Harry has new energy

AUSTRALIA’S biggest developer of apartments, Harry Triguboff, says he is not waiting for electricity costs to come down – he is powering ahead with his own offshore-developed form of cost-cutting.

The Meriton group founder, in unveiling his move to make a new Sydney CBD development an energy showpiece, has taken a swipe at a new attempt to put the brakes on Australian innovation.

He yesterday said a proposed move to change a government incentive scheme for research and development would hinder a quest by developers for smarter and more viable buildings.

“We can’t keep using the so-called old methods of building these days – the homes and apartments become too expensive.”

Meriton is building a new 32-level property in the heart of the CBD that will be a flagship for its hotel brand.

The building services in the 302-suite hotel’s base have been designed to integrate a waste-water thermal recovery system supplied from Canada.

Director of construction David Cremona said the system, being used for the first time in a major high-rise hotel anywhere in the world, should reduce energy costs and improve energy efficiency at the new Sussex Street hotel.

He said a research group from Sydney University, led by Professor Gianluca Ranzi, was undertaking comfort and energy usage monitoring to see how efficiently Meriton hotels operated and to determine how effectively the thermal recovery system performed against existing Meriton properties.

“This system, Piranha, is the latest example of Meriton fast-tracking its use of new technologies.”

Mr Triguboff said he always had believed Meriton had to innovate.

“If we don’t we’ll be left behind.”

“Meriton isn’t a follower – it’s a pacesetter that believes in research and development and what it can do for our industry.

“Australia should be a smart nation but it’s sliding backward because the government’s been reducing incentives for R & D.”

Mr Triguboff said Meriton looked at what people wanted, not at what some professors in England or America had written should happen.

“I only believe in our own professors and in our own people.

“We must do the testing.

“The research needs to take place within our living cities and buildings and outside the confines of a laboratory.”

The veteran developer said the total R & D concessional after-tax benefit was as high as 22.5 per cent in 2001.

“It’s been under attack in the past decade and we believe that under new draft legislation the average benefit rate will be around 4 or 5 per cent.

“That’s hardly an incentive and it’s not surprising we’ve slipped in well below the OECD average for R & D spending.”

Mr Cremona said Meriton was actively collaborating with universities on R & D projects – ‘we see the benefits of industry working closely with academia’.

“There should be an incentive for business to partner and collaborate with universities to test materials, investigate methodologies and deliver real practical outcomes.

“We spend half our lives within our homes so they need to be safe, efficient and of good amenity.”

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