Old offices transformed with top environmental ratings

Owners of aging premium office towers up to 30 years old are achieving significant upgrades to their environmental ratings as they retrofit buildings to attract and retain key tenants.

Well-known 30-year-old Rialto building in Melbourne, Australia, has received a 5.5 star National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) rating for its indoor environment, reports The Age. Another retrofitted 20-story Invesco Real Estate-owned tower has notched up a 6 star NABERS rating, a level typically associated with new office developments.

The coveted rankings represent the highest sustainability scores in Australia, a mark reserved for market-leading energy efficient buildings.

Invesco engaged CBRE, Ausnviro and AG Coombs to improve the environmental performance of 30,200 square meters of space in its Exhibition Street building, the group's managing director Ian Schilling said.

Schilling said the tower was the first 25-year-old retrofitted building to achieve the maximum score in Australia. It previously had a NABERS rating of 2.5 stars.

Rialto general manager Stephen Jensen said the building achieved the 5.5 star NABERS while undergoing a $200 million upgrade that will see about 8000 square meters added to the complex, which takes up half a city block.

The NABERS score related solely to the existing building and was achieved by continuous improvements to air conditioning, lighting and other building systems.

The NABERS rating systems measures the energy efficiency, water usage, waste management and the indoor quality of a building or tenancy to determine its impact on the environment and its users.

Jensen said the Rialto, co-owned by Grollo Group and St Martins Properties, had been well constructed originally and continuous high-level maintenance had helped with retrofitting.

The upgrades included modern heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting and control systems.

The building has also incorporated LED lighting, sub-metering of all substantive building uses, tri-generation heating and cooling systems, water efficient fixtures and fittings, end of trip facilities, basement recycling and a glass facade to maximize daylight harvesting objectives.

The Rialto's upgrade includes about $100 million spent on redeveloping the forecourt and wrap-around office space on the exterior. It also includes another $100 million spent on upgrading the existing building, including complete replacement of all the lift systems.

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