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Old offices transformed with top NABERS environmental ratings

The Rialto building is undergoing a $200 million redevelopment. Photo: ScharpOwners of ageing 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.
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Melbourne’s well-known Rialto building on the corner of King and Collins streets, now 30 years old, has received a 5.5 star NABERS rating for its indoor environment.

Another 20-storey Invesco Real Estate-owned tower retrofitted at 321 Exhibition Street 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 , 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 metres of space in its Exhibition Street building, the group’s managing director Ian Schilling said.

Mr Schilling said the tower was the first 25-year-old retrofitted building to achieve the maximum score in . 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 metres added to the complex which takes up half a city block between Collins and King streets and Flinders Lane.

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

The Rialto engaged Ausnviro and JLL to help upgrade the building.

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.

Mr 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.

“As components get to the end of their life, we are constantly upgrading them,” he said.

Both buildings were likely to gain a boost in tenancy, with most corporates now factoring in environmental credentials in their choice of office.

Mr Schilling said Invesco and CBRE had developed and implemented a two-year plan to attain the highest possible ranking.

The property, which is fully leased to Origin Energy, also has a Green Star rating.

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, trigeneration heating and cooling systems, water efficient fixtures and fittings, end of trip facilities, basement recycling and a glass facade to maximise 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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