation to occupational health and safety and other relevant statutory requirements.

  •  In order to achieve these purposes, the parties:

    • develop a working relationship to monitor and improve the building's energy efficiency and environmental performance over the term of the lease;

    • establish mutually agreed management mechanisms to implement energy efficiency and environmental obligations;

    • that monitoring and reporting of mutually agreed outcomes, which is reflective of these purposes and forms an important part of managing energy efficiency, and carry out such reporting; and

    • implement initiatives where practicable and reasonable (taking into account the extent of works required to achieve this, the cost of those works and the extent of interference to occupiers of the Building due to the works required).

In order to achieve these purposes the parties must take a co-operative approach to issues arising under the Green Lease Schedule, such as the resolution of disputes or the treatment of breaches. 

An energy assessor was engaged to address the following items prior to construction:

  • Review the tender and construction, mechanical and electrical drawings to ensure that the AGD’s interests as a tenant were met in regards to NABERS and what they had signed up to in the green lease,

  • Ensure that the building delivered what AGD needed in terms of metering and division of energy between the base building and the tenancy, and

  • Reviewed the NABERS energy for the whole building and made extensive changes to it to ensure that the AGD got a realistically achievable model.


Building Management Committee (BMC)

The BMC was formed very early in the project.   The formation of this committee is a critical element required to achieve the GLS outcomes.   BMC committee membership includes representatives from AGD’s property section, the property developer, the facility manager and the energy assessor who was appointed the head of the BMC.   In support of the BMC is the Green Committee.  

The BMC, aided by an energy model of the building, has a good understanding of the operation of the building.  To ensure that all necessary optimisation was taking place the BMC meetings were held monthly rather than quarterly for the first 12 months of operation.  This practice has continued. 

The Building Management System incorporates extensive monitoring and control of the mechanical services plant operation and also provides metering of the electricity, gas and water consumed within the building.  The remote monitoring and alarm functions of the BMS enable system faults resulting in excessive consumption of electricity, water or gas to be quickly identified and corrected.  This further contributes to the efficiency of the building by ensuring a quick response to these alarms.

Separate Digital Metering

Digital metering was installed in the building to enable specific monitoring of energy use as agreed in the initial ‘green lease.’  Because the AGD building was designed using the first GLS, digital metering was installed as it was recognised as a requirement to enable separate monitoring of energy consumption.  In order to achieve the operational requirements of the GLS, the number of digital meters was varied.  The library, crèche, café, and mailroom were originally considered as tenant energy.  The energy assessor convinced both AGD and the property developer that these should be metered separately. Although these areas are part of a whole building NABERS rating, separate metering allowed for these areas of the building to be exempted.



Design for Energy, Water and Waste Efficiency

Since 2005, the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) is used at a national level to measure an existing building's overall environmental performance during operation.  There are a range of NABERS ratings which cover energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, refrigerants, water, storm water runoff and pollution, sewage, landscape diversity, transport, indoor air quality, occupant satisfaction, waste and toxic materials.  NABERS ratings for offices include NABERS Energy (previously the Australian Building Greenhouse Rating (ABGR)), NABERS Water, NABERS Waste and NABERS indoor environment.

The project design brief for 3/5 National Circuit building was to construct an energy efficient building incorporating current best practice for engineering solutions to meet AGD and ISPT requirements on sustainability and environmental features.  The target Base Building NABERS Energy rating was set at 4.5 Stars and in the first year of operation the property achieved a 5 Star NABERS Energy rating, being the most energy efficient office building in the ACT.  The current base building NABERS Energy rating exceeds 5 Star NABERS and data gathering is being carried out to determine a Whole of Building NABERS energy rating which is expected to achieve 5 Star In 2011. 

The mechanical design was developed in close consultation with the façade and external shading elements to ensure that the cooling and heating load on the mechanical system was minimised whilst the natural light and views from the building were maximised.


Energy efficiency measures

  • Smart lighting system,

  • Utilising natural lighting as much as possible,

  • Rain water harvesting for irrigation,

  • Strict rules on the number of appliances in the building including:

    • Kitchens are equipped with a set number of appliances and staff are not allowed to bring their own, and

    • Private printers or other appliances are not allowed.

  • Separation and recycling facilities are in place for all paper, cardboard and comingled waste.Printers centralised in specific areas with two printing areas per 2000m2 of office area which must be activated with a smart card.During the defects liability period and the fine tuning of the building (approximately 6-9 months), energy results were variable.  A steady downward trend in energy usage was seen as the systems optimised for the next 12-15 months.  During the second year of operation, energy usage levelled with no spikes or upward trends.  The office light and power energy usage downward trend continued for the first 24 months of operation.

    As separate digital metering was installed, the energy assessor was able to:

    • Review energy meters monthly to ensure everything was tracking properly,

    • Hold monthly meetings with the AGD and property manages to review readings and targets,

    • Monitor day to day the operation of the building,

    • Track the property’s energy use against the NABERS energy targets,

    • Develop an energy management plan (EMP) based on the NABERS model which

      • Gave a month by month energy budget to track against, and

      • Compared energy bills and meter readings against this target

    This regular assessment allowed the energy assessor to track (see Appendix 1) how the energy usage was going and to make adjustments to fine tune the building prior to the first NABERS assessment after 12 months of operation.   The first formal NABERS rating on the tenancy achieved 4.5 stars.  At the same time the property manager completed the NABERS rating on the base building which achieved 5 stars.


    Remedial action/dispute resolution

    The ADG and the property developer have identified that in order to achieve their purposes they must take a co-operative approach to issues arising under the Green Lease Schedule, such as the resolution of disputes or the treatment of breaches.  To date, no disputes have gone to arbitration.  The GLS has been designed to be part of but separate from the lease so not to get bogged.



    The achievements attained through the Green Lease are many and reflect the commitment of AGD and ISPT to achieving lasting reductions in the environmental footprint of 3/5 National Circuit building.  Early and frequent collaboration between the tenants and owners on requirements created a building which not only has a smaller carbon footprint, it uses less energy and water, has better waste control, has also improved employee well-being, resulted in the retention of longer leases and improved the long term asset value.

    The GLS has provided the foundation for the success of 3/5 National Circuit tenancy.  The parties acknowledge the GLS as a tool to promote the sharing of information and communications of the desired outcomes.   The GLS has provided the mechanism for trusting relationships to be formed through the Building Management Committee.  The key to achieving the targets was in the early endorsement of the GLS and regular committee meeting to drive the necessary changes to make it happen.  Regular assessment of the operational performance of the building and responding quickly to needs has meant the building not only achieves the required rating but exceeds it.  The property agent has asked that the building be assessed for the 5 Star overall building rating. 



Attorney General's Building, Canberra, Australia.

Appendix: Consumption Tracks