On 16 February 2021 the Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Sustainability Infrastructure) Bill 2021 was passed. It received assent and became the Strata Schemes Amendment (Sustainability Infrastructure) Act 2021 on 24 February 2021 which was also when provisions around sustainability infrastructure commenced. These provisions have now been inserted into the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015.
But what is sustainability infrastructure? A breakdown is that it is any item that can be installed to reduce or improve energy or water consumption, reduce or prevent pollution, reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, increase the recycling of materials or ability to recover recycled materials, reduce greenhouse gas emissions or to assist in the use of sustainable forms of transport. The definition of sustainability infrastructure is provided at s132B(2).
Sustainability infrastructure is therefore a broad category. It includes installation of solar panels or batteries, LED lighting, water conserving taps, charging stations for electric cars, increased or new bike storage areas, new bins, specialised glass to reduce heating / cooling costs, bin areas or signage to increase recycling or even creating the humble compost bin.
The new provisions make it much easier to obtain the required approval of the owners corporation to add to or amend the common property to install sustainability infrastructure. Although a special resolution at a general meeting is still required, when a sustainability infrastructure motion is voted upon it will be passed if less than 50% of votes are against the motion. To put it another way if 51% of votes are in favour of a sustainability infrastructure resolution, it will be passed as a special resolution. This significantly reduces the voting threshold as for all other special resolutions if 25% of votes are against the motion the motion fails to pass.
Hopefully, these changes will increase the update of environmentally helpful infrastructure and will make our strata schemes that much greener. They certainly have the power to reduce costs over time if energy efficient infrastructure is installed. Time will tell.
This is general information and should not be considered to be legal advice. I recommend you obtain legal advice specific to your individual situation.
Author: Allison Benson – Kerin Benson Lawyers